Fifty-four years ago, a cultural edifice rose in the reclaimed land along Roxas Boulevard. For the past five decades, the Cultural Center of the Philippines has been at the forefront of culture and the arts, working with different stakeholders for a thriving local creative industry that respects tradition, spurs innovation, increases social awareness, and enriches the Philippine brand and economy.
Even with the CCP Main Building undergoing its much-needed rehabilitation, the celebration for its 54th founding anniversary continues, with world-class artists, who in one way or another have become part of the center’s storied past and artistic milestones, returning home and performing for the nation that nurtured them.
Reaﬃrming its commitment to the growth and development of the Filipino nation through arts and culture, the CCP presents Anywhere We Sing Is Home: The CCP’s 54th Anniversary Gala, slated on September 9 at 8 p.m. and September 10 at 3 p.m., at the Samsung Performing Arts Center in Circuit Makati.
Directed by Floy Quintos, the anniversary gala concert features some of the country’s best talents, performing with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton and music direction of National Artist Ryan Cayabyab, with guest conductor Toma Cayabyab.
Joanna Ampil, a leading actress in the West End and on the international stage, topbills the cast. She has performed different lead roles such as Kim in Miss Saigon (London, original Australian production, original United Kingdom and Ireland Tour and 10th Anniversary Performance), Mary Magdalene in the West End revival of Jesus Christ Superstar (London), Éponine in Les Misérables (London and Odyssey Arena Belfast Concert), Fantine in Les Misérables (London and Windsor Concert performed for HM Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family), Grizabella in Cats (London, UK, European, Middle Eastern, Asian and 40th Anniversary Tours), Mimi in Rent (European Tour), Christmas Eve in Avenue Q (London), Sheila Franklin in Hair (London), Thanh in the world premiere of The Real Love (Los Angeles), Heidi in I Sing! (London), June in The Musical of Musicals (London), Francesca Johnson in the international premiere of The Bridges of Madison County (Manila), Inang Bayan in Rebel EDSA 30 (Manila), Maria in West Side Story (Manila), Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music (Manila), Nellie Forbush in South Pacific in Concert (Manila), Blue Fairy in Pinocchio: A New Musical (Singapore), West End Women (UK Tour), The Magic of Disney in Concert (Hyde Park, London), Defying Gravity: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz (Sydney), Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar in Concert (Tokyo), Jenna in the international premiere of Waitress (Manila) and Bloody Mary in the reimagined South Pacific (Chichester, London and UK Tour).
Sheila Francisco, the first Filipina to perform at the prestigious National Theater of London, will participate in the CCP’s anniversary concert. Francisco was hand-picked by Sir Trevor Nunn for the role of Bloody Mary in their revival of Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. Francisco was the headliner in Singapore Repertory Theater’s most successful musical production, Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress, where she played the Empress to critical acclaim in 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2017. She additionally took the stage for the same in Twist of Fate and Snow Queen, various musicals in Singapore, such as The Full Monty for Pangdemonium, Chang And Eng for Action Theater (Singapore & Thailand), and Into The Woods for Dream Academy.
Additionally, Francisco is a Gawad Award-winning theater actress who has successfully crossed over to film. She is the lead actress in the international award-winning film Leonor Will Never Die and has been acclaimed for her performance at the Sundance Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, Udine Italy Far East Film Festival, and other film festivals across the continent. She is also a FAMAS Best Actress nominee for 2023.
Aicelle Santos-Zembrano is a known recording/concert artist and TV/theater actress. She’s also been a mainstay in live musical variety shows on television since 2006 as a singer, host, and judge in talent searches. Some of Santos’ notable works were Miss Saigon UK and International Tour in 2018 to 2019, Himala in 2018, where she bagged Gawad Buhay’s Best Actress, Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag in 2017 where she won Gawad Buhay’s Best Actress in a Featured Role, Rak Of Aegis in 2014 to 2016 and dubbed Aliw Award’s Best Actress in Musical, Katy! in 2013, Ang Larawan, among others.
Gerald Santos is the Pinoy Pop Superstar Season 2 Grand Champion. He is a multi-awarded performer, a two-time Aliw Awards Entertainer of the Year 2020 and 2022, and Broadway World Philippines’ Stage Performer of the Decade in 2021 for San Pedro Calungsod The Musical. He played the role of Thuy in Miss Saigon UK and International Tour from 2017 to 2019. He reprised this role in the recently concluded Miss Saigon Denmark, where he performed the role in the Danish language and a total of 64 performances as Thuy. Just recently, he sang the US National Anthem at the Citifield Stadium in New York City, USA, witnessed by 70,000 baseball fans.
Classically-trained singer Arman Ferrer is a sought-after musical theater actor. Who received various recognitions in the Aliw, Gawad Buhay, and Awit Awards. Ferrer has performed multiple lead roles with Tanghalang Pilipino, Atlantis Theatricals, 9works Theatricals, and Repertory Philippines. His recent appearances were staged at the newly-restored Metropolitan Theater, including the titular role in Lapu Lapu, Ang Datu ng Mactan (2021), which Dexter Santos directed to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Mactan. He also joined Fr Eduardo Hontiveros’ Panunuluyan (2021) as “Jose” and Pasyong Pilipino (2022) as “Hesus,” which are both directed by Dennis Marasigan. Arman was also a featured soloist at the Met’s 90th-anniversary concert directed by Dexter Santos; and at the Independence Day concert, Bayang Pinapangarap, with Maestro Ryan Cayabyab as musical director and Floy Quintos as director.
Gab Pangilinan is a theater actress most known for her role as Young Joy in Ang Huling El Bimbo the Musical, which closed its final run last July 2023. Another well-loved role of hers would be Roxane, for another original Filipino musical hit, Mula Sa Buwan, where she not only reprised the role last 2022 but served as co-producer, as well. Pangilinan began her professional theater career in 2014 and, since then, has been working with renowned theater companies like PETA, 9Works Theatrical, Full House Theater, MusicArtes Inc., and more. She eventually earned her leading lady status in the industry when she was cast as Daisy Hilton in Atlantis Theatrical’s Side Show in 2018. She won her first international award in 2021, Best Leading Female Performance – Digital, in the 27th Asian Television Awards for her performance in Viu’s musical narrative series, Still.
Completing the line-up of notable performers to grace the stage is actor-performer Reb Atadero. He was most recently seen on stage as M in Lungs and Michael in Tick, Tick… BOOM! He is Philstage Gawad Buhay Nominee for Best Lead Actor in a Musical in 2018 for playing the role of young Hector Samala in the smash hit Ang Huling El Bimbo. He has also been nominated for an Aliw Award and Gawad Buhay for Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and a Gawad Buhay nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Play (The Graduate). A 17-year veteran of the stage, he has worked with some of the country’s premiere theater organizations, such as Full House Theatre Company, Repertory Philippines, Upstart Productions, The Sandbox Collective, 9works Theatrical, and Atlantis Theatrical. In 2014, he appeared in Lifestyle Network’s TV Series THE BOSTON: THE KITCHEN MUSICAL as Dant’a, the flamboyant head waiter. He has also directed productions for Ateneo blueREPERTORY (Some Knights and Breakups and Breakdowns) and staged readings for a theater company he co-founded, the Company of Actors in Streamlined Theatre.
Catch the CCP Anniversary Concert Gala on September 9 and 10 at Samsung Performing Arts Theater. Tickets are available at the CCP Box Office in Tanghalang Ignacio B. Gimenez (CCP Blackbox Theater) and at TicketWorld.
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