13 December 2017, Esplanade Recital Studio, Singapore
My love for watching shows is definitely inherited and nurtured by my parents. Even till today, every time my parents and I travel, one of the traditions we uphold is to find a show to go to. One of my fondest memories of a one-on-one trip with my Dad was when we went to London 20 years ago and watched 5 shows in 3 days. My Dad recently explained it’s because he didn’t know how else to keep a teenager entertained… ha!
So for this trip, I found us a concert at the Esplanade – a night of songs from the screen and stage with Sean Ghazi and Stephanie Reese. Two singers I had never heard of (ashamedly)! And wow. They were fantastic. They’ve built up quite a resume particularly as Asians on the Broadway/West End/European musical circuit. They’ve had main roles in King and I, Miss Saigon, Rent... they’ve graced the stages of several UNICEF galas and even the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016.
Their friendship was what immediately touched me. It was shown through their body language, and heartwarming tales of adventures and experiences together. They’ve seen and performed for the world, but you can feel their gratitude and sincerity, and desire to do well for the world through music. I was also very intrigued by the insight into how stereotyped the theatre/entertainment/music world still is. When performing for the UN, they are grouped under “exotic”. I guess you just got to play the game, and make changes and take steps forward where you can.
Their talent is truly admirable. The control they had of their notes, paired with their expressiveness. What shone through too was how eager they were to be on stage. You could see their passion, them not wanting to leave. Their stories were never cut short, it did not feel tired or rehearsed, they had friends in the audience that they well-wished… The stage is truly where they belong, their achievements truly merited. The repertoire were mostly classics which my parents and I really enjoyed – ‘Amigos Para Siempre’ (Barcelona Olympics), ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ (Evita), ‘Someday’ (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), ‘The Prayer’ (Quest for Camelot), ‘Sun and Moon’ (Miss Saigon), ‘How Deep is Your Love’ (Saturday Night Fever), ‘All I Ask of You’ (The Phantom of the Opera) and some newer songs from Love Never Dies.
While Stephanie Reese initially appeared a bit too OTT for my taste, you warm to her genuineness quickly. And it’s undeniable that she exudes the amount of charm and stage presence one needs to command audiences of opera theatre spaces. She has this intrigue: tiny statute, the biggest voice. Apparently she’s known as the Standing Ovation Queen. What’s also super cool is that her sister is the first female band member ever of Guns N’ Roses (and who started off as a classically trained pianist). What a talented family.
I feel so lucky to have caught this concert, totally serendipitously and without any expectations. But what a shame that the hall was only 40% full! It’s so nice to see Asians make it onto the international stage, and I hope for them they will become household names one day. Actually apparently nowadays and more so in the future, it’ll be even more advantageous to be a minority, as more and more companies seek to be diverse (or at least present the front that they are). But whatever it takes!