Ma-Anne Dionisio reprises role in Miss Saigon (Toronto)

Community News & Features Apr 30, 2010 at 12:33 pm

By Maria Athena Gabriel
The Philippine Reporter

Ma-Anne Dionisio in Miss Saigon performance, Pittsburgh CLO. Photo by Matt Polk 2003

Ma-Anne Dionisio in Miss Saigon performance, Pittsburgh CLO. Photo by Matt Polk 2003

TORONTO – MA-ANNE DIONISIO, a Manila-born Filipino Canadian, is again to play Kim in a Toronto production of Boublil and Schonberg’s Miss Saigon, the role that launched her career in 1993. She and Kevin Gray – who played the role of the Engineer – will both be back in Toronto this summer reprising the same roles they played in the original production.

The Dancap Productions Inc. 2010 presentation of Miss Saigon, directed by Barry Ivan, will be held at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, July 9-August 1.

Ma-Anne Dionisio with producer Aubrey Dan

Ma-Anne Dionisio with producer Aubrey Dan

Dionisio, who was raised in Winnipeg, was only in her teens when she first starred in the Mirvish Productions’ Miss Saigon at Toronto’s The Princess of Wales Theatre 17 years ago. She went on to play the role of Kim in international productions of Miss Saigon at Theatre Royal Drury Lane (London, U.K.); Capitol Theatre (Sydney); and more recently in 2003, the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera production.

Dionisio has also starred in other major musicals in the Canada as well as international theatres. She played The Princess in Aladdin (Dayton Entertainment/Trudy Moffat); Sandy in Grease (the Elgin Theatre/Dennis Bouchard), and Maria in West Side Story (Stratford Festival/Kelly Robinson), among others.

She reprised the role of Eponine in various productions of Les Miserables in various cities abroad: at the Nico Milan Theatre in Capetown; the Kallang Theatre in Singapore; the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre; and also with the International Touring Company in London.

A musical actor whose who seems unfazed with the gruelling demands and hectic schedules of professional theatre, Dionisio once played two lead roles simultaneously in two major productions in London’s West End: Kim in Miss Saigon at Theatre Royal Drury Lane; and Bertrande in Martin Guerre at Prince Edward Theatre, a feat which has amazed even veterans in theatre circles. Carrie Sager of Flip Publicity, who acts as the publicist for this Toronto production, was just amazed to learn about this theatre trivia.

Ma-Anne Dionisio with director Barry Ivan in Toronto.

Ma-Anne Dionisio with director Barry Ivan in Toronto.

Aside from starring big musical productions, Ma-Anne has done television and film musical stints such as roles in Discovery Drama Theatre (ABS-CBN, Channel 2 Philippines); and an appearance in Peter Joback TV Special in Stockholm Sweden.

She has also performed in concerts in Winnipeg and Toronto. She has also top-billed in concerts for charitable causes on a purely voluntary basis, such as in Rebuilding People’s Lives 2009, a community fundraiser for typhoon victims in the Philippines held in December last year.

In an phone interview with The Philippine Reporter, Dionisio graciously shares her thoughts about her career, her coming back to Toronto as Kim in Miss Saigon, her family, and about giving back to the community.

TPR: Since playing Kim in the early 90s how would you describe your career?
Dionisio: I consider myself extremely blessed having been able to work in various productions in many different countries, especially being able to play the roles where Asian actors are not traditionally cast — like Sandy in Grease, Maria in West Side Story, and Bertrande in Martin Guerre.

TPR: What would you consider the highlight in you carreer?

Dionisio: I’m not sure if this is a highlight, but when I was in London, I was playing the lead role in two plays at the same time: Kim in Miss Saigon; and Bertrande in Martin Guerre. I’m not sure if anyone has ever done that before… there was one time when I was getting ready for Miss Saigon, when I got a call saying “we need you at the other theatre (for Martin Guerre), there’s a car waiting” and it was only 15 minutes notice before the show.

TPR: What happened, did you manage to do it?

Dionisio: Yes

Dionisio and one of the children auditioning for the role of Tam held recently in Toronto.    PHOTO: PHILIPPINE REPORTER

Dionisio and one of the children auditioning for the role of Tam held recently in Toronto. 3 PHOTOS: PHILIPPINE REPORTER

TPR: What do you feel about reprising Kim in Toronto?

Dionisio:
I’m afraid, I’m scared, there’s just something about performing in your own hometown.

However, I am grateful that I have been given again this amazing opportunity to play a role that is very dear to me.

TPR: With three kids and a busy successful career in musical theatre, how do you balance your life so well?

Dionisio: (Laughs) I don’t know. I’m extremely grateful. Extremely feeling very blessed, and looking forward to the opportunity given to me, and hopefully being able to give something back by what it is that I do.

TPR: Seventeen years after your acclaimed performance as Kim in Toronto, you’ve made it as a sought- after lead performer in musical theatre here and abroad, and yet you are able to look after three young kids, and give back to community through volunteer performances for charitable causes. What is your secret to staying fit, youthful, and seemingly happy in doing all these different tasks?

Dionisio: I don’t have a secret. I just feel blessed. (As for my kids) I said they are the highlights of my life. Nothing can top that.

TPR: Do you have a message for our readers?

Dionisio: It’s always a thank you for always being supportive for whatever we do — whether it is a big concert, or a charity event. (As for the forthcoming show of Miss Saigon) Come and see it if you can. It is only a very very short run. I never would have thought that I would do it again. When I got the call that I would do it again, I was very happy.

TPR: What are your plans?

Dionisio: I always get asked that question and I always say I don’t know. I do want to stay happy, live long enough to see my children grow up.

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Two kids selected for role of Tam

Six kids who auditioned for the role of Tam in the “call back” held at Distillery District in Toronto.  From left: Chloe, Tia, Keavin, Caylinne, Alessandra and James.

Six kids who auditioned for the role of Tam in the “call back” held at Distillery District in Toronto. From left: Chloe, Tia, Keavin, Caylinne, Alessandra and James.

In a related development Dancap Productions informed The Philippine Reporter that they have already chosen the two children who will alternately play the role of Tam, Kim’s’ son in Miss Saigon.

Chosen to play Tam were Alessandra Crisante-Crespo, 6 years old, and Chloe Stanford, also 6, Sager told The Philippine Reporter.

Out of 35 children aged 6-10 who had responded to the casting call for the role of Tam, six were called back to audition the second time before the selecting panel led by the director, Barry Ivan, with the attendance of Ma-Anne Dionisio.

The auditions were held Saturday, April 24, at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Martha Burns Studio at the Distillery District.