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MARCO POLO: The Untold Love Story, A New Musical photos + review

"Try not to sleep" , one of my students bid when I told her I will be watching a musical over the weekend, alone. How could I? I don't watch musicals often but this one thankfully was good I couldn't afford to doze off. It's not the standing ovation type but I really enjoyed it. I guess a little prior knowledge to Marco Polo has helped and the traveller that he was certainly aroused my attention since the beginning. But this is not the usual Marco Polo story you get to hear often, it is the Untold Love Story. MARCO POLO: The Untold Love Story, A New Musical.

Sure, the songs were new to me and therefore not the Les Mesirables type that you would go LSS for so it was a bit draggy at first. The first part (before the 15-minute interval) was a bit boring but the second half more than made up for it. There were also a few weak performances on the part of secondary characters. Good thing the two main roles were so good the play became rather compelling. A few minor sound malfunctions and mispronunciations as well but all could be forgiven. Anything can happen in live stage. Overall, the show was nice and thanks to all the people behind for coming up with such production for the domestic crowd.
MARCO POLO: The Untold Love Story, A New Musical

I was invited as media/blogger but I was told that photography is forbidden so I was confused what I was there for. I guess they didn't invite me so as to promote the show coz the last performance will be tonight. They wanted me to simply sit back and enjoy but it is didn't stop me from taking shots. haha!
MARCO POLO: The Untold Love Story is the first musical written and composed by a Filipino. Rogelio Saldo Chua, is presented by Artists Theater Company with Olivier Leonard as executive producer in cooperation with Meralco. The world premiere is being planned for Singapore this year to be preceded by a road show covering cities in Asia and Europe to drum up investor interest in the West End opening.



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.


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.SOURCE:


Also in the cast:
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, Jan Mata, Marvin Oliva, Joshua Ramirez, Agnes Sarreal, Dusty Suarez, Victor Sy, Janine Tolentino, Remus Villanueva, and Edgar Allan Yu.


Thanks so much Arvin Ello of for inviting me over. Arvin doesn't just blog, he was also part of the cast. How cool is that! He was part of the ensemble cast as a Mongol Soldier. This was his theater comeback after playing the role of Mark in the musical, RENT at San Beda College-Alabang in 2006. Ikaw na! ^^

Personally, I thought it would be better if minor roles do need a little more practice. It would be better to see them move in sync with each other. Hindi sabay-sabay minsan. I thought there are also a few weak placements like that of the sister (Princess Toragana) of the main character (Kogajin)her singing I find so so for an important role. I also expected more conflict in the story. George Yang's portrayal of Kublai Khan was also a bit painful to watch with a couple of dead air in the delivery of lines. Uncomfortable pauses if I may say.

It would have been better if it were a little more dark as it feels too safe. You don't feel much excitement in most part of the story. They also tried to infuse a little humor into it but I hardly heard the audience laugh.

Again, commendations to David Bianco as Marco Polo and Fil-Am West End actress Stephanie Rees and Pinky Marquez as Empress Wu for a job well done. If not for them, I wouldn't have enjoyed it. ^^


  1. Thanks so much Anton for your review and photo coverage of "Marco Polo"! I just saw this now. haha! Thanks for watching the show! Hope you had a great time. Thanks also for the backlinks. Appreciate it. :)


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