ESSEX - A group of seasoned Filipino stage performers captured the hearts of the British community in southeast England as they led a concert in honor of Queen Elizabeth II.
Filipino trio West End Mamas, composed of stage actresses Gia Macuja Atchison, Maya Duffy and Cez Bonner, headlined the Diamond Jubilee concert of South Woodham Ferrers in Essex, one of the official events taking place around the UK.
With music on offer and good weather to match, the event attracted hundreds of people from the local British community, who packed the Village Hall park with picnics, drinks, barbecues, party costumes, and plenty of Union Jacks.
Speaking to ABS-CBN Europe backstage, Atchison said: “It’s an honor for three Filipinas to do a Jubilee concert for a very British crowd. I think there were only three Filipinos in this particular audience, so it’s really exciting and we’re honored to do it”
Performing before a predominantly British crowd, the group delivered their rendition of chart hits and classic tunes, from Adele’s modern classic “Rumor Has It” to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”, and even a medley of hits from iconic British band, Queen.
“It’s very patriotic. We would have done exactly the same thing if we had kings and queens in the Philippines. It’s great, because their support for us is amazing, so we’re giving back to the British community,” Bonner explained.
Coming from a West End background, the stage trio also did what they do best: musical theatre, belting songs from popular shows including “Dreamgirls”, “Hairspray”, “Chicago”, and “The Lion King”, as well as from their big break “Miss Saigon”.
“The British are very accommodating. They take you as you are. They’re very in awe of what we do, so it’s quite overwhelming and heartwarming to know that they’ll just take you as you are,” said Duffy.
With their rousing performances and charming stage presence, West End Mamas are slowly gaining a strong following beyond the Filipino community, including some British locals from the group’s residential community in Essex.
“They’re a good act. They sing songs that are known to everyone, and they give a good atmosphere,” said Michael Fieldhouse, one of the locals at the concert.
“They are vey professional, and just outstanding. Absolutely brilliant! I just love them,” added Amanda Rogers, who have seen West End Mamas on a number of occasions.
Nigel Hallett, another local, also said: “I think they’re fantastic. I saw a little snippet of it in one of my daughters’ dancing rehearsals, and the voices are just amazing.”
Hosted by the local town council, the event marks the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, one of only two monarchs to do so in history.
“It’s a momentous occasion for our country. It’s only the second Diamond Jubilee in our country’s history. The first one was Queen Victoria in 1897. So there’s nobody alive today that’s ever going to see another one, and why wouldn’t you celebrate it,” said Jackie Birch, Mayor of South Woodham Ferrers.
“Queen Elizabeth II has served this country without putting a foot wrong for 60 years, and you can’t get much better than that. She is a wonderful example of duty and care.”
Local town councilor Peter Wyatt concluded: “This weekend has shown just how much the public love the royal family and appreciate just what they do for the country.”
Millions of people took part in the Diamond Jubilee across Britain through street parties, concerts, and royal pageantry led by Queen Elizabeth II and her family.