Stephanie Reese: Why she’s called “Standing Ovation Queen” and why she’s got that “Little Big Bang”

IMAGE Melo Balingit

Filipino-American Stephanie Reese is in town to topbill the concert A Little Big Bang at the Music Museum on July 13. Follow her on Twitter @stizzr. Tickets are available at TicketWorld.


Stephanie Reese is back with A Little Big Bang!

Locally, she may not be a household name… yet.

But in the U.S., she has already earned the “standing ovation queen” moniker, and was the first Filipino-American singer to perform at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Prior to these feats, she made a name in Germany by playing Kim in Miss Saigon; at London’s West End as Princess Tuptim in The King and I, and in Disney as Esmeralda of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

One goal that remains on the horizon is to penetrate the mainstream market in her Bicolana mom’s country, the Philippines.

In an exclusive interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) held earlier today, June 26, she nodded when we said the Pinoy crowd is “very hard to please.”

Stephanie said, “I have to say it was like a great training ground for me over the past three years of coming back and forth because, you know, this is a land that loves music.

“And everybody here sings— from the driver to the titas…

“But I’d say that what I really do love about Filipino audience aside from that is also that they’re a nostalgic audience.”

Another observation: most Pinoys are into pop.

She continued, “I used to complain a lot… ‘Oh, they don’t wanna hear my original music, they always want covers.’

“But, it’s because, I think, we are such an emotional and sentimental culture.

“So, in that sense, when you sing a cover, even if you do it in your own style…I mean literally when you sing it on stage and then you see their faces, and they just melt with the first line of the song… So I thought, ‘Okay, I’m okay not doing original…’”

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In the end, this lady who can do both “classical and contemporary” wouldn’t mind giving in to what her listeners want.

Smiling, she remarked, “I like that feeling! You don’t see that anywhere else in the world.

“Also, I like that if I ask the audience to sing, well, they really sing…

“In the States, that doesn’t happen.”

UPCOMING SHOW. She’s back in Manila to hold a one-night show on July 13 at the Music Museum.

The title A Little Big Bang, she said, came from the concert’s director Raymond Lauchengco.

Stephanie added, “I’m little and I have a big voice…

“We want it to also have a slightly broader spectrum than just American’s sound of music, so other than the American Songbook, which is standard, we’ll give it a little bit of twist.

“But I’ll also have some pop music, original song, and a few other surprises…”

This singer-composer-director loves Barbra Streisand, Sarah Brightman, Tracy Chapman, Adele, and Maria Calas—the famous American-born Greek soprano.

Her voice covers a “large variety of music,” so she can be an opera singer, a jazz singer, and Broadway singer.

And she likes it that way.

“I can cross over to different age groups in one show,” she said.

Is she going to sing "Nessun Dorma (None Shall Sleep)”?

She sang this piece, which is from the opera Turandot, at the 10th anniversary of Beverly Hills’ Crustacean Restaurant— where she shared the stage with Natalie Cole and Patti La Belle, and earned a standing ovation.

She also chose this song when asked to perform in front of some fishermen.

“I was told they wouldn’t like it, that I should sing pop. But they gave me a standing ovation, and people were crying,” Stephanie recalled.

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Lesson learned: Never underestimate people.

“You belittle the audience by saying they don’t like it, not even giving them the chance to just hear it,” she remarked.

Music, she said, is universal. “Give them great music, and they will like it…

“The masa, they’re not below anything— whether it’s music or education or anything. We have to believe it.”

And after this concert, her next step: an album.

With much enthusiasm, she said, “I’m hoping that I can find the right record label, and I find right management to believe in that, too, so I’m very happy with that…”


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