Aicelle Santos recalls moving ‘Miss Saigon’ composer to tears during audition

Carlo Orosa - The Philippine Star
Aicelle Santos recalls moving �Miss Saigon� composer to tears during audition
Aicelle Santos graces the red carpet during the Cologne, Germany tour of ‘Miss Saigon’ in January 2019.

MANILA, Philippines — Aicelle Santos revealed a touching moment she shared with “Miss Saigon” composer Claude-Michel Schönberg.

“It was supposed to be a secret,” Aicelle began in a recent video posted by GMG Productions. “My first audition for ‘Miss Saigon’ was in 2016. I had no theater background. In 2018, my manager asked me to audition for Gigi. Despite my reservations, I decided to give it a try.”

Aicelle wasn’t initially hopeful, remembering her unsuccessful first audition.

“When I auditioned, there was this white guy in front of me. I sang, but he said, ‘You’re too nice. Do you know Gigi’s background?’ I realized I didn’t know much about ‘Miss Saigon,’ but he shared the full narrative and asked me to sing again.”

The author with Aicelle and assistant choreographer Arnold Trinidad months after the news Aicelle got accepted in ‘Miss Saigon’ UK tour.

“As I sang again, a tear fell from my eye. He said, ‘Okay, we’ll just call you.’”

Aicelle with Isay Alvarez-Seña, the original Gigi Van Tranh, and Kiara Dario, who is playing Gigi in the ongoing international tour of the musical.

Weeks later, Aicelle received the news that she had landed the role of Gigi Van Tranh to tour the UK with “Miss Saigon,” performing in Southampton, Manchester, Hippodrome, Plymouth, Norwich, Alhambra, Sunderland, and Zurich.

During one of the shows, Gerald Santos, another Filipino cast member playing Thuy, asked her, “Who auditioned you?”

“Basta may puting mama,” Aicelle replied. “Hindi ako sure eh kung sino?”

Gerald gave her some names to jog her memory and showed her a “Miss Saigon” program. Aicelle pointed out the photo of the man who had auditioned her, only to discover it was Claude-Michel Schönberg.

“Embarrassed,” Aicelle exclaimed, “Oh my God... Was that him? I was so glad I didn’t know. If I did, I would’ve been a nervous wreck and probably wouldn’t have done well in my auditions!”

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