The day Bo went 'missing' onstage

The day Bo went 'missing' onstage
by Ricky Lo
December 27, 2012

I can't let the year end without taking note of how Bo Cerrudo simply “disappeared" on the stage of the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila on the Sunday we were there to watch The King and I.

Transfixed to our seats, what we saw was an actor giving a new touch to the King of Siam, only slightly reminiscent of the portrayal in theater and film of Yul Brynner who has immortalized the character.

We were not sure how Leo Valdez, who also played the King in the same presentation, interpreted the character since we never saw him (maybe with a touch of his marked performance as The Engineer in Miss Saigon?) but we were convinced that Bo, Leo's alternate, fleshed out the King with so much heart and soul that he touched the audience with his every gesture, every rise and fall of his heavily-Thai-accented English, every time he widened his eyes and raised his eyebrows to stress a point, and especially when, at a loss for anything more to say, he resorted to ending his lines with “etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!"

We've seen Bo in some of his concerts and his stints in Armida Siguion-Reyna's Aawitan Kita (the iconic TV show which was declared a National Treasure by Congress and is now staged regularly for the benefit of the senior citizens of Makati City), so we knew that he's a versatile singer who was born with vocal cords that can traverse the whole range of notes, high and low.

But when we learned that he was tapped to play the King, we sat up and wondered how he would meet the challenge. Bo has done other theater roles but the King was something else. It demands so much on the actor's singing and acting prowess. Bo hurdled the test with remarkable ease, with his energy mounting instead of diminishing throughout the nearly three-hour presentation, never letting go of the audience's rapt attention and affection until his death scene.

No, we didn't see Bo Cerrudo that Sunday afternoon on the Newport Performing Theater Arts stage. What we saw was the King of Siam given life with amazing freshness and a welcome variation of the work of other actors who came before Bo.

Take a bow, Bo, belated though it may be.

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