“The King and I” wows the press
Monique Wilson as Anna and Leo Tavarro Valdez as the King sang in front of a crowd, the first animatronics theater character in the Philippines was seen on stage, and the children, in dazzling costumes, chorused the familiar "Getting To Know You"- all of these for the first time as Resorts World Manila unveiled another stage production,"The King And I", in a press presentation at the Newport Performing Arts Theater on July 28, 2012.
“I can’t tell you enough how excited we are to give you another masterpiece”, the play’s director, Freddie Santos, said. “The King and I” is Resorts World Manila’s third musical production, following the success of "Kaos" and the longest-running large-scale broadway musical in the Philippines, “The Sound of Music”. The magnificent set and costumes showcasing the majestic land of Siam will wow the crowd starting September 15.
But it’s really not all about the set and the costumes said renowned stage director Freddie Santos. “This gigantic stage affected everything in the play of course. The challenge was playing with what’s colossal and at the same time emphasizing the tiny, presenting to you both things that can and can’t be seen”, Santos further shared. The director also explained how his team will present one of the world’s most popular stage play in a different direction. “More than the politics and the coming of two different cultures, we want to emphasize on the love- romantic love, love for oneself, love for family, love for country”, Direk Freddie enthused.
Playing the lead role Anna Leonowens are Monique Wilson and Sheila Valderrama. One of the Filipina stage actresses who are making big waves at the West End, Wilson starred in major roles in “Oleanna”, “Angels in America”, "Chess The Musical”, “Cabaret”, “Top Girls” and the crictically-acclaimed “The Vagina Monologues”, among many others. Valderrama, on the other hand, has portrayed several Disney princesses in Hong Kong Disneyland and she also topbilled the Broadway Asia Tour of “Cinderella”.
Portraying the other lead role as the King are Leo Tavarro Valdez and Bo Cerrudo. An Aliw Lifetime Achivement Awardee and recipient of three Best Male Performance citations, Leo appeared in numerous broadway shows in the West End with the most popular of which is playing “The Engineer” in Miss Saigon. Cerrudo, meanwhile, will act out as the alternate of the King’s role who also is an Aliw Awardee. Cerrudo’s stage play credits comes from the Manila run of “Miss Saigon”, “Rama Hari”, and the “West Side Story” among others.
Other decorated names in the broadway industry complete the powerful cast of “The King and I” including Gina Respall (London’s “The King and I”) as Lady Thiang, Apple Chiu (The Sound of Music) also as Lady Thiang, and Tanya Manalang (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe) as Tuptim to be alternated by Marian Santiago (Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera). Lorenz Martinez (Jesus Christ Superstar) will play as Lun Tha who will be alternated by Floyd Tena (Ang Bagong Harana).
Joining Direk Freddie in this major production are musical director Rodell Colmenar and the rest of the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philippine Ballet Theater, vocal director Lynn Fabella, sound engineer Rards Corpuz, lights designer John Batalla, set designer Jo Tecson of Lights and Space Concepts and costume designers Aksana Sidarava and Rajo Laurel.
“We know that the Filipinos are the most critical yet loving audience we Filipino broadway performers have and so we are looking forward to give you a good show”, Monique Wilson said. “Thank you Resorts World Manila for the opportunity. It’s time for the Filipino talents to shine once more in our own land”, Leo Tavarro Valdez also shared.