Tanya Manalang fondly recalls her stint as Kim on West End's Miss Saigon

by Kaye Koo
Sep 29, 2016
Tanya Manalang played Kim for two years in West End's Miss Saigon. This October, she is cast as dancer Susan in the autobiographical piece Tick, Tick... BOOM!

Tanya Manalang will once again appear on stage for 9 Works Theatrical's Tick, Tick... BOOM!

The rock musical was written in 1990 originally as a one-man show by RENT's Jonathan Larson. It was then transformed into a three-actor chamber musical, first seen off-Broadway in 2001.

Tanya will play dancer Susan, a challenging role as it also involves playing other characters in this autobiographical piece.

Tick, Tick... BOOM will be staged from October 1-23, 2016, at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City.

In the past, Tanya has played Tuptin in The King and I (Resorts World Manila), Liesl von Trapp in The Sound of Music (Resorts World Manila), Carla in In The Heights (Atlantis), and Lucy Pevensie in the 1997 musical The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (Trumpets) then later on Susan.

She is on her second Philippine production for 2016 since getting back from West End. Her first musical in the Philippines this 2016 was Rak of Aegis (PETA) where she played the lead Aileen alongside Aicelle Santos, Kim Molina, and Alisah Bonaobra.

Tanya shares that Philippine theater "it's thriving, it's fun, Filipinos have so much talent, we're building that right now, di tayo kulang sa talent."

She says that while London has West End and New York has Broadway, Philippine theater is also going somewhere big.

She played Kim for two years in Cameron Mackintosh's critically acclaimed Miss Saigon and she admits "feeling ko three years ago na yun. I miss it but I am happier here that is why I am also staying."

She says playing Kim taught her "to be less afraid. I may still be the same shy girl, to be honest, but when it gets serious, just don't be afraid."

She adds, "I lived in a different world there, I was on my own and I was forced to not be afraid."

Her biggest advice to anyone who wants to do theater abroad "if you want something just go for it, if you have to do something just do it, without fear."

She jokes that her big smile and loud personality "that's my defense mechanism to be kengkoy, but I am really shy."

There really is no one single formula for success she explains "it's subjective, case to case, about what the individual wants, me I long for family, friends, home and if I can have everything right here and my career then I am sticking my ass in this country!"

She continues "if you haven't experienced these things and you want to, just go, try living on your own in a different country, it's very fulfilling, I am glad I did it, I had the best time. I miss living in a first-world country on my own, being independent, without traffic..."

For her, any theater actor who wants to go should just do it "don't be pressured by people telling you, you should stay here or go there, follow what you want, it's your life. Go for it, I did it and now I have a point of comparison."

The secret, she says is "huwag ka lang duwag, to be honest, it's that. If I had let fear get the best of me, I wouldn't be where I am right now, I wouldn't be on this stage, I would probably be in my room."

Tanya, who loves to draw, stresses: "Don't let fear get in the way, that's it. Everything stems from fear, when you feel you're not good enough, that's fear."

Twenty-five years later, she knows she will still look fondly on her Miss Saigon run, even if it means that will have been her only international stage experience.

The former Kim will tell her kids "anak, my fondest memory was yung opening show of Saigon, that was the only time, the day of that, in the afternoon actually during matinee rehearsal: that was my first full rehearsal with costume, whole cast, everything. I only felt the whole show that afternoon and at the same night I did it, anak, I think I kicked some ass, you should be proud of mom!"

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Tanya Manalang played Kim for two years in West End's Miss Saigon. This October, she is cast as dancer Susan in the autobiographical piece Tick, Tick... BOOM!
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