Joanna Ampil praises Rachelle Ann Go for her portrayal of Gigi in the West End revival of Miss Saigon.
Joanna, who portrayed Kim in Miss Saigon (1993-1995), said she was able to watch the earlier run of the West End musical during her stay in London.
When asked about Rachelle Ann’s performance, Joanna excitedly described, “Rachelle was so sexy in the show. She’s so beautiful. She has the best costumes, I think.”
She also pointed out, “Even if Gigi is a featured role, they made it look big.
“Also, Rachelle has this amazing presence on stage.
“You kind of leave [the show] wanting for more of Rachelle’s voice.”
Joanna is just as impressed by 18-year-old Filipino-American actress Eva Noblezada, who plays Kim this new version of Miss Saigon.
As a Filipina theater actress who was first known in Miss Saigon, Joanna feels very proud to see other Pinays making it big in the popular production.
She disclosed, “The fact na maraming nag-a-audition pa rin at dito sila nagpupunta, I think we should look at it na marami pa ring talented Filipinos.
“Marami talagang talented Filipinos na mag-a-audition.
“The fact na dito talaga sila pumupunta para maghanap ng talent, that says a lot about our country and the talents here.
“We should be proud of that.”
Apart from Rachelle, other Pinay singers who tried their luck and received a final call back during the audition were Sunday All Stars mainstays Frencheska Farr and Aicelle Santos.
If ever there is a chance to be a part of a international productions such as Miss Saigon, Joanna gives these reminders: “Dapat maraming disiplina, that’s for sure, that’s number one.
“I suppose, never giving up on your dream and not taking things personally.
“Mahirap na sa industry na ‘to, maraming masasabi na hindi maganda.
“May maganda rin pero more often than not, naa-affect tayo.
“I think, the best thing I learned is never taking things personally and never take yourself too seriously.”
THEN AND NOW. When asked to compare the way Miss Saigon was mounted during her time to Laurence Connor’s new version, Joanna said there were slight changes in terms of acting and production.
She said, “I think our version is more stylized because it was such a huge stage to fill.
“‘Yong acting namin mas stylized para mas maka-cater doon sa kalakihan ng theater at kalayuan ng mga taong nanonood kasi malaki rin ‘yong space.
“That was the version of [Nicholas] Hytner. This one is Lawrence Connor.
“Although our version is much accessible, kasi mas malapit ang audience sa kanila, so the acting is slightly different.”
Despite these differences, Joanna said she still enjoyed watching the new version of Miss Saigon.
“Watching it is like reliving it again,” she said.
“I absolutely adore the production.
“I’ve seen it before, during the tour, so they re-staged the production.
“I’ve always been a fan of that production because it’s a scaled-down production but it works really well and it’s more theatrical for me.”
Joanna is now based here in the Philippines and is currently promoting her self-titled album under Viva Records.