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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