‘Act 2’ for Gerald Santos as Thuy in ‘Miss Saigon’

Gerald Santos is flying back to Europe with a new challenge.

The Filipino singer-actor is headed to Copenhagen to reprise the role of Thuy in the Denmark production of Miss Saigon, which premieres on 9 February 2023 at the Det Ny Teater.

Santos — grand champion of GMA’s singing competition Pinoy Pop Superstar season 2 in 2006 — debuted on the international stage as Thuy in Miss Saigon’s UK-Ireland tour in 2017 to 2019.

“Our rehearsals start in December. I’ll spend Christmas and New Year in Copenhagen,’ Santos, 31, said in an online interview.

The original production of Miss Saigon in 1991 launched Lea Salonga to international stardom and opened the door to generations of Filipino theater talents who would appear in productions of the
award-winning musical in various countries.

Santos transitioned as a performing artist from TV to theater, starring in a musical production on the life of the Filipino saint Pedro Calungsod.

Then came the break — he earned the nod of Miss Saigon producer Cameron Mackintosh to play the vocally demanding character of Thuy, a Vietnamese soldier and cousin of bar girl Kim, to whom he’s been betrothed, until she meets an American soldier amid the chaos of the Vietnam War.

As for reprising his role, this time in Denmark, Santos said: “I guess the Thuy in me is still very much alive.”

It was a last-minute decision to audition for the Danish production, he recalled. After learning that no one has been chosen to play Thuy, Santos said he tried his luck two days before the deadline” “I had nothing to lose. So humabol ako.”

He submitted a video clip, done hurriedly, with no vocal preparations at all. “The video was done in one take,” Santos said.

“After a week or so, I received an email from Miss Saigon Denmark. They were offering me the role of Thuy. No callbacks or round 2 auditions,” Santos recounted, beaming.

“They just asked me to study a Danish nursery rhyme and then sing and recite it for them. Then they told me in an email that I had clinched the role, after seeing my videos.

“The thought of being offered the role again was overwhelming and humbling at the same time. Wow, they must have really seen something for me to be given the part.”

Of the more than 590 shows of the UK-Ireland tour, Santos did 553 — a punishing achievement given the tremendous vocal demands of the Thuy character.

“Maybe, somehow, that record could speak for itself,” said a proud Santos.

However, he still has anxieties about doing it in Denmark, a non-English-speaking country.

“I may have done Thuy for two years in the UK-Ireland tour, but it was in English. This time it will be in Danish, which I know nothing about,” Santos confessed.

“To be offered such a role, and in a different language at that, means they have huge confidence in me. It also means they are expecting much from me.”

Santos pointed out that his being Asian is “definitely a huge factor” in having bagged the role.

But he said the Denmark production is looking for a Thuy who is beyond the “Asian stereotypical villain character and looks.”

“I think they want a Thuy who will humanize the character more and elicit empathy from the audience. Thuy is not your typical hardcore villain as previously imagined and portrayed,” Santos said.

To prepare, he’s been watching Danish programs and listening to Danish songs.

“Danish is one of the hardest languages in the world. I will exert a lot of effort to fully learn it,” Santos vowed. “Upon arrival in Copenhagen to start rehearsals, we will have a language coach to guide and help us. Learning the Danish language will be my biggest preparation.”

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