After successfully starring as Maria in "West Side Story" in Manila and playing Christmas Eve in "Avenue Q" in London, West End's major star Joanna Ampil comes back to the Philippines to stage her first major solo Valentine concert dubbed "Joanna Ampil: I Love...," on February 13-14, 8 p.m., at the Music Museum.
The show highlights the love songs of Joanna's impressive musical theater career, from "Miss Saigon," her very first musical in London, to her most recent projects. These songs will also serve as musical parallels to the milestones of Joanna's life and career, not to mention the iconic roles she's performed through the years--Kim, Mary Magdalene, Eponine, Fantine, Mimi and Maria, among others.
Joanna's Valentine concert promises to be an intimate evening with her audience. "I want it to be personal," she says. "The repertoire will mainly be songs that have influenced and inspired me to do what I'm doing now, and from shows that I've done in the past but will be performed in a way that will tell my story and define me as a person on and off stage."
While most of Joanna's character portrayals tell stories of sacrificial love, her most recent role as Christmas Eve has shown theater audiences her lighter side. "The character is outrageously wacky that I almost feel like I'm doing too much. In one of the scenes, I get to wear the most exciting costume I've worn in my history of musical theater, which makes me look like a Christmas tree, complete with flashing lights and the most vibrant colors. Just walking on stage with it makes people laugh without me uttering a word. I love it!"
On the other hand, the experience that Joanna had with "West Side Story" is something she will never forget. "It made me realize how much I love to perform in the Philippines," she says.
Even if Joanna has lived in Europe for almost half of her life, she's still a Filipino at heart. For her, Filipinos are naturally romantic and the most loving people. "We tend to do things with so much passion. Even if, at times, we are less technical, we do things according to what we feel in our hearts."
"It would be nice to spend Valentine's Day not just with one person," adds Joanna, "but an audience who would be genuinely interested in getting to know me and the work I have done."
Joining Joanna in her Valentine concert as a special guest is award-winning musical theater actor Franco Laurel. "Joanna Ampil: I Love..." is directed by Carlo Orosa.
Tickets are available at Music Museum (7216726) and all Ticketworld outlets (8919999). Or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph. Ticket prices: P4,400, P3,300, P2,200 and P1,100.