“OMG! It’s a full circle for me. Yes! Yes! Yes! I am in Tokyo.” was Rajo’s reply when he got the text message from Freddie Santos asking him to do the costumes for The King and I.
Last July 28, during the preview and press Conference for The King and I, at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, Rajo shared his excitement about doing the costumes for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
Rajo announced that, after so many musicals and so many years, The King and I remains his personal favorite.
“Many, many years ago—I won’t tell how old me and Monique were—I played one of the kids, with Lea Salonga, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Raymond Lauchengco. And Tito Freddie was our assistant director.”
The "Tito Freddie" Rajo referred to is Freddie Santos, who is directing The King and I and who has just asked him to do the costumes for the play.
“I drew a lot of inspiration from the strong imprint The King and I had on me,” the well-known couturier said.
Of his costumes for the play, Rajo said: “It’s really an iconic play, and I wanted to stay true to that form, though I did inject my personal nuance of deep romanticism and my penchant for high drama.”
Rajo said that his experience of long ago, when he played one of the children in The King and I, actually made him who he is today.
“I was a bit shy and the worst, according to Tito Freddie, but because of this production I am a fashion designer!
"I fell in love with the costumes, and that experience made me fall in love with clothes.”
Today, he said he was really thrilled to design the costumes for the classic The King and I.
Already, he has made the details very intricate, especially the gown that Monique Wilson, as the governess Anna, will wear in the ball scene.
He laughed to recall how he and his assistant would argue on how big the skirt should be, because it could no longer fit in his fitting room.
“Then my assistant would go 'Sir, parang ang laki po 'ata masyado?' 'No! It can’t be! It has to be bigger that that!'”
The last say, of course, rested with the musical’s director.