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West End stars unite for The Philippine Dream

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SUMMER Strallen (The Sound of Music, Top Hat), Anton du Beke (Strictly Come Dancing), Dianne Pilkington (Mamma Mia!, Wicked) and cast members from Miss Saigon will head a glittering line-up of West End stars in The Philippine Dream.

The one-off Gala at the Leicester Square Theatre on Sunday, August 17, 2014, will raise money for the Tuloy Foundation, which cares for abandoned and abused orphans in Manila. A special guest host for the evening will be announced shortly.

Completing the line up are Hugh Maynard (Miss Saigon), Rachelle Ann Go (Miss Saigon and well-known Filipino popstar), Daniel Buckley (The Book of Mormon, Loserville), Charlotte Riby (Billy Elliot, Hairspray), Alicia Beck (Cats, Zurich Ballet), Tyrone Huntley (The Book of Mormon, Memphis), Harry Francis (A Chorus Line, Edward Scissorhands), Lady Imelda (Glam Jam) and vintage trio The Dolly Girls.

All proceeds raised on the night will go directly towards the building of a brand new Arts Centre at the Tuloy Foundation, with the potential for a small theatre to be built, allowing young children the opportunity to perform and showcase their talents. The Orphanage is keen for performing to be a part of their schooling as it has such a positive effect on many of the young people, bringing confidence, self discovery, pride and joy into their daily lives.

The Philippine Dream is produced by West End performer Katy Osborne, in association with Harry Francis of Francis Hume Productions. Katy is currently appearing in Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre and in February 2014 spent two weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Manila, teaching workshops to enrich and nourish the children, aged between 8-18, through musical theatre.

Katy personally raised an astonishing £5000 for the charity, and was delighted when producer Cameron Mackintosh donated a further £1000 to the Foundation.

Last week, Katy organised the first West End Sports Day, where nine musicals, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Bodyguard, The Lion King, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera competed. This, combined with a donation from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group and bucket collections at Wicked and Miss Saigon, brings the fundraising total to over £8000. But there is still more to be done.

When Katy met with Jon Jon Briones, who is currently playing ‘The Engineer’ in Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre, his own experience growing up in the slums of Manila touched her heart:

“I was born in one of the many slum areas of of Manila. Growing up, there was not much for us to do. No place to go after school that would keep us occupied and out of trouble. But I was one of the lucky ones. Because I could sing, I received a scholarship to an exclusive school. It allowed me to hone my vocal skills, meet musical directors and people who introduced me to musical theatre. The rest is history.

“What Katy is doing is so important. There are not enough places like this in The Philippines and most you have to pay a lot to go to. I’ve seen videos of Katy’s kids performing and you can see the joy in their faces. They are hungry for this. Let’s help Katy help these kids continue to grow.”

Founder of the Tuloy Foundation, Fr. Rocky said: “The performing arts school is not a whimsical wish, but a very deliberate decision on my part, knowing fully well that it will require a large investment. God willing, it will be done for the poorest of the poor children. I have seen it with my own eyes how easily it is for the children to express themselves in their movements during dance.

“This year, an angel dropped out of the blue, an import straight from London. Katy Osborne, not knowing a word of our dialect, communicated to them through dance and acting. The children responded with super spontaneity, excitement, enthusiasm and love. I asked myself, how can I not heed the compelling need to start a performing arts school.”

Katy Osborne added: “I have never seen such an incredible transformation in a child through the art form of musical theatre. Some of these children went from not being able to make proper eye contact or speaking louder than a whisper, to desperately wanting to do solo singing auditions! I could see with my own eyes the confidence and excitement they had about the possibilities that performing gave them. I was moved every single day with their bravery and courage. I’m in awe and utterly proud of them. This needs to be part of their education. It’s integral.”

To book tickets visit leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/.

For more information on the Tuloy Foundation, visit www.tuloyfoundation.org/.