Filipino-American chanteuse and musical theater actress Stephanie Reese held her first solo concert in Manila last May 1, 2009. Titled I am Stephanie Reese, it was held at the Teatrino, Promenade in Greenhills Shopping Center.
The one-night concert was filled with audiences ranging from young and old, Filipinos and foreigners alike. The concert narrated Stephanie's personal and musical journey from her childhood. It also explained how she became a singer-actress and how she was able to return to her roots in the Philippines.
Stephanie started the concert by singing the songs that her lola (grandma) taught her when she was young. The audiences were brought back to her childhood days when she gave a compelling rendition of "Que Sera Sera," "Doggie in the Window," "Somewhere My Love" and "Hi Lily Hi Lo."
Stephanie recounted that while growing up in Seattle her parents sent her to different training centers to enhance her skills in singing, dancing and acting. After getting enough work experience, Stephanie reached the dream that every Asian American like her wants to portray in the world of musical theater. She starred as Kim in Miss Saigon in Germany.
Before Stephanie gave her concert audience a feel of Miss Saigon that evening, she impersonated her grandma and told a short story of how her lola started a sari-sari store and sold mongo beans. She did a heartfelt performance of "Sun and Moon" in German and English as the Reese family portraits were flashed on screen.
The svelte songstress demonstrated her incredible vocal power by performing a number of showstopping opera numbers: "Malaguena," "Spente le Stelle," "Habanera" from Carmen. She also performed her original composition called "Choca Locka Boom Boom" that's always the most requested song in any show she does.
But what really impressed the audience was her effortless performance of the popular opera aria "Nessun Dorma" from the final act of Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot. It was her rendition of this aria that made Patti LaBelle call her the "little girl with a big voice," and which also earned Stephanie the title "Standing Ovation Queen."
Before the evening ended, Stephanie showed her versatility as a singer by singing a wide range of repertoire and this included singing some kundiman and Original Pilipino Music (OPM) hits. She sampled the audience with a medley comprised of "Dahil Sa 'Yo," "Sarong Banggi," "Usahay" and "Ikaw."
Finally, Stephanie thanked the people who made the concert a reality, one of which is her best friend Sarah Soliven de Guzman. Stephanie called on their mutual friend George Yang to sing a duet with her. When they performed "The Prayer," members of the audience marveled at how their voices complemented each other. George even sang some parts in Italian with a flawless diction.
As the show came to a close, Stephanie said that she had one more "audition" to do that night. "I stand before you as Stephanie Reese the Filipino. I hope by the end of this song, all of you will accept me as a true Filipino." And she gave an intense and sincere interpretation of "Bayan Ko" and "Ako ay Pilipino."
On that note, Stephanie had the audiences on their feet as a sign of their approval. This just shows that this proud Fil-Am singer deserves her title of "Standing Ovation Queen."