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Lea Salonga Leads Launch of Manila's Newest Theatre

Tony winner Lea Salonga (Photo: Erickson Dela Cruz)

Manila, Philippines--Broadway and London's West End star Lea Salonga recently led Filipino opera, ballet, and theater performers at the grand launch of The Theatre at Solaire Resort and Casino, the current home of the international touring company of the hit Broadway musical "Chicago."

Salonga, best known for her portrayal of Kim in the original London and Broadway productions of "Miss Saigon," was also the first Asian actress to recreate the tragic heroines Eponine and Fantine in "Les Miserables" (Les Mis) on Broadway.

During the launch, Salonga, beaming in a lavender dress designed by Filipino fashion designer Rajo Laurel, performed a Broadway suite, which included hit songs from Broadway musicals "Cats," where she played Grizabella, "Les Mis," and "Wicked." She showcased once again her famed crystal-clear singing voice that reverberated in the four corners of the brand new performance hall.

The Theatre's "Constellation," An Acoustic System

Apart from its claim that there is no single bad seat in the 1,750 lyric theatre, The Theatre, is also said to be an ideal venue for all forms of performing arts, such as musical theater productions, operas, concerts, ballets, circus acts, and children's shows. The venue's installed "Constellation," an acoustic system, makes any performance on stage not just a spectacle, but a real, rare experience for the audience.

Gerard Salonga, resident conductor and musical director of ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, boasts what "Constellation" can provide to classical symphony concerts. "It's a wonderful system," he said. "When I first heard about the 'Constellation' system, I was quite skeptical. And then I read more about it; it's totally legit."

He even adds that the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra uses the same acoustic system when it travels outside its own concert halls.

The Theatre Has Its Own Rehearsal Halls

Filipino composer and conductor Ryan Cayabyab has only praise for The Theatre, which,according to him, is an ideal home for original Filipino musicals.

"[The Theatre's] rehearsal halls, like these, are where the shows you have watched were first imagined. One moment, the composer sits here alone, fiddling on the keyboard; the next moment, a whole rhythm section joins in to accompany a singer.

"The next thing could be that of the director and his actors working out a scene. In the quietness and emptiness of rooms like these, there is risk; there is danger; and there is electricity. The result could be a great concert that you listen to or enjoy as the spectacle takes your breath away. In my case, an original Filipino musical that combines great singing, moving acting, and a unique perspective of a world we live in."

During the launch, excerpts from some original Filipino musicals were performed by Robert Seña and Isay Alvarez (Katy, Magsimula Ka); Karylle and Christian Bautista (Rama Hari); and Aicelle Santos and Myke Salomon (Rak of Aegis).

Philippine theater stalwart Audie Gemora is The Theatre's director for entertainment.

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