Lea Salonga's Column
The heat is on in “(Miss) Saigon” and the critics have spoken: Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer in the hit musical’s revival production in London’s West End is “the show’s standout, stealing every scene his Engineer comes close to.” This is the verdict from the premier theater website Broadway World UK, which hails the Filipino-American actor for “bringing freshness and exuberance to a role he knows so very well.”
I sincerely hope you haven’t grown tired of my stories about the Broadway-bound musical “Allegiance.” We have just begun our third week of rehearsal, and we are all mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. All that said, our hearts are full, knowing only too well the importance of telling this rarely told chapter of American history.
There is a spoof from the old “Electric Company” TV show that I remember watching as a little girl. On a movie set, whenever the director screamed, “Makeup!” a lady with an oversized powder puff would hit one of the actors in the face.
This would go on quite a few times until the hapless chap was covered head to toe in layers of white powder. Thankfully, this didn’t affect how I saw makeup in the real world.
Sitting in my apartment with CNN giving us updates on Superstorm “Sandy,” I’m still in a haze over how incredible this “Allegiance” experience has been. Our company wasn’t just cast and crew, but a family, and I shall take all those memories wherever I go.
A cast doesn’t always get along so nicely that a family atmosphere is achieved. I usually consider myself fortunate if everyone merely got along. It does happen that the chemistry goes completely awry despite everyone’s best intentions. I’ve seen this happen; it’s more sad than anything.
It’s hard to believe that nearly three months have passed since our arrival in San Diego and the start of the “Allegiance” rehearsal. It was the middle of summer, with the sun shining every single day in beautiful Balboa Park. We spent the daylight hours indoors, working on what has become quite the show, which we have performed nightly since September 7.
It was announced just a few days ago that the musical “Miss Saigon,” which originally opened in the West End in 1989, is going to be revived in the same venue in 2013. Auditions for various roles will be held in Manila from November 19-22 at Opera Haus in Makati, the Philippine Opera Company’s home base.
Allow me to start with a quote from my favorite superhero movie, “Spider-Man”: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
It applies to just about everything and everyone. These days, it seems power lies in one’s fingers on a keyboard attached to a computer or built into a smartphone.
Looks like the whole of Philippine cyberspace is up in arms against Republic Act No. 10175, otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
George Takei, our fearless “Allegiance” lead actor, has made it his legacy project to take our musical to Broadway. In interviews, he has been quoted as “very determined” to make that happen. I don’t doubt his persistence one bit—after all, he was the inspiration for the creation of the show.
The stage musical “Allegiance” is now officially open and is running until Oct. 21 which, by Philippine standards, is quite long.
Each time I get onstage, I hear Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo’s voice inside my head saying, “Haaay, just when you’re ready to open, the run is over!”
Well, Menchu, that isn’t the case here—thanks to that long preview period, we were ready to open when we did.
Well, here we are … almost.
It’s Sunday and the entire cast (of “Allegiance”) was called in for a clean-up rehearsal at the theater before the 7 p.m. performance. Our days have been spent this way for the last week and a half: rehearsals during the day, a show at night. How we have all managed to not lose our minds is a testament to this company’s focus, determination and desire to put on the best show we can.
SAN DIEGO, California—The weekend is over, and our precious day off has finally arrived. Suffice it to say that the cast, crew, creative and production teams of the musical play “Allegiance” are exhausted, able to exist with the help of many cups of freshly brewed strong coffee.
On Sept. 7, “Allegiance” premiered with a sold-out audience at the Old Globe Theater. The audience, composed of longtime “Allegiance” fans, friends and family, was incredibly receptive. The ovation at the end was wonderful to receive, a lovely reward for all our hard work.
On this sunny Labor Day, I am slumped on the couch, legs tired and brain turned to mush. The first week of technical rehearsals for “Allegiance” are over, and this new American musical premieres Friday at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California.
It’s our first day of technical rehearsals tomorrow afternoon for “Allegiance”—and I can’t wait to get started! It’s the first time that we’ll come face to face with the real sets and put on our 1940s costumes, complete with vintage pieces of clothing truly dating back that far.
We are inching closer to the premiere of “Allegiance.” The collaborative process continues, with actors, authors and staff pushing to put this piece together.
The places we’re led to, leading to, and finding ourselves in are all interesting, unnerving, and at times deathly fearsome and nerve-wracking. But this is also what’s invigorating and inspiring about the process. I have nothing but thanks to every force in the universe that made this happen.
So … we have completed our first official week of rehearsals for “Allegiance.” Already, we have learned all the music for the show, and staged the first five minutes. For a new musical where so much is, and will continue to be, in flux until opening night, that is a huge deal. This kind of progress is possible only with a cast that is as talented, disciplined and committed as this one is. Not to mention that everyone likes one another very much.