One Broadway anthem that illustrates the very reason why artists follow the calling and seduction of the Muses, is the iconic ballad “What I Did for Love" from A Chorus Line.
Clocking so many hours in rehearsal, pushing limb, bones, and spirits, an artist, be it in the movies or the theater, always do it for the passion and the love. The applauses and the awards inspire and intoxicate. The critiques, rejections, and tragedies are rammed to throats like humble pie and bring you back to the ground.
With the sweetness of recognition come the sorrows—clashing egos, backstabbing, and gossip—that are not only unavoidable but inevitable.
Still, those who choose to embrace the world of the arts not only as a career but also as a vocation do not forget the things they did as they continued their passion.
The Philippines is home to some of the most illustrious musical theater artists, Lea Salonga, Joanna Ampil, Rachel Anne Go, Jose Lana, Paolo Montalban, and Gerald Santos, to mention a few.
Another name worthy to be part of this crème de la crème of world-class musical theater Filipino greats is Iroy Abesamis.
The former Philippine High School of the Arts graduate spent 13 years in Hong Kong Disneyland performing in Festival of the Lion King, and Mickey and The Wondrous Book.
Two years ago, he was also part of Miss Saigon UK and International Tour. His most recent work was in The King and I, UK and International Tour 2019 to 2020 but the latter part of the tour was canceled due to pandemic.
Abesamis shares his musical theater beginnings, “I am a bit shy in person but it feels like magic when I am onstage. It’s as if I am in a different place. I love the feel of adrenalin rush when I’m onstage. The adrenalin rush is the feeling I love best during a performance. I also enjoy working with other people from different backgrounds. The experience itself is something that I will always remember.”
“I’ve always felt that I’m not the best dancer of singer, in a way it grounded and pushed me to do better. For me, its integrity and how you respect the show and the people you’re working with. I also think that I’m a reliable performer,” he said of his strengths as a singer and performer.
“I still feel the jitters before a performance but I feel it is great kind of nervousness. It is your body saying hey, you are here to do give your best. You know, there’s no escape when you’re onstage already so you just have to concentrate and give it everything you’ve got,” he added.
The curtain call applause gives him an indescribable high. As for the negative reviews, he takes as constructive criticisms.
“You know, one must have an open mind so you can use them to improve your performance,” he said.
He considers his Miss Saigon experience very unforgettable.
“It was super challenging and the show is very tiring. But it’s a dream come true. Growing up, I’ve always dreamed to be a part of it,” he admitted.
His biggest musical idol, a no brainer of course, is Lea Salonga, the original Kim. He is also in awe of the talent and professionalism of Leo Valdez who played Engineer in Miss Saigon, Jose Llana (King of Siam), and Cezarah Bonner (Lady Thiang) and Aicelle Santos, who played Gigi, and Gerald Santos who did Thuy .
Abesamis shares another unforgettable moment that happened in The King and I, on how he became Simon of Legree: “The main actor was pulled out to cover another role and the first cover wasn’t available. So I had to take on the part being second cover. It’s your responsibility to know your blockings etc. if you’re a cover. I haven’t had proper rehearsals, no costume fitting like zero preparations. That night in Cardiff, Wales I was given an hour to prepare, luckily I pulled it off with help from our dance captain Rachel Picar and the tremendous support from the whole company. On top of that, I was sick! But the show must go on. Thank you God, I survived it.”
Asked why should we support and love him, he replies humbly, “Whenever I’m part of something, like what Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray said, I always think of the Philippines. I’m raising not just myself but our flag together with 110,000,000 Filipinos around the world.”
“Never stop reaching for your goals. Always be grateful with your family and friends and most especially with your mentors,” Iroy Abesamis ends.