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Friday, August 3, 2012

Prepare for The Royal Staging of THE KING AND I at Resorts World Manila (Premieres September 15)

P.O.T.G. FEATURE (Theater):

Last year, I had the chance to witness the grand staging of The Sound of Music in Resorts World Manila.  And it was indeed a spectacular experience!  And while I was amazed with the successful run of The Sound of Music, I asked myself how can Resorts World Manila top this feat?  And indirectly, RWM answered my query with an invitation to a yet another gigantic production of a Broadway classic - THE KING AND I!

Leo Valdez as King and Monique Wilson as Anna
Like The Sound of Music, THE KING AND I is also memorable to me as this is another story that was introduced to me by my late father.  He said that THE KING AND I is like the Sound of Music, family oriented with a backdrop of history, and well loved globally.

And now, I and the rest of our countrymen will have the chance to witness this magnificent Broadway musical with great Filipino talents at the helm, courtesy of Resorts World Manila!  

As the country's primary venue for superb world-class entertainment and the one-stop, non-stop haven for superlative thrills, Resorts World Manila (RWM) is offering its third theater production starting the 15th of September with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King And I. The mega-musical shall be staged at the majestic halls of the Newport Performing Arts Theater (NPAT) within RWM’s Newport Mall.

After setting a record-breaking 128 shows for its sophomore offering The Sound Of Music, Resorts World Manila aims to take it up a notch by providing theatre patrons a truly superlative production that features a stellar all-Filipino cast.  And this what adds up to my excitement because aside from The King And I’s timeless story and grand scale production values, how can I not be amazed with Philippines’ theater giants going back to the country to perform for their fellow countrymen? After seeing Joanna Ampil’s mind blowing performance in The Sound of Music, I am more than eager to witness how inimitable theater legend Leo Valdez as King Mongkut and elegant stage great Monique Wilson as Anna can magnetize the Filipino audience with their world class caliber!

And aside from the two theater greats, equally talented Filipino artists are completing the cast!  The King and I also features Bo Cerrudo and Sheila Valderrama as alternates for King Mongkut and Anna, Gina Respall and Apple Chui as Lady Thiang, Tanya Manalang and Marian Santiago as Tuptim, and Lorenz Martinez and Floyd Tena as Lun Tha, among others.  Gina Respall who has been doing KING AND I in different parts of the world shared her excitement about this production.  "How fortunate I am to be doing my show in my own country.  This cast is very strong especially the children, they speak like adults!  And Leo, he's the strongest King I have ever seen!  And I've been longing to work with Monique Wilson, this is a dream come true." 

Gina Respall as Lady Thiang

Anton Posadas as Prince Chulalongkorn and James Gabriel Ketcher as Louis Leonowens

Sheila Valderrama as Anna

Bimbo Cerrudo and Leo Valdez as King

Tanya Manalang as Tuptim and Lorenz Martinez as Lun Tha

Floyd Tena as Lun Tha and Marian Santiago as Tuptim

But how is this similar or different from the original musical?   Resorts World Manila's KING AND I director Freddie Santos explained that the venue affected the impact and interpretation of the production.  He said that you can do a lot with a very huge stage that can even fit two basketball courts.  "The dimensions are tremendous!  Its monumental without losing its intimacy," said the prolific stage director who was the assistant director during THE KING AND I's staging in the 80s. 

Direk Freddie Santos

In music, it's more classical than broadway but the attack is pop so that the new generation can relate more to it.  In terms of story, there's much more emotional treatment of the show but the technical excellence is still there.  But the values of the original story is there: Respect for culture, family and country; Celebrating differences; and Building bridges instead of walls. 

Aside from being staged at the grandest and most state-of-the-art theater in the country, The King and I also boasts of promising new sets of production props; lights, sound, and video technologies; and even the most exquisitely designed wardrobe helmed by no less than Philippine fashion icon Rajo Laurel.  Rajo said that the THE KING AND I is one of his dream projects.  Direk Freddie shared what Rajo replied when he texted him about the play.  "OMG, it's a full circle for me.  Yes, yes, am in Tokyo," Rajo in his SMS reply to Direk Freddie.  The popular fashion designer shared that he was one of the King's kids during its run in the 80s (so both Rajo and Direk Freddie are back to working for KING AND I!)  together with Lea Salonga, Raymond Lauchengco, etc.  "This led me to where I am now!  I fell in love with the clothes of THE KING AND I!" said Rajo. And he's happy and proud that now, he is the one dressing up the King and Anna.

Rajo Laurel

Fans will surely be enticed by the fresh take of prolific stage authority Direk Freddie Santos on the beloved classic, as he spices up the immortal tale of Anna and the King of Siam, complementing the dreamy scoring courtesy of the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Maestro Rodel Colmenar.

Sourced from the 1944 novel by Margaret Landon’s chronicle of Anna Leonowens memoirs, as she was chosen to become governess to King Mongkut of Siam’s many children in the early 1860’s, The King and I tells the travails of a British schoolteacher and her life in a foreign land, marred by conflict and an unexpressed love for the King.

The tale was further popularized by the 1956 movie headlined by legendary actor Yul Brynner and the beautiful Gertrude Lawrence, stamping it as a definitive hit and winning for Brynner the coveted Academy Award the following year. Later, revivals of the classic musical were also featured in Broadway and the West End.

The press asked the cast and production team that with the popularity of the visual media like films, independent and commercial alike, how can theater thrive in the Philippines.  Monique Wilson answered, "It is just as worthy medium as films.  But nothing beats live.  Be there when it all happens."  Leo Valdez explained, "(Theater) It is something to be experienced.  (As actors), we are able to connect to our audience."

Direk Freddie on the other hand was asked that with stage productions left and right, is the Philippine theater industry alive already?  Direk Freddie said, "Campus theater is rising.  But professional theater is not rising as fast as I want.  'Hopefully, this (THE KING AND I) will be the start of the rise,"  Monique Wilson added that in UK, the government supports the theater.  Here in the Philippines, they are happy that corporations like Resorts World Manila are behind the theater industry but there will be a much more push if there's government support.  She said that theater is part of culture.  And government should support that.   Monique, addressing the audience, added "Please support theater.  Please support the Filipino artists.  We can't allow it to die."

On September 15, Resorts World Manila brings to the country this revered romance for the whole family to enjoy, with a gamut of special attractions and a critically-acclaimed cast of thespians that will definitely leave a magical impression to viewers of all ages.

the show's scene stealer, the lovable elephant!  :)

Catch The King And I and be enchanted once again by this boundless romance that has enamored millions all over the world for decades.

Tickets are now on sale at the Resorts World Manila Box Office and all TicketWorld outlets. For more information on The King and I schedules visit www.rwmanila.com or call the Tourist/Visitor Hotline at (632) 836-6333.

About Resorts World Manila

Resorts World Manila (RWM) is the first one-stop, non-stop entertainment and leisure destination in the Philippines that features exciting recreational thrills, superlative performances, unique events, and spectacular lifestyle options. Conveniently located across Ninoy Aquino International Airport 3, RWM is an instant gateway to world-class Philippine hospitality. This integrated lifestyle hub is home to three international lodging brands: the all-luxury suite Maxims Hotel; the five-star brand Marriott Hotel Manila; and Remington Hotel which offers cozy and superb accommodations for great value.

Also home to RWM is The Newport Mall which features international luxury brands. Experience a unique viewing experience at The Newport Cinemas with stadium seating and state-of-the-art cinema projectors. Watch grand-scale performances at the 1,500-seater, ultra modern Newport Performing Arts Theater (NPAT), which boasts of state-of-the-art lights and sounds technology, and the largest LED wall in all of Southeast Asia, or relax in the cozy interior and chilling 24/7 entertainment provided for you at Bar 360.

Spend a whole family day affair with the many attractions offered by GameZoo amusement center, including exclusive multi-dimensional virtual rides, exclusive arcade games, and more fantastic activities for kids of all ages. Amp all the thrilling excitement offered exclusively by Resorts World Manila by becoming a cardholder! Membership at RWM is free and provides an instant pass to numerous discounts, freebies, and exclusive invites to RWM events.

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