With the UK government now allowing open air public performances to be staged in London, live theatrical productions are now gearing up to open next month, including the upcoming six-man play Fanny and Stella: The Shocking True Story which is scheduled to be performed in a new open air venue in Kensington, London. In an interview with ABS-CBN News, London-based actor and director Joaquin Valdes shared his theatrical journey abroad. Joaquin left the Philippines in 2018 to be part of the international touring cast of Miss Saigon where he was given roles which included Thuy and The Engineer. After his stint in Miss Saigon, Joaquin and his wife decided to be based in the UK.
“It really taught me the value of taking care of my physical instrument, health, and vocal stamina. Singing that glorious score eight times a week for seven to eight weeks straight is no easy feat. It was also on that tour that I realized how much I loved my craft enough to constantly grow and hone my skill. I did not get to play Thuy apart from the cover/understudy rehearsals. I was a member of the company for a year’s contract 2018-2019. We performed in various cities and provinces in the UK, as well as in Switzerland and Germany,” he shared with ABS-CBN news online.
Fanny and Stella: The Shocking True Story follows the real-life story of two figures in Victorian London – Ernest Boulton and Frederick William Park – who were put on trial in London for dressing as women and for conspiracy to commit sodomy, with all the roles are based on actual people in history. “As soon as there was official word that outdoor performances were allowed to resume provided they followed specific industry guidelines, they jumped at the chance to mount the show,” he shared.
Even during rehearsals, Joaquin said the cast and crew had to maintain social distancing. “Our venue has a limited capacity. The chairs and tables are designed with social distancing in mind. We’re still learning these new guidelines as we mount the show, so there is a lot of excitement and curiosity surrounding our little production,” he added.
A Film graduate from the UP Diliman, Joaquin started out acting in theater at 11 years old in Repertory Philippines’ production of Evita. He has since gone on to take on a number of roles for different theater companies like Trumpets, 9Works Theatrical, New Voice, and Atlantis Theatrical Manila. He has also directed movies like Bulong, Dagim, Nino, and I.T.A.L.Y.