‘Phantom’ Premieres Tonight At CCP

Andrew Lloyd Webber's masterpiece "The Phantom of the Opera," acclaimed as the world's most successful and long-running musical (it is now on its 26th year at London's West End) officially opens its Manila run tonight (Aug. 25).

Surely, the Philippine audience will be able to enjoy outstanding performances from some of the leading actors in the international theater industry led by Jonathan Roxmouth, who plays "The Phantom," and Claire Lyon as Christine.

So overwhelming is the excitement of Filipinos over the musical that its Manila run has been extended till Sept. 30. In announcing the season extension, producer James Cundall, CEO of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, said, "It is an enormous privilege to bring 'The Phantom of the Opera' to the Philippines for its premiere, I have always believed that audiences here will embrace this unforgettable show and love it as much as I do, so I am delighted to see such a strong demand for tickets, and to be able to offer 16 more performances."

The Asian Hospital Charities Inc. will open the Manila Season of the musical as part of their fundraising program to help support the medical needs of the underprivileged.

Presented in Manila by Smart Infinity and Citibank in cooperation with Philippine Airlines as the official carrier, "The Phantom of the Opera" tells the story of a disfigured musical genius known only as "The Phantom" who haunts the depths of the Paris Opera House. Mesmerized by the talents and beauty of a young soprano - Christine - the Phantom lures her as his protégé and falls fiercely in love with her. Unaware of her love for Raoul, The Phantom's obsession sets the scene for "a dramatic turn of events where jealousy, madness and passion collide."

A Dream Role

In an interview at Teatro Montecasino in Johannesburg where we recently went to watch "The Phantom of the Opera," Jonathan told us how excited he was to have been given the role of The Phantom after auditioning for it.

He said, "The musical is a power brand of 25 years and absolutely it's a dream role - I could die tomorrow because I have played my dream role, a role that is a gift to any actor."

Also an accomplished concert pianist, Jonathan is a South African-born actor who has received numerous awards and citations. For his outstanding performance as The Phantom in the show's South African season, he was awarded "Best Performance by a Leading Actor in A Musical" by the 2012 Fleur Du Cap Awards. He also won the Fleur Du Cap, as well as the highly respected Naledi Award for "Best Performance in a Musical" for the lead role of Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast."

Claire Llyon, on the other hand, is classically trained at the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne Australia where she graduated with a Bachelor of Music Performance. She has performed the role of Christine several times in the Australian production of "Love Never Dies," the sequel to "The Phantom of the Opera."

Also in the cast of "The Phantom of the Opera" are Anthony Downing, Jason Ralph, Andrea Creighton, Rebecca Spencer, and our very own Dondi Ong who plays Piangi.

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'One True Love' Extended

Because of the high ratings it has maintained since it premiered last June 11, GMA's "One True Love" has been extended for five weeks.

Originally set to run for 10 weeks only, the primetime soap will now be aired till September with more twists to be revealed in the succeeding episodes. The show, directed by Andoy Ranay, stars Alden Richards and Louise de los Reyes.

Based on household data in National Urban Philippines covering the period July 30 to Aug. 8 (based on overnight data), the program registered 36.1 household audience share points versus ABS-CBN's "Kahit Puso'y Masugatan's" 27.4 household audience share points.

In viewer-rich Mega Manila which comprises 59.5 percent of national urban TV households, "One True Love" edged out competition with 40.2 share points against its competitor's 23.4 points. The series was likewise included in the list of Top 30 programs in Urban Luzon and Mega Manila according to July data of Nielsen TV Audience Measurement.

"One True Love" also features Jean Garcia, Raymond Bagatsing and Agot Isidro together with Caridad Sanchez, Tia Pusit, Benjie Paras, Winwyn Marquez, Lucho Ayala, Rita Iringan, Frencheska Farr and Bembol Roco. The show airs weeknights after "Makapiling Kang Muli" on GMA Telebabad.

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Tidbits: Happy b-day greetings today, Aug. 25, go to former Senator Eddie Ilarde, Encar Benedicto, Director Willie Milan, Elizabeth Mancao, Liza Gokongwei, Lady Salterio, Leah A. Gordoncillo, Peter Burgos of New York, USA; Joseph Zeidin, Robbie Velasco, Raymund Miranda, Mikko Regala Katigbak, John Angelo and Rudy B. Lumogdang... Walker Underwear is having a major promo for the whole month of August by giving away items for every three products you buy on a single purchase. This is available only at all SM Department Store, Hypermarket and Robinsons Department Store nationwide...