Emma King, Hugo Cortez, Adam Buckley and Shay Carroll demonstrate a routine from "Stomp" for members of the Philippine media at the Ambassadors Theatre in London. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
When the international phenomenon “Stomp” returns to Manila later this month, it’s not just the show that is making a comeback to the Philippines. US-based Filipino Andres Fernandez will be part of the cast for the limited run of “Stomp” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) from June 17-22.
For Fernandez, a 17-year veteran Stomper, it’s a long overdue homecoming “23 years in the making.” The last time he was in the Philippines was back in December 1991 to help his brother Johnny, a former US cast member of the musical “Miss Saigon,” who at the time had just released an album.
The Fernandez brothers had performed as opening acts for the Hawaii shows of Kapamilya stars Martin Nievera and Gary Valenciano.
“I’m just so extremely excited, I can’t wait to get back,” Fernandez said in a statement.
Born to a Kapampangan father and a Visayan mother, Fernandez is currently part of the US touring production of “Stomp.”
“I’m not really sure yet what role they’ll have me do in the Manila production,” he said in the statement. “When I went on the European tour last summer, I did the lead role – the guy that starts off the whole show. He’s a character called Sarge, as in sergeant, ‘coz he’s sort of in charge of everybody.”
Adam Buckley, Emma King, Hugo Cortez and Shay Carroll are interviewed by ABS-CBN's Korina Sanchez at the Ambassadors Theatre in London. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
Fernandez’s co-stars in Manila are already looking forward to performing with the Filipino, who has become a legend among Stompers since he has played all eight characters in the popular show, which is currently running on both London’s West End and New York’s Broadway, in addition to the touring company.
“I’ve never even seen him. But, I mean, he’s done every single role there is to do,” Adam Buckley told members of the Philippine media who came to see him in London.
Buckley, who will likely play Sarge in Manila, is confident that they will be able to gel even though they will only have a couple of rehearsals before “Stomp” opens at the CCP Main Theater on June 17.
“In terms of gelling with him, he will walk through. There is no one out there that needs to be carried. I cannot wait to meet him,” he said.
Luke Creswell, who created “Stomp” with fellow Briton Steve McNicholas, is also not worried about the Manila cast.
“He’s been in the show for a long time and I like him,” he said of Fernandez. “He’s one of the few people who could do any role in the show.”
“What’s interesting about ‘Stomp’ is it started with some seven people from Britain. Then it became eight from Britain and one from Scotland and Western England. Then very quickly, it became lots of different cultures -- Brazilian, Mexican, we have everything. And it’s great because it makes it richer,” he added.
Although he has yet to arrive in Manila, Buckley, who performs “Stomp” at the West End, already has an idea of what will happen once they arrive here.
“We’ll do the normal sound check on the first day and that would be sort of about two hours. That’s the main one. But then we’ll be doing our rehearsal before every show. And that is more than enough time to do what needs to be done,” he explained.
“Everything is just the same. The skeleton of the show is the same and it never changes. We do basketball, a bit of brooms. I mean, he (Fernandez) could easily walk in. I have this faith that he had been there, done that,” he said.
First time in PH
For Buckley and two other Stompers who will make the trip to the Philippines, it will be their first time in the country.
“I’ve never been to Manila. But I’m going a week early first and see the sights,” Buckley said, who is hoping to get to Manila by June 10. “The problem when we go that far the first time is that we don’t get the time to go out. By the time we get in, sound check and the show is going. We just don’t really get that much chance.”
Emma King, who is also part of the current London cast of “Stomp,” admitted that she has yet to do her research on the Philippines.
“I’m looking to explore and see what you guys are like, and see what you think of the show,” she said.
But Shay Carroll, who is part of the touring company of “Stomp,” already knows what he wants to do in Manila.
“I’ve never been to Manila but I came from a hip-hop, breakdancing background and I know quite a lot about the Filipino as a dancer, as a hip-hop dancer. They’re amazing. And if we find time, I’m gonna get some classes,” he said.