You asked for it, Lorna--you got it.
Or, perhaps the better words to say are, “Sorry for the delay?” Because I did promise a couple of months ago, in an entry about Filipina West End star Joanna Ampil and my brief video interview with her, that I would upload sample tracks from her just-released CD in a follow-up post.
That follow-up entry has been put off time and again--laziness, is all--but I've no excuse now. Not with Lorna reminding me about it, and not with the good news that Joanna is coming home later this year to star as Maria in Stages' production of West Side Story (alternating with pop singer Karylle).
This marks the first time that Joanna will perform in a theater production before Manila audiences. That makes this show, in consumer shorthand, a “must-see.” In fact, it's nothing less than a coup for Stages to have signed her up for this role (props to you, director Audie Gemora!).
For the last 16 years, Joanna has made a huge name for herself in London, appearing successively in some of the West End's biggest musicals. It bears repeating what Mark Duffy, of the Association of Irish Musicals Society, said of her performance in the 2005 musical revue The Musical of Musicals: “...Joanna as Princess Jade shows why she is a major West End performer with stunning vocals.”
Vocally, I think, she's highly equipped for the role of Maria, as her soprano singing in the CD shows. Now, about Karylle, I'll be honest: I've never particularly liked her as a singer--or at least what I've seen of her so far on TV, with her nasal sound and wobbly notes. But who knows? She just might surprise us yet. I hope she does. If my doubts prove baseless, I'd be happy to eat my words, pass the ketchup, please...
For the playlist below, I chose four songs that, collectively, showcase Joanna's remarkable vocal versatility: the light-operatic, worlds-away-from-Sarah-Brightman Think Of Me and All I Ask of You (from Phantom of the Opera--she duets with Niklas Andersson in the latter song), the hard-driving pop-rock number Out Tonight (from Rent) and the full-throttle Broadway warhorse I Dreamed A Dream (from Les Miserables). The last track is, in my book, one of the most heart-rendingly beautiful versions of Fantine's anthem I've ever heard.
Ladies and gentlemen, Joanna Ampil.
PLUS: We see you, Joanna.