Why Karylle did not pass 'Miss Saigon' auditions

Posted at 01/22/2013 1:17 PM | Updated as of 01/22/2013 9:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The reason singer-actress Karylle did not make it to the final round of the “Miss Saigon” auditions had very little to do with her performance.

Kapamilya singer-actress Karylle. File photo

According to “Miss Saigon” Philippine representative Dong Alegre, it had a lot to do with her appearance.

Initially, Karylle was eyeing not the role of “Miss Saigon” lead Kim, but the hardened Vietnamese bar girl Gigi, who was originally portrayed by Isay Alvarez.

Alegre said the judges were convinced that the fresh-faced Karylle “was not physically ‘cut’ to play the role of a ‘tired, aging bar girl.’”

So they decided to consider “The Kitchen Musical” star for the role of Kim, originally played by Lea Salonga.

“The first to come to mind is Karylle, who, despite her celebrity status, came incredibly prepared to blow us away. Without pretension, she first sang ‘Movie (in My Mind)’ – perfectly. Earning a ‘callback’ for her exceptional delivery, she came back to sing the same song again as perfectly as she did the day before; but halfway through, we were all fairly convinced that she was not physically ‘cut’ to play the role of a ‘tired, aging bar girl.’” Alegre said in an interview with talent manager Carlo Orosa published in The Philippine Star on Monday.

“As we needed to explore if she could possibly be a suitable Kim, she was asked to sing ‘I’d Give My Life For You’ – which she also sang to perfection, until a dreaded ‘thank you’ was heard from the end of the panel table causing a heated discussion to ensue amongst us,” he added.

In the end, Karylle was not accepted to take on the role of the Vietnamese prostitute Kim because she looked too “dignified,” according to Alegre.

“Until we collectively understood that her beauty was simply too ‘dignified’ for her to play the role of Kim. ‘She would be the perfect Mary Poppins…or the perfect Maria (in ‘The Sound of Music’), noted Laurence Connor. So with a heavy heart, we just decided that if we could not cast her in the show – the only option left was for us to fall in love with her instead. And we did,” he said.

In a television interview last month, Karylle said she does not feel bad that she was not accepted when she auditioned for the West End revival of “Miss Saigon.”

“As a theater artist, you have to know that it’s part of it. It’s just really sad that the media portrays it as such that it has to be something to be ashamed of,” she told “The Buzz.”

“How will you know if a part is right for you if you never even went to the audition process? That’s how they do it in other countries. Here, we are not so welcoming of it because, ‘Ay, hindi ka natanggap.’ Bakit ganoon? E baka ‘di naman bagay sa iyo, ‘di ba? May dahilan din naman,” she added.

Aside from “The Kitchen Musical”, Karylle is also part of the ABS-CBN noontime show “It’s Showtime.” She recently finished the successful run of the pop ballet “Rama Hari” with Christian Bautista.

The search for Kim

At the close of the Manila auditions for “Miss Saigon” last November, only six female hopefuls were asked to stay until the very end.

They are former Kapamilya singer Rachelle Ann Go, theater actresses Tanya Manalang and Apple Chiu, singer-actress Frencheska Farr, Emerald Bañares and Mary Jane Solomon.

Alegre believes that Go, Chiu, Manalang, Solomon and Farr, among others, “stand a very good chance in being part of the show.”

Former Kapamilya singer Rachelle Ann Go. File photo

“Contending for male ensemble, I’d say Irvine Roy Abesamis, Clark Francis de la Riva, John Raymond Conception, Victor Bernardino Sy and Cyril Fallar are very much ‘in the mix’ mainly due to their exceptional vocal and dance abilities,” he said.

Only 40 performers will be accepted in “Miss Saigon,” which is scheduled to open next year.

Asked if he thinks the panel has “found” Kim, Alegre said: “I’d like to think so…but having said that, it may be useful to remind ourselves that auditions for the role of Kim and other Asian performers are also scheduled to happen in London sometime in 2013. Bottomline, even if we had ‘shortlisted’ a number of potential cast members from the recently concluded auditions, we also need to accept that Cameron (Mackintosh) and his artistic team would still need to ‘explore’ (as we did here in Manila) what London has to offer. Further, British Equity would require that as well.”