Almost six years after she participated in the Manila auditions for the West End revival of “Miss Saigon,” Aicelle Santos is finally joining the cast of the acclaimed musical.
The 33-year old singer-actress, who is currently wowing audiences with her acclaimed portrayal of the iconic role of faith healer Elsa in the ongoing run of “Himala: Isang Musikal,” will be playing Gigi Van Tranh, the pivotal supporting character originally played by Isay Alvarez, and most recently, by Rachelle Ann Go in the West End and Broadway revivals.
A report by WhatsOnStage.com revealed that Aicelle is not the only Filipino cast member in the touring production which also included Red Concepcion as The Engineer, Gerald Santos as Thuy and Joaquin Pedro Valdes in an unspecified role.
The tour of “Miss Saigon” that will include Aicelle has stops in Manchester, Bristol, Plymouth, Norwich, Bradford, Sunderland and Zurich.
Back in 2012, Aicelle took part in the Manila auditions and was reportedly one of the few who made it to the final day but was not cast. In that batch, Rachelle Ann Go and Tanya Manalang was eventually cast. Aicelle’s audition, nonetheless, made quite an impression with “Miss Saigon” producers. Last December, she finally got her long-awaited “callback” for the show.
Known primarily as a singer, Aicelle first rose to prominence in 2005 for her eight-week winning streak during the second season of the talent search series, “Pinoy Pop Superstar” for GMA Network. She eventually became a mainstay of the network’s Sunday noontime shows, “Sunday All Stars,” “Party Pilipinas” and “SOP.”
Since 2013, Aicelle has also been honing her acting chops on television and as of late, has been making her mark as antagonist in teleseryes like “Buena Familia” and “Impostora.”
After appearing in the short film, “Waivers” in 2016, Aicelle finally made her feature film debut with a memorable cameo in “Ang Larawan,” a critical and eventually, commercial hit in the recent Metro Manila Film Festival.
One year after auditioning for “Miss Saigon,” Aicelle made her theater debut in 2013 portraying a younger version of vaudeville legend Katy dela Cruz in “Katy! The Musical.” The following year, she landed the lead role of Aileen in the PETA musical, “Rak of Aegis” which eventually led to her first Aliw Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Last year, she was cast in the musical adaptation of the film, “Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag” where she again won an Aliw Award for Best Actress for a Featured Role.
She considers her latest theater project, “Himala: Isang Musikal” as her most challenging role to date as she takes on a character first played on the big screen by and most identified with Superstar Nora Aunor.
Admitting that she was excited but at the same time scared to take on what she called “the hardest role” she will ever play in her lifetime, Aicelle says her take on Elsa was a lot different from the movie.
“She’s not divine, she’s human,” she quipped.
Compared to the film, the musical lets the audience be more privy to Elsa’s thoughts and emotions, while leaving some mysteries unanswered. Given that she’s used to singing pop songs, Aicelle also admits that it was not easy rising to the challenge of interpreting the complex, experimental libretto by Vince De Jesus which also included her six-minute, three-part solo aria in one of the musical’s most dramatic scenes.
“Himala: Isang Musikal” is now on its final weekend and will run until Sunday, March 4 at the Power Mac Spotlight Center at Circuit, Makati. For ticket information, visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.