(From left) Cecile Licad, Lisa Macuja and Lea Salonga pose for a photo after the gala performance of "The Legends and the Classics Encore." Photo from Macuja's Facebook page
MANILA – Prima ballerina Lisa Macuja couldn’t hold back her tears after the opening night of “The Legends and the Classics Encore” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Saturday.
After receiving a boisterous standing ovation from the entire audience gathered at the CCP Main Theater, Broadway actress Lea Salonga spoke to the crowd with Macuja and pianist Cecile Licad beside her.
Salonga said the idea of doing a repeat came about even before “The Legends and the Classics” finished its run last year at the same venue. Although they were all open to the idea of performing together again, she said it was Macuja who was determined to make it happen, in part because the ballerina is set to retire after this year.
Macuja is listed as the concert’s producer.
When Salonga, in her spiel, mentioned that in time, they would eventually leave the spotlight, “some earlier than others,” she looked at Macuja, who then covered her face in tears. They then hugged each other.
“I think it really hit her when the words came out, siyempre very emotional. Reality bites!” the show’s publicist Susan de Guzman told ABS-CBNnews.com. “But she managed to still be composed enough to continue with the encore.”
After the main program, the three artists returned to the stage for an apt encore of “What I Did for Love” from the musical “A Chorus Line,” which talks about the love for performing.
In her program notes, Macuja described her participation in the show as "nothing short of a miracle."
"After more than 30 years of dancing professionally, the cartilage on my ankes had been worn too think and I was advised by my doctors to retire -- or risk permanent damage. However, the stubborn streak in me refused to heed his advice and I gave it one last shot," she wrote.
In fine form
The standing ovation accorded to the trio was well-earned. Salonga was in fine form the entire night from the concert’s opening “Nais Ko” to her well-applauded medley of Broadway songs that included “I Dreamed A Dream” and “On My Own” from “Les Miserables,” “Memory” from “Cats,” and “For Good” and “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked.”
Salonga also performed “I’d Give My Life For You” from “Miss Saigon,” which she said she learned at the rehearsal hall of the CCP and first performed at a concert at the CCP Main Theater before she left for London for the musical’s world premiere in 1989.
Licad, meanwhile, performed the difficult “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini” by Rachmaninoff, together with the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra as conducted by musical director Gerard Salonga.
The internationally acclaimed pianist, with guest cellist Francisco Llorin, also provided the accompaniment for Macuja’s solo “Dying Swan,” with the Ballet Manila founder showing the impeccable form that made her the country’s premiere ballerina for decades.
Her ballet company also joined her for the “Paquita Grande Divertissement,” and Macuja also did a pas de deux from “Romeo and Juliet” with Ballet Manila principal dancer Rudy de Dios.
The show ended with all three artists performing the OPM hit “Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas.”
“The Legends and the Classics Encore” will have one more show on Sunday at 5 p.m. at the CCP.