LONDON – Seventeen year old Filipina-American Eva Noblezada is yet to officially graduate from Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina.
But she has already made her professional debut in West End for the revival of the musical hit Miss Saigon, which is set for its premiere show on Wednesday night.
"I'm very nervous, but I think if I think about being nervous I'll be more nervous so I'm just trying to remember to keep myself grounded, and breathe and do what I'm here for," Noblezada said.
Noblezada plays "Kim", a role she has always aspired for.
"I wanted this role very badly. When I started auditions I really took over and wanted to be as prepared as possible but I wanted it with every fiber of my being," she said.
She was fortunate to be coached and guided in the audition by her aunt, Annette Calud, who was an understudy for Kim in the Broadway production of Miss Saigon.
The half-Filipina, half-Latina stage actress credits her Filipino roots for cultivating her talent in singing and the performing arts.
"My dad went to college to be a music teacher actually, and he would always hear me singing and my Filipino grandparents would always put me on the table and say, 'Sing, sing, sing for everybody'. So with that they really did push me to do what my heart wanted me to do and that was perform and sing. So, when I was a little girl, and I grew up in my grandparent's house, any chance that they had have me sing they would push me and do it. So I think that's one of the main reasons I'm here today, really," said Noblezada.
Like Noblezada, singer Rachelle Ann go is also making her debut performance in West End, playing the role of 'Gigi,' a hardened bar girl.
"Ang daming natutunan, and the cast, they're all amazing. The staff, the Saigon family, ang sarap ng feeling. They're very supportive of me and, yun nga, first time kong gawin a musical outside of the Philippines, so ibang klase, iba yung feeling," she said.
With the warm reception of the fans and the raves she is getting for her performance during the preview shows, the pop star is grateful for following her heart and for the words of encouragement she received from the original Kim.
"You know, Miss Saigon is such a huge production, so, natakot ako. I was so scared to take this path. So Miss Lea Salonga, she actually messaged me - I didn't ask her. She messaged me and said, 'Hey, Rachelle, you should audition for it'," she said.
The opening night of the much-awaited musical revival is expected to draw theatre pundits and celebrities in the Prince Edward Theatre, West End.