The longest running musical in the world captivates Filipino audience
After being performed by over 100 professional companies in more than 44 countries and 347 cities, the multi-awarded and beloved musical Les Misérables is bringing the production to the place where talent grows like grass—the Philippines!
For the first time ever, the longest running musical in the world is setting up their stage in Manila from March 11 to April 17 and this once-in-a-lifetime chance is definitely an affair not to be missed.
Celebrating its 31st anniversary this year, more than 70 million people have seen Les Misérables in more than 48,000 professional performances all over the world. This year, Filipinos will be added to that number.
Expat Philippines spent some time with the award-winning cast of the legendary musical during the Les Misérables Media Call on March 15th at The Theatre at Solaire in Manila.
When asked about how their performances are going after a couple of nights in the Philippines, they all said the same thing: the Filipino audience is unpredictable.
“It’s different, during our first performance we were sure if [the audience] was liking it because they were quiet,” shared Simon Gleeson, who plays the lead role of Jean Valjean in this Victor Hugo classic. “But at the end [of the show] people were shouting, so we were like, ‘Oh, so you do like it.’”
“The first nights were scary,” said English thespian Earl Carpenter who played the role of Javert. “Filipinos react and are affected differently… We had to be very meticulous in our storytelling.”
“Filipino talent is so great,” said Cameron Blakely and Helen Walsh, who were all smiles and laughs, unlike their characters: the wretched couple Monsieur and Madame Thénardier. “Everybody sings very well because you sing from the heart,” Walsh said about Filipinos.
Filipina actress Rachelle Anne Go, who also played Gigi in the West End production of Miss Saigon in 2014 where she won two awards, felt emotional when she came home to the Philippines to perform as Fantine in Les Misérables.
“It’s very emotional for me because this is the first time my family will watch me perform on stage,” Go said in Filipino. “I’m more nervous about performing here because I know some of my friends will be watching.”
Go’s co-stars only had praises and kind words about her. “She’s a kind-hearted, lovely lady,” said Helen Walsh. Simon Gleeson said, “There’s a reason why she’s loved here in the Philippines… Off-stage, she is just a beautiful human being.” And even the antagonist Javert had kind words for Go. “She’s absolutely lovely; very professional, as well. A good example for other artists,” Carpenter said of Go.
Portraying roles that require heavy drama and intensity can be quite challenging, but with music as passionate and moving as this Boublil & Schönberg classic, it wasn’t difficult to draw inspiration.
“The music inspires me,” said Carpenter, who portrayed the tough French policeman Javert who will stop at nothing to enforce the law and find Jean Valjean. “I let the music guide me.”
Aside from making its historical landing here in Manila, the cast invites everyone to watch Les Misérables for several reasons.
“There’s something for everyone,” said Emily Langridge, who played Cosette—Fantine’s daughter and Valjean’s adopted child. “It’s a story of love and I think a lot of people can relate to that.”
“It’s not very often [that you get] a musical that has been around as long as Les Misérables,” said Carpenter.
For Simon Gleeson, watching Les Misérables is “an opportunity to change your life.”
Les Misérables is a Cameron Mackintosh production. Written for theatre by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo. Directed by Laurence Connor.
Les Misérables is now playing at The Theatre at Solaire in Manila until April 17, 2016. For tickets, visit www.ticketworld.ph or call (02) 891-99-99. For more information, visit www.lesmis.com.ph.
By CHING DEE