Thursday, August 06, 2009

young fil-am talents shine in local les miz

(last of two parts)
last sunday i wrote about my not-so-great four-day weekend nursing a cold virus, which has mercifully gone now - thank you! although, i still feel something near my nasal palate, but that's another story.

last friday, even if i was sick, i made a dash to the azusa pacific university to catch foothill theatre workshop's staging of the hit broadway musical "les miserables".

thankfully, the production made it all worthwhile. the play started a little tentative in the beginning; the actors trying to find their voices, but as soon as they picked the rhythm, the play took off and the actors had finally let go and totally embraced their respective characters.

if i had skipped it, i wouldn't have witnessed some of the most talented kids i've ever seen perform. the cast (see picture of their headshots from the souvenir program) ranged in age from 13 to 19 but their ages are not apparent in their expressive performances and glorious voices. of course, the young girl who played cossette (karisa burgos) was way younger than 13 but she was just such an adorable presence on stage, you wouldn't think this was her first stage play - amazing!

young cossette is a mix of heartbreaking innocence and incredible courage, and the young actress easily pulled it off. from the moment she started singing the tender ballad "castle on a cloud", i was instantly drawn to her near-angelic voice. i saw the broadway version and this cossette can almost easily hold her own. she was so great! - pity, she only had a few scenes to work on.

but she's not the only one good in the production. everyone was actualy awesome but i would like to single out two fil-am talents who surely made my hands ache from vigorous clapping during the cast's final vow.

17 year old kevin gino and 18-year old sarah lazatin portrayed the convict jean valjean and the tragic eponine, respectively. both made me forget that i was actually nursing a slight headache that day.

from the prologue song with the chain gang to jean valjean's death scene, kevin was an imposing figure on stage. his voice easily towers over everyone (which is actually how the character is written) and he never falters. he has such a full and commanding voice that it made the theater appear bigger than it actually was because of his incredible vocal prowess. he reminded me so much of talented filipino actor gamaliel viray.

if he can sing so well at 17, i wonder how extraordinary his voice could become as he matures. i can only imagine... wow!

sarah had a more difficult role to tackle. actually, it's a role smaller than gino's but is just as equally demanding. you see, sarah had to sing "on my own". it's one song that takes only a small lapse to spell doom for the performer. after lea salonga performed the song on broadway, every other filipina who attempts to sing the same song is unfairly compared to her performance. sarah did not disappoint, in fact she wowed everyone! i don't know, may be everyone was expecting less but as soon as sarah started singing the first lines, i felt as if everyone was already waiting for her to end so that the applause they are holding could finally give way.

sarah has such a sweet voice and it helped her convey the melancholy of her character quite more effectively. she was singing "on my own" but she wasn't entirely on her own, everyone in the audience was with her - singing with her.

i had a good night. my cold may have gotten worse the next day but the play sure made my friday a very good one.

congratulations to the cast.

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