Ask around in Dulaang UP and you'd get the facts. Ms. Sumalinog, a Theater Arts certificate holder from the university, trained under Tony Mabesa and was the original Momayon (alternating with Eugene Domingo) in the straight play version of Floy Quintos' "St. Louis Loves Dem Filipinos." She was also part of the all-female version of Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" directed by Jose Estrella.
In the mid-'90s, Ms. Sumalinog joined the Stuttgart (Germany) production of "Miss Saigon," first playing Gigi and then eventually becoming Kim. She came back last year to star in Dulaang UP's "Gabriela, an Oratorio," directed by Mr. Mabesa. I panned the play, but praised Ms. Sumalinog for her "superb vocal work."
From "Gabriela's" playbill:
"Lanie is a Germany-based actress... with a Certificate in Theater Arts from UP Diliman. Other than Tagalog she is fluent in English and German. Theater credits [abroad] include 'Jesus Christ Superstar' (Mary Magdalene), 'West Side Story' (Rosalia and understudy for Maria), 'Glockner von Notre Dame,' 'Les Miserables' (Cossette and Eponine) and excerpts from 'The Phantom of the Opera' (ensemble/soprano)."
Ms. Sumalinog was part of that generation of Filipino theater artists who came after the pioneering batch of Lea Salonga, Monique Wilson, Junix Inocian, Isay Alvarez, Michael Williams et al established a beachhead in Western theater capitals with "Miss Saigon." The musical's Stuttgart production featured a number of Filipino actors in the cast, among them Aura Deva as Kim, Robert Sena as Thuy, Ms. Sumalinog as Gigi, Caselyn Francisco as a Kim understudy, and Jon Joven, Eladio Pamaran and Jake Macapagal in the ensemble. The show had its own original cast album in German.
That she could hop from one unique role to the next--Mary Magdalene in "Jesus Christ Superstar," Cossette and Eponine in "Les Miserables," Maria in "West Side Story"--testifies to Ms. Sumalinog's range as a musical theater actress. Her career closely parallels that of another Filipina performer, Joanna Ampil, who has become a recognizable name in the West End with roles in almost the same musical productions.
I've just been told (by Tuxqs Rutaquio, her friend) that Ms. Sumalinog is now a cast member of the premiere German production of the smash Broadway musical "Wicked," opening also in Stuttgart. She's in the ensemble, but will understudy the part of Nessarose, the crippled sister of Elphaba (the role made famous by Idina Menzel). The show, with a creative team from the Broadway and West End productions, will open on November 15, 2007. It will also have its own CD recording.
Bravo, Lanie Sumalinog! Break a leg and defy gravity!
PLUS: You didn't think I'd leave it at that, did you? Ms. Sumalinog's voice is enchanting theatergoers in Europe. Time for us to hear her, too.
1. Mein Marchenfilm Vom Gluck (The Movie in My Mind): From the original cast album of "Miss Saigon"-Stuttgart, with Ms. Sumalinog as Gigi and Aura Deva as Kim.
2. God Help the Outcasts: From the Disney animated movie "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." I'm not sure whether this was turned into a stage musical in Europe; Ms. Sumalinog tackles the pop arrangement originally sung by Bette Midler in the movie's soundtrack album.
3. Elisabeth. Not sure too if this came from a German musical, but the melody of this song suggests it did. Ms. Sumalinog's voice--sweet, expressive, dramatic--is a joy to listen to even in a foreign tongue.