Focus on the Philippines: Rachelle Ann Go and other Filipino stage stars head for Broadway

Plus: Club Vegas Dubai to host Filipino duets competition; 4th Impact triumph at Wish 107.5 Awards; young star Xia Vigor trends worldwide with Taylor Swift impersonation.

Rachelle Ann Go heads for Broadway. Courtesy GMA
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After starring in the West End production of Miss Saigon in London, Filipino performers Rachelle Ann Go, Eva Noblezada and Jon Jon Briones moved to New York City this week to begin rehearsals for the Broadway revival of the hit musical, which will return to the stage there on March 1.

Noblezada, 20, will reprise the lead role of Kim, while Go will play Gigi Van Tranh. Briones, who plays the Engineer, is a veteran of the musical, having appeared in multiple productions of the show for almost two decades.

Created by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, Miss Saigon is based on Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly and tells the story of a romance between a Vietnamese bar girl and an American army officer in the 1970s during the Vietnam War.

Several other Filipino performers are in the show’s ensemble and supporting cast, including Billy Bustamante and Catherine Ricafort.

Up-and-coming Filipino-American actress Lianah Sta. Ana is Noblezada’s understudy for the character of Kim.

“I think it’s special for the Filipino community to see a show that not only represents them, but represents Asian culture,” Noblezada told ABS-CBN News.

“It’s a good platform for Filipinos and Filipino-Americans who want to pursue acting.”

Miss Saigon debuted in London’s West End in 1989, starring Filipino actress Lea Salonga, then 18 years old, as Kim.

The musical is scheduled to run on Broadway until January 13, next year, before setting off a North American tour.

Club Vegas Dubai to host Filipino duets competition

A singing contest for Filipino duos will be held at Holiday Inn Bur Dubai’s Club Vegas Dubai from January 20 to March 10.

Open to all Filipinos residing in the UAE, the Expat Duets contest will feature weekly musical battles. The audition round will be held at Club Vegas Dubai on January 20, from 5pm to 8pm. It will be followed by six weekly rounds of competitions, on January 27, February 3, 10, 17, 24 and March 3, beginning at 6pm each evening. It will culminate in a grand final on March 10.

Contestants attending the auditions on January 20 are required to perform a three to four-minute song. To register, email

4th Impact triumph at Wish 107.5 Awards

Filipino girl group 4th Impact bagged the Best Group or Duo trophy at the Wish 107.5 Music Awards, an annual music awards show hosted by the popular Philippine radio station Wish 107.5. The group members – sisters Almira, Irene, Mylene and Celina Cercado – shot to fame when they appeared on The X Factor UK in 2015.

“Wow, we are still in awe,” they posted on social media. “We share this great award with all our fans. Dreams really do come true! Thank you Lord – we offer this to you and we know that 2017 will be the best year ever.”

Morissette Amon was the big winner at the ceremony, taking home six awards, including Best Female Artist, Best Collaboration (for her cover of I Finally Found Someone with Journey lead singer Arnel Pineda) and Best Original Song of the Year by a Female Artist (for her track Throwback).

Amon is a 20-year-old singer who began her career on another reality-TV singing contest, The Voice of the Philippines, in 2013.

Two other former contestants were honoured: Jason Dy, who won the second season of The Voice of the Philippines, won Best Male Artist, while Darren Espanto, who finished as the runner-up on The Voice Kids Philippines, was awarded the Best Young Artist prize.

Young star’s imitation of Taylor Swift trending worldwide

A breakout performance by seven-year-old Filipino-British contestant Xia Vigor on Philippine talent show Your Face Sounds Familiar has taken social media by storm.

The contest is an impersonation show based on the Spanish and British series of the same name. Vigor performed Taylor Swift's hit track You Belong With Me, charmingly mimicking the pop singer's look, moves and expressions.

Her performance trended worldwide on Twitter and Facebook. She was also featured on the websites of various news and entertainment outlets, including Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, People, The Huffington Post and Time Magazine, in a story titled "Watch This 7-Year-Old Wow Audiences By Basically Becoming Taylor Swift".

“I’m happy because I’m being talked about in other countries,” Vigor told ABS-CBN News. “I am so excited.”