Three world-class performers, two nights, one stage]

MANILA, MARCH 9, 2012 (MANILA TIMES) Written by : Euden Valdez, Staff Writer - IT is a rare accomplishment to be able to fuse three performing arts—musical theater, classical music, and ballet—into a single show. But while it is a feat to do so, to be able to unite three internationally-acclaimed Filipinas from these three disciplines is historical.

Musical theater actress Lea Salonga, classical pianist Cecile Licad and prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde will share a single stage in a two-night-only concert, whose title can only be The Legends and the Classics. This undertaking, worthy of place in the history of Philippine arts and culture, is slated on March 17 and 18 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The three women formally announced the momentous event at a press conference on Wednesday at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Makati City.

“The three of us have very different disciplines, [but] by doing our best, we will fuel the others to do their best as well,” Salonga said, who only emanated with positive energy for the concert.

Indeed, the three talented women are very different performers, but they share one thing in common, and that is the pride and recognition they have each given the Philippines.

Joining this trio of world-class acts are FILharmoniKA and Ballet Manila, as well as internationally renowned cellist Wilfredo Pasamba for a special number. Working hard behind the scenes are stage director Roxanne Lapus; scriptwriter Anjie Ureta; and musical director Gerard Salonga who will also conduct the FILharmoniKA.

A dream project Macuja, who is the concert producer, considers working with the two women a dream-come-true. More so, because she is counting down to her retirement in three years.

Macuja shared that the idea for The Legends and the Classics originally came from lawyer Katrina Legarda who wanted to bring them together in a charity fundraiser back in 2009. For some reason they can hardly remember, the show never pushed through.

But the plan firmly stayed with Macuja. “It became a project that I really wanted to do before I retire . . . This is a dream concert,” she said.

Before asking Salonga and Licad to finally do the show, Macuja first worked with Lapus to come up with a concept—a task that proved to be quite daunting.

Lapus explained, “You know, Lisa talked to me about this show a year ago. It took me several months to come up with a concept. To have three artists of different disciplines blend and create a harmony in just one show was quite elusive for a while.

“One day, I prayed: ‘Lord, help me here.’ And I sat down and started conceptualizing and it started flowing. The very thing that I thought was the impediment became the fueling force—that you’ll have three top-brass performers come together in one show to collaborate with one another.”

As result, to say that so much can be expected is an understatement. Throughout the entire show, Macuja, Salonga and Licad will have solos, duets and trios. Of course, they will each have separate segments to showcase their individual prowess; but expect them to also lead one another into truly collaborative performances.

According to Lapus, both the curtain riser and grand finale will feature the artists in Original Pilipino Music (OPM) presentation of the three artists.

For his part, Gerard Salonga simply counted off Classical, Broadway and OPM for the musical lineup.

LED screens will also be used as a backdrop and to aid in the smooth transition from one segment to another. The videos to be shown are directed by Paul Soriano.

‘Good vibes’ At the launch, it was revealed that it was only the second time Salonga, Licad and Macuja had come together in one venue. Rehearsals, as of the press conference, had not started yet.

More surprisingly, their first meeting just took place the previous day for a photo shoot. But all these pieces of trivia were no barrier to the “good vibes” they all had for the project.

Generously answering questions from the media, the seasoned performers even joked and teased one another in between.

Perhaps the reason behind this is that they do share many things in common. For one, they all started in their respective careers early in life. Salonga had her first musical theater performance at age seven. The same goes for Licad who made her piano debut with a full orchestra, also when she was only seven years old. Macuja, meanwhile, started learning ballet at age eight.

All three have also lived abroad, experienced the international spotlight, and shared the stage with world-class performers like themselves. Salonga earned standing ovations in the West End and Broadway in such major productions as Miss Saigon, Les Miserables and Flower Drum Song to name a few. Licad launched her international career as pianist as the youngest gold medalist at the prestigious Leventritt Competition. And Macuja became a soloist of the legendary Kirov Ballet when she was barely out of her teens.

Because of their unparalleled successes, the prima ballerina can only express her admiration for her fellow artists. “I am a fan of these two women beside me,” Macuja enthused.

She shared how she had watched Salonga’s Miss Saigon and her 30th anniversary concert. And though they always bump into each other at gatherings, Salonga and Macuja never had the chance to personally meet.

Macuja also recalled her first photo opportunity moment with Licad when they were part of a concert at the Luneta Park. “I took my first photo op when she was changing in the comfort room. Nagpakapal na ako ng mukha: ‘Can I have a picture with you?’” she laughed at the memory.

But, as Salonga said, “There’s really no need to make things complicated. It’s just really three people who do what they do and they’ll just do it together.”

Licad described the whole experience by saying, “We’re always laughing [together] so that’s a good sign. Good vibes, good food, nice make-up. We all look good!”

Encouraging the youth The younger generation is encouraged to catch the show as it will be their chance to see Salonga, Licad and Macuja perform, and not just hear or read about them.

Salonga explained, “I think when younger people come to our shows, it tells them that one, we’re still alive; and that we still love what we do . . . Yon lang siguro ang mga pwede naming ipahiwatig sa mga nakakababata sa amin. Find your joy.”

She added, “The younger people who see us as historical figures [will] see the human beings behind the words in their textbooks. That behind all that is a joyful human being only too happy to be able to do what they do.”

The Legends and the Classics is presented by Ballet Manila and Manila Broadcasting Co. Tickets are available at all TicketWorld outlets. For details, check out or call 891-9999.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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