Landing a role in the Cameron Mackintosh production of West End’s Miss Saigon is probably the biggest dream a singer-actress can ever realize.
Even more for one who does not have a formal training in stage acting, like Rachelle Ann Go.
For her, being given the opportunity to play the role of Gigi Van Tranh in the revival of Miss Saigon this year is a very big blessing in her career.
The 27-year-old Kapuso artist never even thought of doing a stage musical when she was younger and aspiring to be a singer.
“I never imagined that I’m going to be part of the theater world,” Rachelle said in a short chat with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other members of entertainment media.
She had just finished her photo shoot for her upcoming send-off concert on February 22.
She said, “Kasi parang bata pa lang ako, I always wanted to be a singer.
"Pero gusto ko lang ng concert, ng album, but not to be an actress.
“Hindi ko talaga na-imagine.
"Kasi ayaw ko ‘yong pressure. Feeling ko hindi ko kaya.”
MULTIFACETED. From being the grand champion in the singing talent show Search for a Star 10 years ago, Rachelle went on to make her mark in the industry as a multifaceted artist.
Two years ago, Rachelle was cast as the lead actress in the local stage adaptation of the popular Disney animation Little Mermaid.
It was during this time, according to Rachelle, when she started dreaming about doing more acting on stage.
“Si Direk Bobby [Garcia, Atlantis Productions] talaga ang may kasalanan ng lahat e.
"Pinilit niya talaga ako,” Rachelle laughed.
She recalled, “Sabi ko, ‘Direk Bobby, wala talaga akong alam sa acting.’
“Wala akong alam sa teatro, wala akong training, wala talaga.
“Talagang nagtiwala lang si Direk Bobby sa akin.
“After doing that, sabi ko nga, 'I fell in love with theater.'
“Gusto kong gawin... gusto kong gumawa every year na.”
This wish came true as Rachelle was once again cast by Direk Bobby in Tarzan: The Stage Musical.
In this 2013 Viva Atlantis stage production, she played the role of the female lead character, Jane Porter.
DREAM BIG. The dream even grew bigger when Rachelle was given the Best Actress award by Broadway World Philippines last year.
Rachelle said she really wanted that award.
“Nilagay ko ‘yon sa parang wishlist ko.
“Nilagay ko doon na parang Best Actress award.
“Wala lang, talagang gusto ko lang ilagay doon.
“After a year, nanalo nga ako doon sa Broadway World,” she disclosed.
This was when she became convinced that dreams do come true.
“Posible pala talaga.
"After that, sabi ko sana magkaroon ako ng musical abroad.
“Before Little Mermaid, when I was in Canada, nakita ko ‘yong Miss Saigon doon.
“Noon, wala pa akong idea talaga. Wala pa akong experience.
“Noong nakita ko ‘yong Miss Saigon, masyado akong naapektuhan sa story.
“Sabi ko, nakita ko ‘yong sarili ko sa stage na ginagawa ko ‘yon. Kaya sabi ko, ‘One day gagawin ko ‘yan.’
“Then, sunud-sunod na.”
ROLE IN MISS SAIGON. In 2012, Rachelle made her move to land a part in the revival of Miss Saigon in London. She auditioned, as did the other local singers Frencheska Farr, Aicelle Santos, and Karylle.
It took almost a year before Rachelle got the confirmation that she would be included in the cast of Miss Saigon.
Faced suddenly by a bigger challenge, the young singer did not waste any time to prepare for the role of Gigi, which was previously played by musical theater actress Isa Alvarez in 1989.
Rachelle related, “Ngayon, nagsisimula akong mag-dance class.
“Kailangan ko rin kasing matuto ng jazz. Wala akong training pagdating sa ganyan.
“Voice lesson also, iba rin kasi sa musicals e, bawal mapaos doon.
“Kailangan prepared ako pagdating ko roon.
“Kailangan ko ring mag-exercise para sa role na gagawin ko sa Miss Saigon, si Gigi nga.
“Alam naman natin na medyo sexy ‘yong magiging costume niya so, kailangan maging fit.”
ADVICE. Rachelle also related that she received advice from other Filipina actors who have had the experience of performing abroad.
These include Lea Salonga, the original Kim, the lead character in Miss Saigon, and Lea's successor Joanna Ampil.
In March, Rachelle will be heading to London to start her preparation for Miss Saigon with the other cast members.
According to her, she will have two months to prepare for the role before Miss Saigon begins on May 2014 at the Prince Edward Theatre in London.
Rachelle will be staying in London for 14 months.
PASSION AND SINCERITY. With all the blessings she received in her career, Rachelle has realized, “Walang masamang mangarap. Libre ang mangarap.”
To inspire young singers, Rachelle shared this thought, “Lagi kong sinasabi na lahat ng gusto mong ma-achieve sa buhay, madadaan talaga sa dasal.
“‘Yong desire ni God kasi, the more na nagpe-pray ka, the more na ‘yon ang nagiging desire ng puso mo.
“‘Yong mga lugar na hindi mo ine-expect mapuntahan, doon ka niya ilalagay.”
She also emphasized, “Kailangan ‘yong passion din sa ginagawa mo.
“Kailangan lagi kang on fire sa ginagawa mo.
“Kailangan lagi mong mahal ang ginagawa mo at saka kailangan laging nakikita ng tao ‘yong sincerity mo.
“Mahirap maging teknikal lalo na sa singing at sa performances.
“Nakikita ng mga tao ‘yong pagiging teknikal.
“Kailangan laging nandoon ‘yong puso at laging mahal mo lang ‘yong trabaho mo.
“‘Yon lang naman ang importante roon, e, maging totoo ka sa sarili mo.”