By Lea Salonga
Philippine Daily Inquirer
June 19, 2013 | 8:31 pm
TOKYO—Backstage in conversation with Sierra Boggess, one of my costars in the “4Stars” concert (series in Tokyo and Osaka, with Sierra, Ramin Karimloo, and Yu Shirota), the term “show pony” came up. The term was coined by her “Love Never Dies” director, Jack O’Brien, to describe certain people.
There are horses that are perfectly happy eating the grass on a meadow. Others need to run in races. Then there are show ponies. To quote Jack speaking to Sierra, “All you need is a little food and off you go!”
A show pony is one that responds to the calling of the ring, coming alive when the lights hit and the music starts. That’s exactly what happens with performers … actors and singers who come alive once an overture begins to play.
Sierra and I arrived in Tokyo on June 10 (Ramin had been in the city a week, spending quality time with his wife Amanda and their sons Jaden and Hadley; and Yu had just returned from Kyoto, fresh from shooting a made-for-TV movie). Thankfully, we weren’t yet required to do anything related to the show.
Our concert duties started the next day with a rehearsal in a studio, where we reunited with Daniel Kutner (director), Fred Lassen (musical director and conductor), Yukichi Hattori (choreographer), and the Umegei staff. Despite our very jet-lagged state, we were able to run through the entire concert without many stops. We were rewarded with a day off on Wednesday in preparation for our orchestra rehearsal at the theater on Thursday.
The orchestra played precisely as expected—everything with almost machine-like accuracy. However, you could tell that, behind all the precision were human beings who could feel the music coursing through their veins, playing with passion and humanity. Two of my favorite musicians are the bleach blonde concertmaster who really commands that string section, and the über cute percussionist … looks like a demure, petite Japanese doll. She rocks every instrument she plays.
Bentley of mics
Right by the monitor console were our microphones, beautifully presented in a wooden box, labeled with our names. When I picked up my mic to sing our first song, I completely geeked out! I was holding a Neumann KK105S capsule attached onto a Sennheiser 5000 series wireless body. This is the Bentley of microphones … the most awesome tool of my trade. And there were three of them. We rehearsed with the mics we’d be using for the concert to give our sound designer information on our voices.
Friday, June 14 was the day for our technical rehearsals, to see what the show would feel like in costume. We had fittings early in the day, followed by adjustments made on site. We checked our shoes … quick changes … make-up and hair… and we had a run through to finish off the day. Saturday the 15th was opening night. We had our final dress rehearsal (with cameras and members of the press present) in the afternoon, and then a little rest at night.
The evening of the 15th was different. I don’t know, but there’s something that clicks in my brain when I know that rehearsals are officially over and performances are about to begin. The adrenaline starts pumping, my body starts feeling a buzz, and it’s as if I had just gulped 10 cups of coffee. Japanese lyrics are going through my head at rapid speeds, and a hint of paranoia starts coursing through my veins. Whatever calm was present in me is no longer there, replaced by very aggressive butterflies.
I hear the calls coming over the PA system. This is your 30-minute call. Then 20, then 15 … my dresser comes in to help me, as all my costumes zip up the back … 10… 5. At that last call, I get up and head over to the stage area.
I grab my microphone and take one last sip of water. The stage manager tells me to stand by. Once I hear the music play, I hear my heart beating just that much faster, and feel my hands start to sweat. My cue comes, and off I go, making my first steps on stage. Then the lights hit me, and I’m a different human being, thriving at the sight of the audience in their seats. I know I’m meant to be here. I love being here. There is no other place I’d rather be.
I am a show pony. And proud of it.
On behalf of my fellow coaches, as well as the staff and crew of “The Voice of the Philippines,” allow me to say “Thank you!” to everyone who tuned in last weekend! I was able to catch the episodes, thanks to TFC, and they were so much fun!
Right now, our teams are barely formed, what with either one or two team members per coach thus far: I’ve got Darryl Shy, Tau Muhammad and Chien Berbaña; Bamboo has Deb Victa; Apl has Thor Dulay and Corazon de la Cruz; and finally Sarah has Junji Arias. It’s all shaping up, you guys!
So … who are the next team members on their way? Find out this Saturday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 8:15 p.m. See you all then!