Boublil and Schönberg give back to a talented race

(From left) Michel Schönberg, Lea Salonga, French theater actress Marie Zamora, and Alain Boublil

(From left) Michel Schönberg, Lea Salonga, French theater actress Marie Zamora, and Alain Boublil

Internationally acclaimed creators of Miss Saigon and Les Misérables, Alain Boublil and Claude Michel Schönberg, have partnered once again for a very meaningful show. Titled Do You Hear the People Sing?, the concert runs for two nights beginning this evening at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila in Pasay City.

Arriving for a press conference Monday before conducting rehearsals, Boublil and Schönberg, in separate interviews with The Manila Times, both described their latest production as one that is made “by Filipinos, for Filipinos.”

It is made by Filipinos, because the two-night concert will feature the best talents in Philippine music and theater, led by Boublil and Schönberg’s jewel of a discovery in Lea Salonga who holds the distinction as the first Kim of Miss Saigon in 1989. Joining Salonga is a powerhouse ensemble comprised of Filipino soloists, thespians, choirs and orchestra.

On the other hand, the show is made for Filipinos because Boublil and Schönberg are mounting this special two-night presentation of their most famous compositions in their benevolent aim of raising funds for the victims of the devastating Typhoon Yolanda.

“We have a lot to give back to Filipinos because they have given as a lot to us,” declared Boublil.

According to the lyricist, he and Schönberg were blessed to have met “amazing Filipino performers” who played important roles in their theater productions. Sharing such an affinity with this talented race, they knew they had to do something to help the country recover from November’s incredible tragedy.

“With our long relationship with the Philippines, it only felt natural to be doing this,” Schönberg added.

According to Boublil, the lyricist between the two, it was he and Schönberg who personally asked the artists in performing bill to sing in the show for free. Of course, the artists were more than willing to do so, for not only would they be able to help their countrymen in the Visayas, but also savor the opportunity to work once more, or for the first time, with the pair of musical geniuses.

For their part Boublil and Schönberg, are hoping to raise some $500,000, which will be allotted toward the construction of 200 houses in Central Visayas, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Philippines.

And so, besides helping such a worthy cause, concertgoers will be treated to a fantastic evening of Boublil and Schönberg’s greatest works. Memorable songs from Miss Saigon and Les Miserables, as well as pieces from Martin Guerre, The Pirate Queen and La Révolution Française make up the concert’s powerful repertoire.

“Do You Hear the People Sing? began two years ago when Claude and I were inspired to make an interesting evening for people who cannot afford to go to expensive theaters, or simply do not have theaters near their place,” Boublil shared.

“It’s a night of just music and lyrics,” Schönberg described. “But besides this, the stories of the stars and the creative team will also be part of the concert in order for the people to understand that a lot of things happen behind every production.”

In previous years, the concert had only been staged in the United States and Hong Kong. Tonight heralds its Philippine premiere, and will see its original solo performers, Salonga, David Harris and Marie Zamora.

Eight other Filipino thespians have been chosen to join the performers’ slate, namely newly cast Miss Saigon player Rachelle-Ann Go, Jon Joven, Carla Guevara Laforteza, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Jed Madela, Cocoy Laurel, Michael Williams and Leo Tavarro Valdez.

Unique to the Philippine tour is the special participation of former Miss Saigon ensemble members including Pinky Amador, Analin Bantug, Edward Bungalon, Tricia Canilao-Buser, Robbie Guevara, Natalie Everett, Jake Macapagal, Lora Nicolas, Jun Ofrasio, Ivy Padilla, Aileen Payumo, Amparo Sietreales, Christine Sambeli Marquez, Arnold M Trinidad, Jojo Urquico, Gina Respall, Meliza Reyes and Christian Rey Marbella.

The ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra will play the music of Boublil and Schönberg under the baton of musical director Gerald Salonga. Completing the roster is s 100-member choir with 80 adults and 20 children.

Finally, Boublil revealed that a new song, which is set to be included in this year’s West End revival of Miss Saigon, will have its premiere in the show. Sung by Go, who will soon fly to London for the production, the composition is entitled, “Maybe.”


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