‘Bridges of Madison County,’ next up for Atlantis theater group

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Filipino Joanna Ampil

Filipino Joanna Ampil

Saigon’s Joana Ampil and Rock of Ages’ MiG Ayesa lead cast

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The proudly Filipino Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group is preparing to stage another Tony Award winning musical anew, with the Manila staging of The Bridges of Madison County come November.

Officially the first international production of the original Broadway adaptation of the book by Robert James Waller, and the film popularized by Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, The Bridges of Madison County comes at the heels of Atlantis’ successful staging of Saturday Night Fever, which also held a standout Asian tour.

This romantic two-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, tells the story of Iowa housewife Francesca Johnson and her life-changing, four-day whirlwind romance with traveling photographer Robert Kincaid. It’s an unforgettable story of two people caught between decision and desire, as a chance encounter becomes a second chance at so much more.

This brand new production features the beautiful and soulful music of Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years) that draws upon the rich textures of Americana and folk, and the sweeping, expressive balladry of classic Broadway. The Daily News hails his work as “one of Broadway’s best scores in the last decade.”

Leading the cast as Francesca and Robert are two iconic performers of the international musical theatre stage, Filipino Joanna Ampil and Filipino-Australian MiG Ayesa.

Ampil, who rose to stardom in London’s West End as Kim in Miss Saigon, Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar and Christmas Eve in Avenue Q, says of her latest role, “It will be my first musical in Manila after a long hiatus. The last one was The Sound of Music in 2012. I’m hungry for a new challenge and this role of Francesca will certainly give me that challenge, stretch and creativity that I’m always craving for as an artist. Jason Robert Brown and I performed in London sometime ago way before he wrote Bridges and to be able to play a lead in one of his works will be a wonderful experience, because I know that he writes some amazing stuff. I look forward to sharing the stage with MiG Ayesa, also. But, the thing that appealed to me the most was the idea of working for Atlantis for the first time and being directed by Bobby Garcia.”

Filipino-Australian MiG Ayesa.

Filipino-Australian MiG Ayesa.

Ayesa, who performed the role of Stacee Jaxx in Rock of Ages on Broadway and in Manila, says, “I am so thrilled to be returning to the Manila stage with this production. The score written by Jason Robert Brown is so breathtakingly beautiful it has to be considered a modern classic, and well deserved of the Tony Awards it received. I cannot wait to show such a different side to me, as the last time Manila audiences saw me was as the crazed rocker Stacee Jaxx. The chance to be working opposite such a world class performer such as Jo Ampil, as well as under the direction of Bobby Garcia, promises to be an experience I will never forget.

“This will be my second stage production with Atlantis, and it has always been a labor of love in that camp,” he enthused. “And any excuse to visit the Philippines is worth the work! I cannot think of a better way than to return with such a production as beautiful as this.”

Garcia, who directs the musical, for his part related, “I am thrilled to have two of the finest musical theatre performers breathe vibrant life into these iconic characters. Joanna and MiG will be unforgettable as Francesca and Robert. Jason Robert Brown’s score for Bridges is one of the most glorious musical theatre scores in recent memory. It is an honor to be able to stage this show for Manila audiences”

Also in the cast are Carla Guevara-Laforteza in the dual role of Marian and Chiara, Nino Alejandro as Bud, Emeline Celis-Guinid as Marge, Jamie Wilson as Charile, Bibo Reyes as Michael and Mikkie Bradshaw as Caroline. Joining them in the ensemble are Steven Conde, Nel Gomez, Franz Imperial, Yanah Laurel, Abi Sulit and Teetin Villanueva.

Choreography is by Cecile Martinez, Musical Direction by Ceejay Javier, Set Design by Faust Peneyra, Lighting Design by JonJon Villareal, Costume Design by Eric Pineda, Hair and Make Up Design by Johann dela Fuente, and Vocal Direction by ManMan Angsico.

The Bridges of Madison County will run from November 20 to December 6 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City. For more information, call Ticketworld at 891-9999.

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