Meet the latest Filipina to play Kim in 'Miss Saigon'

Shiela Reyes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 12 2017 04:38 PM

Meet the latest Filipina to play Kim in 'Miss Saigon' 1
Joreen Bautista will be joining the UK tour of 'Miss Saigon.' Photo provided by Joreen Bautista

MANILA – Filipina actress Joreen Bautista, who will be the alternate for the lead role of Kim in the upcoming UK tour of “Miss Saigon” had mixed emotions when she learned that she was chosen to be part of the production.

In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News on Wednesday, the 17-year-old Bautista said she only tried her luck “to gain certain exposure.”

Recalling her audition, Bautista said she sang a few bars of “Sun and Moon” before she was asked to sing parts of Kim's big solo number “I'd Give My Life For You.”

“There were about 15 to 20 of us upstairs and in that batch, I was the only one who got a callback. I got further callbacks after that and got into the finals. In about a month from then, I received an email from the Miss Saigon casting director, Mr. Paul Wooler, telling me I have been kept in consideration for a Kim understudy. In December, I got offered the role of alternate Kim through email,” she said.

An excited Bautista immediately took to social media to share that she got the coveted role, only to remove her post later on.

“I had mixed feelings but my excitement outweighed my nervousness! I first told my family and then my friends. At first, out of excitement, I thought of posting it, and so I did. But then I learned it was best to keep it private until the announcement so I took down the post until it was officially announced,” she said.

The principal cast for the UK tour was announced on Tuesday. Aside from Bautista, the others Filipinos in the cast include Red Concepcion and Gerald Santos, who were chosen to play Engineer and Thuy, respectively.

The UK tour of "Miss Saigon," which will also include stops in Ireland, will kick off in Leicester on July 3. 


While she started singing at age two and developed a love for acting a little after that, Bautista had little theater exposure before she bagged the role and “Miss Saigon” will be her first major production.

“I've enrolled in Trumpets and other theater workshops in Pampanga. The only theater shows I only really got the chance to perform in were the showcases like ‘Into The Woods’ (as Lucinda), ‘Once on This Island’ (as Ti Moune) and the school production ‘Pippin’ (as the Leading Player),” she said.

Despite this, Bautista does not want to pressure herself too much despite the high standards set by Lea Salonga as Kim.

“As much as I want to reach as far knowing I'm representing my country, I do not want to think about pressuring myself too much about it as I want to make this journey enjoyable. From there, the best of me always comes out and not when I am stressed. So my plan is to take it one step at a time and enjoy every moment to both learn and contribute as much as I can,” she said.


Meet the latest Filipina to play Kim in 'Miss Saigon' 2
Joreen Bautista with Lea Salonga. Photo provided by Joreen Bautista

Bautista, however, shared that she has already been given the chance to talk to Salonga to seek some advice.

“I first asked her about how she conditioned herself knowing there are not so easy scenes needed to be done by Kim. She said it would be good to have a talk with my leading man and make sure boundaries are set. I also told her that I am glad I may be following her footsteps. Jokingly, she said, "So in a few years’ time you'll be cutting your hair like mine!" she said.

In the meantime, Bautista, who will be leaving for the UK on May 2 and will be gone for a year, said she has been preparing for the role by watching the "Miss Saigon: 25th Anniversary Performance" and singing through Kim's parts.

"The role takes a lot of conditioning in the mind as well and I believe prayer is the most powerful tool to give one strength, which is what I do for me to have a firm foundation," she said.