She was not nominated at the Tony Awards but that did not stop the fans of Rachelle Ann Go from giving their favorite girl a new trophy. The singing champion garnered the most number of votes online to win as Best Featured Actress in a Musical at the 2017 Theater Fans’ Choice Awards for her performance as Gigi Van Tranh in the Broadway production of Miss Saigon.
Please note that she also won as Best Featured Actress in a New Production of a Musical from the Broadway World UK/West End Awards in 2014 and the Best Supporting Actress in a Musical Award from the 15th Annual What’s On Stage Awards in 2015 for the same role. She is marking her final days as Gigi these days. She will say goodbye to the role soon to take on Eliza Hamilton in the London production of the top-drawer musical Hamilton.
Maybe she can aspire for a Laurence Olivier Award with that one. That would be very nice but not really necessary. The way things stand now, Rachelle Ann is a star on Broadway and the West End. She has made it big in these global centers of the live performing arts. She has transcended being Filipino and Asian to take her place among the best.
I thought of this while watching Lea Salonga at the Tony Awards that aired last Monday morning, June 12 here. Elegant in her Rajo Laurel pantsuit, the Tony winner for Miss Saigon in 1991 looked every inch a star. I am sure you are all aware of how much our actors and actresses desire to become stars abroad, to be successful and hopefully to live the Hollywood dream. Lea has already fulfilled that dream. She has done it in Hollywood as the voice of Disney princesses Jasmin and Mulan and in the theater as Kim.
And others are now enjoying the perks of the doors she opened 27 years ago. There was in fact, I think it can be said, a Filipino contingent at the Tonys. Lea was joined on stage by Jon Jon Briones, who plays The Engineer in Miss Saigon as presenters. They introduced Miss Saigon as a nominee in the Best Revival of a Musical category. An excerpt followed with Eva Noblezada as Kim, also Pinoy, and Devin Ilaw as Thuy, another Pinoy. And there were Pinoys in the company, too, among them Rachelle Ann in a soldier’s uniform. We have successfully invaded the Great White Way.
Now it would have been really great if Eva had won a Tony on her first time out like Lea did. But with acting legends like Bette Midler for Hello Dolly and Christine Ebersole and Patti Lupone for War Paint as co-nominees our girl just did not have a chance. Still, for a young actress and Asian at that to be mentioned in the same breath as those stars is tantamount to having already won several awards.
More on Pinoys in the theater. The revival production of Miss Saigon is going on tour this year and of course, Pinoys are also in the show. Red Concepcion has been cast as The Engineer and Gerald Santos will be playing Thuy beginning July 3 in Leicester, England. Then there is Christine Allado who is joining the cast of Hamilton in November in the roles of Peggy Schyler and Maria Reynolds.
At the Seattle Repertory Theater, the disco musical Here Lies Love is nearing the end of its limited run this month. But it has been rumored, that it is now looking forward to bigger things. If plans fan out well, the next chance to watch the immersive creation by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim will be on Broadway.
I am sure it will include some Pinoys in the cast. Can you think of actors who can play the roles of President Marcos, Imelda Marcos, Benigno Aquino and Imelda’s nanny Estrella better than Pinoys? Not a chance so wish hard that Mark Bautista as Marcos, Jaygee Macapugay as Imelda, Conrad Ricamora as Aquino and Melody Butiu as Estrella will be singing Broadway here we come soon.
To close, here they are, the winners in the musical category at the 2017 Tony Awards:
•Best Musical: Dear Evan Hansen
•Best Revival of a Musical: Hello Dolly
•Best Book of a Musical: Dear Evan Hansen
•Best Original Score: Dear Evan Hansen
•Lead Actor: Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
•Lead Actress: Bette Midler, Hello Dolly
•Featured Actor: Gavin Creel, Hello Dolly
•Featured Actress: Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
•Direction: Christopher Ashley, Come From Away
•Choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
•Scenic Design: Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812
•Costume Design: Hello Dolly
•Lighting Design: Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812
•Best Orchestration: Dear Evan Hansen