FILIPINA STAR BACK IN SYDNEY JOINING AN INTERNATIONAL STELLAR CAST by Evelyn Zaragoza with Eric C. MaliwatWednesday, 10 February 2016 14:31 Written by Evelyn Zaragoza
MUSICAL ARTIST FROM THE PHILIPPINES JOANNA AMPIL IS THE LONE ASIAN JOINING AN INTERNATIONAL MUSIC THEATRE STELLAR CAST IN “DEFYING GRAVITY-THE SONGS OF STEPHEN SCHWARTZ FROM GODSPELL TO WICKED”
Filipina musical theatre star Joanna Ampil seemed to be enjoying the Australian summer heat having a snapshot somewhere along the Sydney CBD’s George Street with co-stars Helen Dallimore and David Harris as she shared on her Instagram
“I feel like a proper #Aussie in between the beautiful and fit @dillidalli and @davidharrisoz”
Yes, the awarded musical theatre actress from the Philippines is back here down under as the lone Asian performer joining a stellar cast of internationally acclaimed musical theatre actors for the world premiere of Edna Markey’s Defying Gravity, a concert celebrating the work of acclaimed composer Stephen Schwartz. Previously, Joanna Ampil played the role of Kim in the Australian premiere in Sydney of Miss Saigon upon the invitation of Sir Cameron Mackintosh and in 2011 she performed the main role as Thanh in the showcase performance of the musical The Real Love. She has played various roles in major West End musicals including Les Miserables in London (where she played the role of Fantine until 21 June 2008), Avenue Q, Jesus Christ Superstar and Miss Saigon.
Joanna chats with PCHN publisher Evelyn Zaragoza on her musical theatre journey and performing with broadway’s celebrated artists in Defying Gravity:
When did you start your career in musical theatre?
It all started when I got the part of Kim in Miss Saigon when i was 17 years old. I flew to London with my mum as my guardian since I was considered a minor then. It was one of those cliches things of being in the right place at the right time.
What is the most challenging experience you have in your career, performing with Filipino and overseas artists?
Performing with fellow Filipinos has its pressures too. Every Filipino can sing really well. I always have to make sure my singing is on top form. Plus, Filipinos are very critical in the most positive sense of the word. They know a good voice and good sound when they hear it. You need to grab the attention when you have the opportunity.
There's also immense pressure working abroad because I feel that I have to prove myself why I am worthy of being on a international stage. The more I do things, the more nervous I get and that's probably because I know that the expectations will also be greater.
What are you most looking forward to about “Defying Gravity”.
I am very much looking forward to performing with the amazing artists who are also part of the show. To experience how they work, since they are the celebrated artists of Broadway.
What advice can you give to aspiring artists who want to be part of the international stage?
To keep persevering and never giving up. And to NEVER take anything personally. Try to see each experience, may it be good or bad, as part of the training and always be kind and gracious in the process.
Catch Joanna Ampil onstage with an international musical theatre stellar cast in Defying Gravity, 12-13 February, Theater Royal, Sydney.
"I'm always looking for an excuse to get back to Australia,
I can't think of a better one than this amazing concert with a cast that seems too-good-to-be-true." Stephen Schwartz
Such was the excitement surrounding the announcement last week that Broadway stars Sutton Foster and Aaron Tveit would make their Australian debut in DEFYING GRAVITY – a concert celebrating the work of composer Stephen Schwartz – that a third and final show has already been announced.
Enda Markey, producer of the sold-out, Helpmann nominated production of Blood Brothers and the international tour of Boublil & Schonberg’s Do You Hear The People Sing? is thrilled to announce the world premiere of DEFYING GRAVITY a concert celebrating the work of acclaimed composer Stephen Schwartz.
This exclusive event is set to be one of the most exciting musical theatre events of 2016 and includes a stellar cast of the brightest musical theatre stars in the world. It will play at Sydney’s Theatre Royal for three performances only on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 February 2016.
DEFYING GRAVITY The Songs of Stephen Schwartz will be headlined by two- time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster (Anything Goes, Thoroughly Modern Millie) and Aaron Tveit (Les Misérables movie, Next To Normal, Catch Me If You Can). Also appearing will be internationally renowned West End star Joanna Ampil (Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, Cats), Helpmann Award winner Helen Dallimore (Blood Brothers, Legally Blonde) and David Harris (Miss Saigon, Legally Blonde). Making a very special guest appearance is Tony Award winning Broadway, TV and film icon Betty Buckley (Cats, Pippin, Sunset Boulevard, Carrie). Ms Foster, Mr Tveit and Ms Buckley are all appearing in Sydney for the very first time.
Stephen Schwartz, who will be in attendance at the concerts, has won three Academy Awards, four Grammys and four Drama Desk Awards for his work on Broadway hits including Godspell, Pippin and Wicked as well as the Disney movies Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Enchanted.
Also taking place on Saturday 13 February at 12 noon will be an exclusive event: “Stephen Schwartz in Conversation with Leigh Sales” on stage at Theatre Royal. Leigh Sales will interview Stephen Schwartz about his career in what promises to be an intriguing insight into one of the most compelling personalities on Broadway. www.defyinggravitytheconcert.com
Twitter/Instagram: @DGconcert Facebook @DGtheconcert
VENUE: Theatre Royal, 108 King Street, MLC Centre
DATE: Friday 12 and Saturday 13 February
TIMES: 8pm (3pm matinee on Saturday - 12noon in Conversation) TICKETS: Premium: $149.50, A-Reserve: $109.50 B-Reserve: $99.50. Groups 10+ $99.50 (A-reserve)
Stephen Schwartz in conversation with Leigh Sales – all seats $69 (Groups 10+ $55)
BOOKING: Ticketmaster.com.au or phone 136 100
The full event program for Fairfield City Council’s Lunar New Year event in Cabramatta has been released with acts and entertainment to thrill the thousands of visitors keen to experience this authentic celebration. This must see event will be held on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 February at Freedom Plaza, Cabramatta.
Welcome in the Year of the Monkey with Curious George, the world’s favourite monkey, the Feathered Friends free flight bird show and interactive rainforest display, opportunities to meet the God of Fortune, Lion Dances and traditional music and dance.
The full program is available on the Fairfield City Council website www.fairfieldcity.nsw.gov.au/lunar-new-year.
- Performances by Dauntless Movement Crew, stunt enthusiasts
- Feathered Friends free flight bird show
- Curious George Adventure Show and meet and greet
- Performances by hip hop dance crew The Pioneers
- Food competitions including one handed prawn peeling and children’s chopstick challenge hosted by Cabramatta Bowls
- Shaolin Kung Fu Meditation temple contortionists
- Fashion Parades
- Traditional music and Dance
- Meet the God of Fortune
- Gold wishing tree
- Authentic food and dining options
Fairfield City Council is also proud to be involved in the Lunar New Year celebrations in Canley Heights this Saturday 6 February from 4pm – 10pm. The event will feature international musicians, an eating competition, traditional music and lion dance. Later in the evening, families can watch the dragon dance, a performance held especially for New Year, followed by a spectacular fireworks display at 8.45pm
Cabramatta, Canley Vale and Canley Heights are the South East Asian heart of Sydney and visitors can indulge in an authentic dining experience year round. There are hundreds of restaurants as well as grocers and specialty stores waiting to be discovered.
Communications Officer | Communications and Marketing
Well known, Filipino quiet achiever Manny Asuncion has finished his year on a high. Manny has worked quietly but productively behind the scenes for 28 years to the benefit of the Victorian Filipino–Australian community. On Thursday 3 December, at Government House, Melbourne, in the presence of Her Excellency the Governor of Victoria, the Victorian Government, through the Multicultural Commission recognised his contribution to Victoria’s multi-culturalism by presenting him with an award for meritorious service to the Community. Manny’s award was “for his support of Filipino-Australian migrant communities and wider multicultural Australia through sharing his talents in arts, drama and language”.
Altogether 36 individuals and 4 organisations were recognised for meritorious awards.
Manny migrated to Australia on 27 June, 1984 with qualifications in Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, and Bachelor of Arts, Speech and Drama. He pursued higher education in Australia obtaining Master of Applied Linguistics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 1999; Graduate Certificate in Literacy, Victoria University, Footscray, Victoria, 2001; and PhD Education (Academics completed), Victoria University, Footscray, 2004. In addition, Manny obtained special qualification in Translator Level 3, National Accreditation for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI), English-Filipino (Both ways), 1996 and Certificate, Teaching English as a Second Language, University of Melbourne.
In 1987 Manny became one of the founders of Dulaang Bayan Melbourne Inc (DBMI) a Filipino Development Theatre, based in Melbourne. The initial performance of DBMI was Kayumangging Ibon (written and directed by Manny) which was presented at the Philippine Fiesta of Victoria in Footscray Park.
For almost 25 years, Manny has been writing and directing skits, monologues and plays for DBMI as well as initiating and conducting workshops for its members. Among his works are Kuwento ni Auring (1987), Kayumangging Ibon (1989), Autumn Sonata (2000), Kesehoda (2001), Mga Eksena sa Airport (2004), Summer Butterflies (2006), Ikalawang Tag-Sibol ni Mang Florante (2009) and Miting Sa Makiling (2011). Manny also wrote the lyrics for these plays.
Manny was one of the founders of the Philippine Times, a Filipino-Australian community newspaper. He was one of its former editor-in-chief. He wrote lots of articles (news, essays, film critiques feature stories, Filipino legends and short stories using different pseudonyms) and had a regular column, Pilantik ng Diwa that touched on the Filipino humour and psyche.
Contributions to other newspapers include Columnist/writer: Bayanihan (Sydney), Philippine Community Herald (Sydney), Munting Nayon Newspaper Magazine (Netherlands), Daily Mirror (New York, USA).
Manny was one of the early broadcasters of Radyo Filipino 3ZZZ 92.3 FM in its early days.
He is a Filipino language teacher. He taught Filipino at the Victorian School of Languages, Princess Hill Language School, Philippine Language School of Victoria and was the chief lecturer of the Filipino language Department at the Australian Defence Force Language School (Laverton) and the ADF Special Task Force Language School, Perth, Western Australia.
A licensed Filipino translator and interpreter, Manny was a one-time chief examiner for the Filipino language group of the National Accreditation Authority for Translator and Interpreters (NAATI), a position he held for almost 10 years.
A deeply committed member of the Filipino-Australian Community in Melbourne, Manny was the vice president of the Filipino Community Council of Victoria for 4 years and is currently the PRO of the Philippine Fiesta of Victoria. He was also the vice-president of Filipino Artists of Melbourne (FAME) and one time president of Filipino Toastmaster Club of Melbourne.
In 2014, Manny Asuncion published a book, entitled Seasons, An Anthology of Filipino Plays Down Under, 2014 (A collection of plays written in English and Filipino).
Manny Asuncion’s devotion, passion, commitment and effectiveness in promoting culture and heritage, and supporting multiculturalism and promoting community relations through language, arts and drama has been recognised by the peak Filipino associations in recent years.
He has received many awards for his community work, and in 2015 his work was recognised at the national and international levels.
He received the: Filipino Australian Achiever Award from The Filipino Communities Council of Australia (FILCCA), 2014.
Eminent Alumni Award, Philippine Normal University, 2015 and the International Jubilarian Leadership Award, Philippine Normal University, 2015.
Manny Asuncion is quiet about his achievements personally, but people who know him, respect him and support him, believe he was a most worthy candidate for the latest award.
In her message to recipients of these awards, the Governor of Victoria, the Hon. Linda Dessau AM, wrote that “The Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence recognise and celebrate the extraordinary contribution of a diverse array of Victorians to our vibrant and inclusive society.” The Governor stated that in Victoria we “Collectively speak over 260 different languages and practise around 135 different faiths. We embrace different cultures from across the globe, and value the distinct contribution each culture makes to our broader community.”
In his message, the Premier of Victoria, The Hon. Daniel Andrews MP wrote that, “Since 2002, these annual Awards have recognised many remarkable achievements to support diversity, inclusion and cohesion in our community. We are very fortunate to have so many committed people and organisations working hard to maintain Victoria’s reputation as a world leader in multicultural affairs.”
“The 2015 Award recipients have made significant contributions to support Victoria’s diverse communities to fully participate in society, and to maintain and celebrate their different cultures, languages and faiths”, he wrote.
In a message The Hon. Robin Scott MP, Minister for Multicultural Affairs stated that “Victoria’s Multicultural Awards for Excellence are an important way for the Victorian Government and the Victorian Multicultural Commission to publically acknowledge Victorians who embrace our diversity…these awards pay tribute to those individuals, communities and organisations who contribute to our successful multicultural and inclusive society.”
Helen Kapalos, Chairperson, Victorian Multicultural Commission, wrote that “with recipients representing 22 different cultures, these awards highlight the depth and breadth of initiatives and programs that support and reinforce our strength as a multicultural community.”
She thanked the nominators for taking the time to put forward so many deserving nominees.
Following the presentations, the recipients and their guests were invited to partake of cocktails, and to view several rooms in Government House, including the State Dining Room and the State entrance and the billiard room.
From today, students will have access to $25 million worth of scholarships for those undertaking vocational training in technology-based growth industries,
Minister for Skills John Barilaro has welcomed the initiative that offers 25,000 scholarships to students around NSW during his visit to Port Macquarie TAFE today.
The scholarships are part of the Jobs for Tomorrow program that encourages more vocational education and training (VET) students to enrol in and complete courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, (STEM).
“The NSW economy is growing rapidly and we are focused on educating a highly skilled workforce for the jobs of tomorrow,” Mr Barilaro said.
“We are delivering on our pre-election commitment to create 150,000 jobs in NSW by making it easier for students to get the skills employers want.”
Students training in science, technology, engineering or maths-related courses through Smart and Skilled are eligible for a $1,000 “Jobs of Tomorrow” scholarship.
As part of the program, new industry partnerships will help connect STEM students to relevant work and networking opportunities during their training, while helping people already working in these fields enrol for additional STEM studies.
“The addition of this industry partnership program means employers will be able to support students during training – through networking, mentoring and professional development opportunities and work experience,” Mr Barilaro said.
Almost 70 qualifications at Certificate IV and above are eligible for the scholarships, while current industry partners include the NSW Business Chamber, the Association of Consulting Surveyors, the Australian Computer Society Foundation and the Australian Industry Group.
MEDIA: John Morrison | 0439 281 482
An invitation to all the members of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Australia NSW Chapter and all graduates of UP.
Walk Together marches ran across the country today in celebration of National Day of Unity.
The day was launched on October 13 by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, along with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Leader of the Greens Richard Di Natale.
State director of Welcome to Australia James Jegasothy said the event showed the diversity and the true spirit of Australians.
"There was a lot of passion and welcome out there in the community," he said.
"It proved to me that people just needed an opportunity to express it."
Mr Jegasothy is a refugee himself, who fled Sri Lanka with his parents and brother when he was a child.
"We were lucky enough to be really welcomed in Australia," he said.
"We came at a time when Australia had compassionate policies.
"I want people who come these days to feel the same welcome I felt."
Mr Jegasothy said it was good to see the Government agreeing to take in 12,000 refugees fleeing the Syrian crisis, but said he believed Australia had the capacity to welcome many more.
Walks happened in 25 other cities and towns in the country.
(excerpt from ABC News)