After performing to packed crowds in Resorts World Manila earlier this year in the first run of the musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Jon Santos admitted his role as veteran drag queen Bernadette is a different experience from his usual stand-up comedy. “Napakagandang excursion outside my impersonation, political satire, impersonation impersonation na ipahinga muna si Miriam ‘The Defensive’ Defensor Santiago and si Sherap Espada at siyempre si Bernadette na ating binigyang bihay dito sa Priscilla Queen of the Desert ay fictional, kathang isip. So ang sarap sarap na over three months nagkaroon kami ng chance umimbento ng fictional character. So parang siyang ‘meat-and-potatoes’ acting na nahaluan ng dance, comedy, singing. Wonderful adventure siya. Pero babalik din tayo sa politics kasi election na eh, malapit na,” he admitted.
After returning to the country after the Singapore run of the play, Jon said he is excited about the second run of the show until December 5. “Hindi dumadali, ewan ko kung bakit. Kasi nandun lagi yung challenge lagi na ma-break mo yung dati mong way of delivering. At saka iba ng iba yung cast. Yung ka-eksena mo bago ng bagong aktor na yung bato sa ‘yo iba so yung magiging bato mo iba rin. Ang napansin ko naman, na-bi-build yung aking confidence so sana magka-play din ako ulit. Nung una takot ako eh. Hyper na hyper kami ngayon sa kaligayahan lalo pa't limited run so yung kilig mo may halong senti, may halong lungkot. Kinikinita kinita ko na kung gaano kahirap magpaalam at the very last show,” he admitted.
Even though he has performed abroad several times, Jon said bringing Priscilla abroad was a different experience. He says the production received “dancing ovations” in Resorts World Sentosa. “Sobrang kakataba ng puso at nakaka-inspire kasi hindi lahat ng audiences dun madaming Pinoy. May mga gabi na all expats, may mga gabi na 50% expat, 50% Singaporean theatre going community. And yet nag-ko-connect pa din kami with them. So nabigay buhay namin at nagawa namin yung trabaho namin na mailahad yung storya ng magkaibigan to this banyagang crowd. Sa akin napaka-first nun kasi nakakapag-show man ako sa abroad, 90% nung shows na ginagawa namin abroad ay yung mga kababayan natin, the OFW community, the homesick immigrant Pinoys. First time ko magtanghal to mostly foreigners. Ang sarap sarap ng feeling. Nakaka-proud,” he admitted.
Although they are still in talks for another overseas run, Jon couldn't contain his excitement at bringing the musical to other countries. “May mga usap usapin, may mga negotiation na nagaganap involving taking the show again to other Asian countries ang maganda naman diyan, dahil lumaki na yung cast, meron na parang cast A and cast B so portable and tourable na siya. Hindi siya nag-depend sa technology, nag-depend siya sa acting, dancing at pusong Pinoy, for a production to import us to their country, parang doable. Keri ika nga (laughs),” he says.
After decades of doing impersonations of famous personalities, Jon said there is one Pinoy celebrity closest to his heart. “I imagine siguro 30 men and 60 men kasi the Filipina is the one na mas madali gawing monologue kasi ang Pinay ang mas nagsasalita more than the Pinoy. So yung mga female characters mas madami I experienced. Si Ate Vi the ‘Star for all Seasoning’ ang closest to my heart kasi mapa-showbiz, mapa-pag-ibig, mapa-politika, mapawoomanhood, mapa-stardom, meron at meron siyang kuwento,” he shareD.
Watch Jon Santos along with Michael Williams, Red Concepcion, OJ Mariano, Pinky Marquez and, Ima Castro in the second run of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert starting November 28 until December 5 at Resorts World Manila. For ticket inquiries, you may call RWM Box Office at 908-8000 local 7700 or visit. www.rwmanila.com/priscilla/