Monthly Archives: November 2012

Ariel takes on Kim

By now many have heard that Rachelle Ann Go has passed the initial rounds of Miss Saigon auditions for the plum role of Kim. Amazing because for some reason, for many people she suddenly came to mind when news broke that auditions will be held here in Manila. And why not? She has those Kim qualities: the Asian look, the flair for dance and that awesome soulful voice. Yes, she can pass for a 17-year old despite being 26. She was able to play the 16-year-old Ariel in The Little Mermaid so convincingly.

There were many skeptics when Atlantis Productions announced their Little Mermaid. Can a pop diva get away with being a spunky, youthful little mermaid with a crystal clear voice? Many thought not, especially since it will also be her first time to dip her fins in the challenging waters of theater. Yet on opening night, no less than theater royalty Miss Lea Salonga was there to watch and eventually admire our very own Asian Ariel. She wrote in her column: “I don’t know that the superlatives in my vocabulary could cover just how wonderful I thought she was. Bundles of charm oozed from her, as well as an easy sense of humor and adventure. Her voice was also a great mix of that clean and pristine Disney sound, plus a deep pop sensibility that made this score (and her Ariel) accessible to everyone. She was a perfect Ariel, and her portrayal will only continue to deepen and improve. She blew me away on opening night.” She goes on to say, “Whatever management outfit, studio or record label is currently handling her needs to realize, if they haven’t already, just how big a treasure they have on their hands. Go is incredibly talented.”

For a theater neophyte, those were big words and heavy praises coming from a multi-awarded veteran. And she wasn’t alone in praising the new entrant of stage. Shin earned so much positive accolades that when the Miss Saigon auditions in Manila was announced, many believed that she has a pretty good chance of bagging the lead role. And why not? Years back, Lea herself mentioned her as one who can definitely play the role of Kim (click to watch). To think Shin hasn’t even done The Little Mermaid then.

Ever the humble and low key person that she is, she kept her cards close to her heart, prepared herself and quietly registered. She was close-mouthed about taking the plunge and instead focused on psyching herself up for the intense pressure. And yes, the pressure is immense as many people were prodding her to audition for the part. Too bad no matter how much she wanted to keep it low key, people were really keeping an eye on her.

It was with pride that we learned that she did well in her audition yesterday. I don’t want to say it isn’t surprising because casting can be tricky. All I know is that Shin possesses all the qualities that Cameron Mackintosh and his team need, and she has the emotional maturity, the unwavering professionalism, the quiet greatness and the unbelievable humility to revive the role that Lea Salonga introduced to the world. Shin definitely had the guts to try and capture her dream, not considering the risk that a rejection could bring.

Truth be told, that is what isn’t surprising to me anymore. For one who never really lived the famed life and never really took popularity to mind, a brave step to risk some to chase a dream is the true mark of an artist who lives her craft instead of simply reveling in her accomplishments at this point in time. God gave her a precious gift: a voice that can move a heart, and a heart that can move a soul. She has been firm in her motivation to inspire others through her music, and this is another way of inspiring us to reach for our dreams no matter what. The blessing in trying far outweighs the worries of the risks.

Tomorrow Shin goes under the kleig lights again to further convince the panel that she can be the Kim they are searching for. I am certain that she will do great. It is now up to the people of Miss Saigon to see that this gem of a talent can make the return of Kim to the London stage worth every pound that people will pay for to watch this critically-acclaimed Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil musical.

Good luck, Shin. Break a leg. Wow them again!

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Rachelle Ann Go: Defied gravity with power and style

People who know me may be wondering why I haven’t written about Rachelle Ann Go’s recent concert at the Music Museum. To be very honest, it is quite difficult to write something that should not sound like a praise release. Yet fierceness is typical of Shin so it shouldn’t be surprising to know that Rising Against Gravity was a success. Sold out. Though not meant to be dissected in parts, the concert showcased awesome numbers but what really stayed with me after the stage lights went off was the feeling of WOW. I may not remember each and every number with much detail (not for the lack of impact but rather of memory gap issues, I admit) but I sure know how this artist has turned into a well-rounded performer. Really, WOW.

Intimate and explosive

I went there expecting an awesome show…full of energy, full of music and full of inspiration. I resisted the urge to record each production for posterity and instead decided to sit and enjoy the show for once without any distractions. As I watched each and every production number, something came to mind. I was expecting high energy numbers. Well, lotsa them at least. Larger than life performances that she has probably patented in the noontime show, Party Pilipinas, on GMA 7. No venue was big or small — a performance is a performance. That’s Shin. But once again she turned the tables on me.

Shin unfolded her story through music and movement. The past eight years may not have been that kind and accommodating but it paved the way for a stronger person. Her growth as an artist was evident in the way she tackled her songs, her dances and in simply the way she carried herself. She would burst into high energy numbers and then lay you back with soothing, heartbreaking or powerful ballads to let you feel the rollercoaster ride that she has and continues to be in.

Many of her performances were meant for a larger venue. I don’t know if it was how each number was prepped up, or if it was simply how she performed them. I just kept thinking how fitting this and the next and the next and the next number were in a large stage. The opening number with her in a harness was a message that was loud and clear: I am sharing with you an adventure! Then she takes it slow without losing the intensity, and makes you latch on to her and her alone as she sings her heart and soul out. You can almost feel her reaching out and touching you.

I grew to appreciate the intimacy of a small venue that made her so palpable, so reachable and so real. It’s like being invited to a party with top notch entertainment. I loved it even if it made me want something more because I couldn’t get enough of what she had to offer. Her last concert had been ages ago, The Little Mermaid already had its curtain call, and many of her shows are either abroad or in other parts of the country. That night I loved the fact that she gave me Araneta-like performances right before me, and not feet upon feet of distance that could easily make her look like just a little doll in a large dollhouse.

Shin also spoke from the heart throughout the show. Scripted? I think not. Whether it was a good thing or not, it went with the whole point of the show, which was to unravel herself to her audience. Despite how guests made light of some moments, Shin wore her heart in her sleeve. It was heart-warming to see that side of Shin up there: funny, humble and always in deep gratitude.

Fashionably fierce and fab

Despite the close proximity setup that could have justified just a single change of clothes or even none, trust Shin to glam it up to her audience’s delight. With a designer-brother, Oz Go, beside her and fab designer friends willing to doll her up for this special concert, Shin made people feel that the show will be worth every cent we paid for.

Fashion show po actually ang pinuntahan ninyo,” she said in jest more than once which made the audience laugh. Yet that was typical of Rachelle as a performer, giving her all in every number, including making sure she dresses the part to a tee. Have I mentioned that mediocre was never in her vocabulary?

Glammed up while delivering those powerful and soulful vocals – oh yes, worth every darn cent and more. Add the drama that artistic lighting can create, and the sultry moves of the ADDLIB dancers and you’ve got a winner out there. Fab to the max.

Facing the challenges head on

Many were not privy to most of what was happening behind the curtains since Shin decided to produce her own concert. For a music aficionado like me, I actually found myself clucking my tongue that an awesome performer like her would have to resort to producing her own concert just to be able to do one where she can have that liberty to do what she wants to do. As her career handlers give heaps of opportunities to non-singers with big venue concerts, here is a legit performer who continues to wow people but who just can’t seem to get that voluntary support from them. It is sad that here is another proof of the “this is business” phrase that is killing OPM and the local music industry. And I can only salute Shin for having the guts and the firm resolve to hold a concert that was distinctly Rachelle Ann Go through and through, even if she had to produce it herself. To quote none other than Ms. Lea Salonga in her review of The Little Mermaid staged last year, “Whatever management outfit, studio or record label is currently handling her needs to realize, if they haven’t already, just how big a treasure they have on their hands. Go is incredibly talented.” Still wishing for that but not holding my breath though.

Not bad for a neophyte in producing. The concert was sold out despite the meager promotions and the seemingly endless challenges that she met along the way. Yet the bumps were eventually smoothened and last October 26, the Music Museum was once again witness to the prowess of Shin as she unleashed her spectrum of talents in an intimate concert that didn’t seem so. Director Rico Gutierrez likewise deserves a pat in the back for a job well done. It may not have been easy to temper one’s creative juices given various constraints but the people behind RAG the concert certainly knew how to rise against gravity themselves.

In retrospect, the concert actually made me look back years ago too as it made me remember just who the real Rachelle Ann Go is. Never one to resort to pretensions, she goes where her heart wants to go, does what it wants to do. The true artist, thank God, still lives and breathes inside of her…and spews fire that can leave you breathless and wanting for more. And when you’ve got her down pat, she takes a different route and keeps you guessing again what’s up and what’s next. She will always be beating her own drums, playing her own powerful tune.

She continues to mesmerize her audience primarily with her voice, making them sit still, listen and savor each note instead of scream your head off in ticklish delight. Yet she can easily make you dance, or at least twitch with the beat. God has blessed her well with a myriad of talents and if RAG the concert is any indication, then she is using these gifts well. Shin is an artist whose talent cannot be denied (nor suppressed), whose grace cannot be ignored, whose creativity cannot be undermined, whose charms cannot be resisted and whose spirit cannot be broken. Those, my friends, are just some of the reasons why gravity may pull her down to keep her grounded but it can never put her down.

Way to rise and soar high, Shin. See you back on stage…maybe this time on theater again?

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