THE FILIPINO PRINCE FROM JERSEY CITY
Across the river
from Jersey City, NJ, Ms Saigon was making a hit in
Broadway. Lea Salonga displayed her talent, showing young Fil-Am
kids that success in the show business could be achieved.
But in Jersey
City, St PETERS High School is always trying out these kids.
My two duaghters were no different. All you hear about are about
Forensics and school's play. Their dedication to nightly rehearsal was
almost religious. We lived just across the street from the school and
after the nightly rehearsals, some of the cast would dropped by and
continue to talk about their show or beat some tune on our small piano.
The piano badly needed tuning but it could not hide their singing talents.
I could hear the promising voices, but I wondered if there really were
future roles for them. I watched show after show and at times consolingly
thought to myself that it was just something the kids did to hone their
skills for another more secure profession. St Peter Prep was the area's
showcase and at times I thought that they were selecting plays where
Filipinos and Asian could show their talents. I kept thinking that even
with the golden voice, these kids will be always limited in future roles.
Just how many
revivals of Asian roles in "The King and I" or "Madame
Butterfly" will give these talented kids a chance if they elect to pursue
this hard profession?
Last night, ABC's Disney movie, CINDERELLA proved me wrong. Paolo
Montalban started like the typical son of a Filipino immigrant as a choir
boy in St Aedan Church. He then went on to high school at St Peters Prep.
His natural talent landed him a lead role in his freshman year. Jack Casey,
play director, and Robert Sayer, the music director, helped him develop his
talent as he went through high school. He went to Rutger's University on
a scholarship and finished in 1993. He was determined to make a living
in the show business, a non-traditional profession for the Pinoy who
usually reserves himself for medicine or economics. Fortunately, Paolo was
able to make his Broadway debut in "King and I," but would there another
of Cinderella was as non-traditional as a Filipino in the
show business. Cinderella was played by an African-American girl and the
prince was played by a Filipino from Jersey City. The 12 million musical
show included Whitney Houston, Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters, and
Jason Alexander. Yes, 60 milllion viewers watched it last night and I was happily wrong.
The dashing prince was being played by someone who looks like me and he is from Jersey City.
Paolo said, according
the the Jersey City Journal, "I think it's
fantastic. It's everyone's story, every little girl should be
Cinderella, every little boy can be Prince." Jersey City is indeed
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