As a young thespian at six years old then, Markki Stroem already took the stage in his Repertory Philippines theater workshop’s production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But it was a Broadway play in Manila that really instilled his love for theater. “When I was 14 years old when I watched Miss Saigon with Lea Salonga as Kim. I was blown away. But even when I was young, my parents already took me to watch plays. The first one I remember was in Germany called Up with People and it was kind of a youth show,” he told PUSH.
In his seventh year on stage, Markki joins REP again as part of the cast of the Broadway musical Hair which opens this month. “This is an interesting show. it’s something new. It’s something different. The first time I actually heard of it was in Glee. They did a mash-up of songs from Hair and I found it so catchy. And then I found out one of the biggest songs in this show is my mom’s favorite song ‘Age of Aquarius’ so I said it was destiny and I am doing this,” he explained.
One of the highlights of Markki’s year was celebrating his 30th birthday abroad. “I went on an Eastern Europe trip on a bus with Vietnamese people. I was supposed to do another indie movie but because of one day that I wasn’t able to be there, they removed me from the show. But the reason I wasn’t able to be there was because it was my brother’s graduation. This is on the record because people are saying other things which aren’t true. But I went to the graduation of my brother and I went alone on this trip. Because my brother went to my graduation and I planned it a year in advance. I went to see my parents. And that particular day they needed me to be on set was the same day of the graduation in Newcastle in the UK,” he said.
Markki said up to this day he has no regrets about the sacrifice he made for his family. “It’s an awesome film but my brother comes first. Family comes first. For me, if you say you’re going to do something already, you do it. I have two brothers and he just graduated college and I promised him two years ago pa that I would go. Imagine telling him, ‘Oh I can’t go to your graduation because I have a film pa to shoot.’ I’d feel really bad. And the time kept changing from when they needed me. Mine was set,” he added.
His unplanned three-week trip ended up becoming a blessing because of all the new experiences he had by traveling solo. “After my brother’s graduation, instead of coming home… because I was supposed to come home but I found out from my management (I was replaced) so I joined a bus trip with people who don’t speak a word of English, Vietnamese, and a couple of Malaysians. So we went from Frankfurt to Prague to Bakislava and Budapest and then Salzburg, Vienna. And then I went to Belgium to see my friend. Eat, Pray, Love talaga ito. And then from Belgium, I flew back to the UK for a bit and then I went to Norway for a week to see my family and my grandparents and stuff like that. Then I flew home,” he said.
The Hair actor admitted his birthday trip was definitely a life-changing adventure for him. “It was in a lot of different ways. I got to drink with a bunch of Vietnamese who did not speak a word of English. And I learned Vietnamese words. It was an amazing experience. I met so many different people. You just get to meet people from different walks of life,” he added.
Watch Markki in Hair, the first-ever tribal love-rock musical on Broadway which will be the year-end grand musicale of Repertory Philippines’ (REP) 2017 season, running from November 17 to December 17 at the Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1, Makati City.