No Place Like Theatre

My closest friends would know how much time I’ve spent struggling to balance my choice of career and theatre. In my head, I had to make do with the consequences of choosing one over the other. It’s either be happy or be hungry; people working on stage would know. For all it’s worth, that was my lazy thinking then.

Leaving Manila two years ago did not also help. It meant leaving musical theatre behind, or so I thought. I knew it would be close to impossible to find performing avenues and theatre communities here in Tokyo; it’s already a concrete and small community anywhere in the world. Language aside, I knew it would not be a breeze to survive at least three hours of rehearsals every day especially now that I have a full time engineering job. I barely survived the Ateneo when I was doing shows then so why should it be different?

I started small, slowly putting myself out there. Working eight hours a day for a company doesn’t seem to fit my idea of a successful and happy life; there’s got to be a way to be alive again. I discovered Improv just before my first anniversary of living in Japan. I managed to watch a show once and luckily, they had auditions coming up; I had to give it at least a try.

It’s just short-form theatre but it’s more than enough to satisfy my desire to do something beyond what I signed up for. Every Sunday we’d practice and once a month, I get to perform something on stage with talented people that have helped me grow to who I am right now one way or the other. It is still one of the best things that have happened to me in Japan.

Fast forward to today: Show make-up is set as I’m typing this just a few minutes until we raise the stage curtains. When I saw the audition notice for this musical, I knew I had to. There is no way I am missing this out. So despite almost falling ill the day before, I randomly chose a monologue and a song, and went for it.

Two weeks before I turn two on this beautiful country, we are finally opening the musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street tonight at Shinjuku. I’m glad to have been given the opportunity to lend my heart to Anthony Hope who is as lost as I am. This is my first stage musical since “Stages of Love” in 2015 and my first in Tokyo. Believe me when I say I still can’t believe this is happening. Or at least how in the world did I manage to stay alive despite shuffling work and this for at least twelve hours a day.

Although it’s bittersweet as there are more than a handful of people back home that I’d love to see in the audience area tonight, I just can’t express well enough how grateful I am to everyone who has been with me since day one.

And of course, to the people behind Sweeney Todd and the people who have taken a chance on me, my fragile tenor notes, and my fake British accent, thank you. I hope I make you proud.