Sunday, January 12, 2014

Marco Polo: An Untold Love Story (the Musical) | February 8-9, 2014

The Artists Theater Center presents the world premiere of its musical production, Marco Polo: An Untold Love Story written, composed and directed by Rogelio Saldo Chua. This is happening on February 8 (8pm) and February 9 (3pm) at the Meralco Theater in Ortigas, Pasig City.

Marco Polo had its invitational preview concert last August 10, 2013 at the Meralco Theater. It was not yet a full-length musical but it was intended to show to theater enthusiasts the taste of a new Filipino musical heading towards West End production in London, shows in Beligium and select Asian cities, including Singapore.

The photos here were taken during the preview concert. That show was jampacked! Many people even made their way to sit on the pathway stairs because there were no more seats to accommodate everyone.

In 1271, Marco Polo joins his father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo on their return to Shangtu in faraway Cathay. They are on a mission for the Great Kublai Khan who rules an empire that stretched from the Danube to the Sea of Japan. During this time, there are internecine wars in the West among European potentates and, in the East conflicts among powerful Mongol warlords. But, the Polo caravan is resolute. Step by step, they continue courageously to trek the silk road toward their intended destination.
Act I of the musical recounts the voyage of Marco Polo from Venice to Central Asia and his encounter with Kogajin, the daughter of the Great Khan. They fall in love. However, Kogajin is a princess in the royal Mongol bloodline. Marco, on the other hand, is a foreigner and the son of an ordinary Venetian merchant. Act II brings us to Cathay and tells the story of Marco’s quest, amidst strong opposition from the ruling Mongol elite, to do all that is required of him to deserve Kogajin.

Will Marco and Kogajin succeed in their pursuit of true love? Is it destiny that controls everything or is it self-will? Is there truly a great divide between East and West? These are the overarching themes of Marco Polo, an Untold Love Story, a new musical.


David Bianco (Marco Polo)
David performed for the prestigious Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and for the Dangerous Ground Productions in New York City. He has also performed for Repertory Philippines, and will be featured soon as one of the lead roles in the TV musical series The Kitchen Musical.

Stephanie Reese (Kogajin)
Stephanie played the role of Tuptim in the West End, London revival of King and I. She played Kim in the German version of Miss Saigon in Suttgart, and Esmeralda in World Premiere of the Walt Disney production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in Berlin. She was the first Filipino-American to do a full solo concert at the Carnegie Hall in New York.

 David Bianco as Marco Polo & Stephanie Reese as Princess Kogajin

Chinggoy Alonso as Rustigielo

Lead Cast also include:  
Chinggoy Alonso (Rustigielo/ Doge/ Chancellor/ Pope/ Chief Monk/ Learned Man/ Mongol General)
Pinky Marquez (Empress Wu Ze-Lin)
George Yang (Kublai Khan)
Nicky Trivino (Princess Toragana)

The Supporting Leads are

Enrihl Seguino (Lord Khogatal/ Friar William)
Brent Metken (Niccolo)
Miguel Faustmann (Maffeo)
Nico Dans (Enzo)
Terence Guillermo (Prelate/ Friar Nicholas)

3 Barons:
Kuya Manzano (Baron Tegan)
John Alaras (Baron Togachar)
Atticus King (Baron Togana/ Kaidu)

3 Friends of Marco Polo:
Jonas Gruet (Antonello/ Marco Polo understudy)
Vien Alen King (Maurizio)
Martin Buen (Giorgio)

3 Ladies-in-Waiting:

Gian Gloria (Li / Princess Kogajin understudy)
Barbie Rodriguez (Hua)
Gabbi Buencamino  (Mei/ Dancer/ Empress Wu understudy)

The Ensemble:
Edmund Borinaga, Tara Cabaero, JC Cantor, Trisha Descallar, Arvin Ello, Camille Gallano, Fiona Gallano, Natalia Go, Pearl Gomez, Hazel Maranan, Marvin Oliva, Joshua Ramirez, Agnes Sarreal, Victor Sy, Janine Tolentino, Remus Villanueva, and Edgar Allan Yu

Pinky Marquez as Empress Wu

George Yang as Kublai Khan

by Rogelio Saldo Chua
Author, Composer and Lyricist

What we know about Marco Polo are the stories that he shared with the romance writer Rustigielo when both were in a Genoan prison in 1298. The book, The Travels of Marco Polo or the Description of the World (its original title), is rich in details about the characteristics of peoples, their politics, culture and what we refer to now as the eco-system of various regions that he visited in the East. The veracity of the facts and figures in Rustigielo’s book has been the subject of controversy among Marco Polo scholars, critics and admirers. Fact of the matter is that beyond the colorful narrative of people and places, flora and fauna, we don’t know much about the personal life of Marco Polo. Many conjecture that a young man of such energy and vigor must have a love interest in his long sojourn in China.

Rustigielo’s book does mention that the return of Marco Polo to the West was prompted by the command of the Great Khan. Marco Polo was to accompany a young Mongol Princess in her voyage to the Port of Ormuz en route to her intended bridegroom. Living in the court of Shangtu for several years, as a trusted adviser of the Great Khan, was there any relationship between Marco Polo and the Mongol Princess? History has no cue. This musical production is a dramatization of what could be one of the many untold stories of Marco Polo, a young man who left Venice in 1271 to go to China in search for adventure, fame and fortune which he clearly achieved. But, beyond this, he found true love amidst the setting of an East-West encounter rich in historical significance.

Kuya Manzano as Baron Tegan

Brent Metken as Niccolo


3 Ladies-in-waiting: Gabbi Buencamino, Gian Gloria & Barbie Rodriguez

Orchestra Center: P 1,563
Orchestra Left & Right: P 1,042
Loge: P 781.50
Balcony: P 521

Student Discount: 40% off on tickets.

Available over the counter. Not available on internet purchase. Present Student ID upon purchase.
Present Student ID upon entering the venue.

3 Friends of Marco Polo: Vien Alen King, Jonas Gruet & Martin Buen


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