The Tony-winning star of MISS SAIGON, Lea Salonga, will play the role of the Glamour Cat Grizabella in the international touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular musical CATS NOW AND FOREVER running on a limited engagement at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) from July 24 to August 15, 2010.
Ms. Salonga recently flew to Sydney to rehearse with the Australian touring cast and production team. The sets, costumes, props, and the people behind the touring production are expected to arrive in Manila by mid-July 2010.
The show, based on the OLD POSSUM’S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS by T.S. Eliot, has music by musical theatre legend Andrew Lloyd Webber (“The Phantom of the Opera”, “Sunset Boulevard”). Its musical numbers include the hit song “Memory”.
The show holds the record as Broadway’s second longest-running musical. Its New York run was truly phenomenal – the production at the Winter Garden Theatre ran for 18 years.
CATS first opened in London’s West End in 1981 with Elaine Paige (Grizabella), and then on Broadway after a year with Betty Buckley (Grizabella), directed by Trevor Nunn (“Les Miserables”, “Starlight Express”), and choreographed by Gilliane Lynne (“The Phantom of the Opera”, “Aspects of Love”). The musical won numerous awards including both the Laurence Olivier Award and Tony Award for Best Musical.
Grizabella, a former Glamour Cat, has lost her clout and sparkle, and now only seeks to be accepted by the “Jellicle Cats” society, whose members are anxiously waiting to be reborn into a new life.
“I’ll be playing Grizabella…As for what attracts me to her, besides the big song? Grizabella is the cat that shone in the spotlight once upon a time, and doesn’t anymore. She’s scraggy, dirty, ugly, and relives the Glory Days in her mind. It’ll be interesting to play someone that once shone, and no longer does,” said Ms. Salonga.
You may also read a special feature about Lea in my previous post here.
As today is the 112th Anniversary of the Philippine Independence Day, I’m paying tribute to these Filipinos, whose names stirred huge names in the international arena without denying the fact that they are of Filipino descent or/and heritage. And despite very tough competition, mockery and racism, these Filipinos didn’t stop from waving the Philippine flag with all their heart and soul. With numerous numbers of Pinoys and Pinays who “did it” abroad, the Top 12 are my own personal choices. Their ranking were based according to their contributions, popularity, genre and my own personal view.
#12: Christina Aguilar
Why Pinay Christina?: Since this blogster is based in the Land of Smiles Thailand, let me re-introduce to you Thailand’s “Dancing Queen” and gay idol, Christina Aguilar. Yup! She’s the Filipina daughter of musician Tony Aguilar. Being one of the most successful pop/dance artists of Thai music history and with her first album “Ninja”, Aguilar was the first female artist of Thailand to reach 1,000,000 copies.
#11: Arnel Pineda of Journey
Why Pinoy Arnel?: His incredible rugs to riches, “Dreams do come true” singing story made him on my list. Who would’ve thought a certain person like Arnel who For about two years his life was spent out on the streets, sleeping wherever he could: in public parks, or on a narrow bench outside a friend’s crowded house. He earned meager money by collecting glass bottles, newspapers, and scrap metal and selling them to recyclers. He would also go to the pier with his friends and take on odd jobs like cleaning scrap metal and docked ships. He didn’t have much to eat, sometimes rationing a small package of Marie biscuit as his meal for two days. Despite all these hardships he tried to remain optimistic about his future.
#10: Monique Lhuiller
Why Pinay Monique?: Just imagine designing gowns & worn by famous Hollywood stars like Kristen Stewart, Britney Spears and Heidi Montag among a few plus one of her gowns was worn by Hillary Duff in the “A Cinderella Story” movie, Ms. Lhuiller made it to my list with a salutation. I wonder if she can you give me a good deal if I opt to use one of her collections for my private function, charos!
#9: Josie Natori
Why Pinay Josie?: Being the first female Vice President in Investment Banking at Merrill Lynch, a 2007 recipient of “Peopling of America” Award from the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, a Galleon Award from Corazon Aquino in 1998, 2008 BPInoy Award from Bank of the Philippine Islands and the Labor Secretary and of course, being the CEO and Founder of The Natori Company, you are one distinguished and well-accomplished woman Ms. Natori, two thumbs up to you!
#8: Vanessa Hudgens
#7: Mutya Buena
Why Pinay Mutya?: From her name (both first & last) and her looks, Mutya can’t deny the fact that she is truly a Filipina by blood. Being the lead singer of the original lineup of Sugababes with four #1 singles with her plus during her solo career, she has a #2 song called “Real Girl”, a #15 hit collaboration with George Michael and songs with Amy Winehouse and Groove Armada, Mutya is truly a mutya (jewel) worthy of my list.
#6: Brillante Mendoza
Why Pinoy Brillante?: The fact that he won the Prix de la mise en scène or Best Director category beating the likes of top caliber directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodovar, Jane Campion, Lars von Trier and Ang Lee at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, direk Dante made our country proud in the world of cinema.
#5: Nicole Scherzinger
#4: apl.de.ap of Black Eyed Peas
Why Pinoy Allan?: Like Arnel Pineda, another Pineda, Allan Pineda Lindo or better known as apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas is a classic example or result in the saying: “Believe in the power of your dreams.” Allan has brought his Filipino culture into his collaboration with the group. He explains his life story in a song called “The Apl Song” on the Peas’ 2003 album “Elephunk” , which includes a full chorus in Tagalog sampled from the Asin song “Balita.” The accompanying video, which includes cameos by fellow Filipino-Americans Dante Basco and Chad Hugo, is also a tribute to the Filipinos who fought for the U.S. in World War II; the song reached number one in the Philippines. Apl recorded another Tagalog song for Black Eyed Peas’ fifth studio album, “The E.N.D.“, the song is called “Mare” in 2009.
#3: Manny Pacquiao
Why Pinoy Manny?: To prove that this list is “Hindi lang pampamilya kundi pang-sports pa!”, Pacquiao is the first boxer in history to win seven world titles in seven different weight divisions. In addition, he is the only boxer to win the lineal championship in four different weight classes. For his achievements, Pacquiao was named The Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year in 2006, 2008 and 2009; the Best Fighter ESPY Award in 2009; the Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year in 2006, 2008 and 2009; the HBO and the Boxing Writers Association of America “Fighter of the Decade” in 2000-2009. On top of that, he was the only Asian or Filipino in the Nike ad (pictured above) along with world-renowned athletes.
#2: Lea Salonga
Why Filipina Lea?: Being the first to win various international awards: Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics and Theatre World for a single role as Kim in “Miss Saigon”, Ms. Lea Salonga is a classic and genuine international artist with whom I have high respect for. Just to refresh our minds a bit, she was the first Asian to play Eponine as well as the first Asian to play Fantine in the musical Les Miserables on Broadway and was the singing voice of Princess Jasmine from Aladdin (1992) and Mulan (1998) and Mulan II (2004). Her 1993 international self-titled album reached #44 in the Billboard’s Hot 200 and stayed in the charts for 23 consecutive weeks (whew!). Did I mention that this was produced by Glen Ballard?
And last but not the least, I guess you know her already. She’s currently the hottest Pinay sensation rocking the world right now with her heavyweight voice…drum roll please…jan-ja-ra-ran…CHARICE!
Why Pinay Charice?: She’s another classic example of those runner-up winner in singing competitions who out-famed the actual winner after the competition. Dubbed by Oprah Winfey as the Most Talented Girl in the World, she is the first Asian in history to land in the Top 10 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts (ranking #8) with initial sales of 43,000 copies sold in its first week in the US. Her single, Pyramid, went at the #1 slot at the Billboard’s Dance Club Play Chart and #56 at the Hot 100 Singles chart.
There goes my list. And must I say that I’m truly proud of my race. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!