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Violi Calvert could not believe her luck when she visited New York City recently. Someone picked up a ticket for her to one of the Broadway shows without her knowing that the star is Filipino Australian MiG Ayesa. Following is her account of her impressions of MiG who is literally rocking Broadway in “Rock of Ages.”
I always relish a visit to New York, one of my favourite cities in the USA. And of course a visit to NYC is not complete without going to a Broadway show! Recently an enjoyable week in Maine was followed by a few days in NYC. Our good friend’s son booked us to watch “Rock of Ages”.
All I knew was that the show revolves around the music of the 80’s and the big hair bands. I really could not believe my luck that Kevin picked RoA for us.
While waiting for the show to start, I was reading the Playbill and got excited to see that a Filipino-Australian is in the cast!! This is none other than MiG Ayesa!!
Some of you may already be familiar with MiG, but for those who may not be, here follows a brief background about him gleaned from his website and a literature scan. MiG is Miguel Alfonso Ramon Legarda Ayesa who was born in Manila, Philippines and grew up in Sydney.
His heritage is a mixture of three-quarter Spanish on his mother’s side and a quarter with Ilonggo both on his mother’s and father’s families.
MiG studied in St Patrick’s College in Strathfield. Thereafter he attended Macquarie University studying communications but had to put completing it on hold to accept the role of Ritchie Valens in the Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story which was taken on tour all across Australia.
This was followed by more performances in theatres, television series, commercials and film. He was also involved in a number of bands such as Randy Badass and the Slickmaster Five, Lovetown, The Honkies and The Riva Band.
MiG moved to London in 2002 after he married dancer/actress Simone De La Rue. Among the other things he got involved in was playing the character of Galileo Figaro in the musical “We Will Rock You” which is based on the band ‘Queen’ story and also in “Rent” playing the role of Angel.
MiG was also a competitor of “Rock Star: INXS” a CBS tv series to be the new lead singer of INXS. He received third place in this world-wide competition. Soon after he was signed up by Decca/Universal Music Group and his self-titled debut CD was released in the USA, Canada, Australia, Phillippines and New Zealand in 2007.
Despite his busy schedule, in 2009 MiG launched the ‘call to arms’ Global Campaign UNITED AS ONE, helping raise awareness and desperately needed funds to the people of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Ondoy.
In January 2010 MiG made his Broadway debut in “Burn the Floor”, as well as in the months thereafter touring with the show to Australia, Japan, Korea, Canada, and USA. In September 2010 MiG went on the road with “Rock of Ages the US Tour”, playing the role of ‘Stacee Jaxx’ for the musical tour across the country. Then in March 2011 MiG returns to Broadway to reprise his role of ‘Stacee Jaxx’ in RoA for the show’s reopening at the Helen Hayes Theatre.
In between doing ROA, MiG is also in the stage of finalising a follow up cd to be released soon.
As the curtain opened to the stage flooded with blinding lights and a band dishing out metal type music at almost deafening intensity, I was not sure how I’d endure it to the finish. Then as the story line developed, set in the late 1980’s in the infamous Bourbon Club on the Sunset Strip, I was into it. I joined the journey of a small town girl meeting a big city rocker in L.A.’s infamous rock club. Their love story is told through the music of Journey, Bon Jovi, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, and other artists I was not familiar with. By the time the cast got together on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” everyone’s inner rocker self connected with the show.
MiG was amazing in his role as the front man of metal band ‘Arsenal’. His performance especially of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” showcases not only his singing prowess but also high level of fitness and energy on stage. His sexual appeal was very apparent as his character gets to flash his six pack in a number of scenes, much to the delight of both women and men in the audience.
During the intermission, a number of people at the front row was on their feet jigging, clapping and singing along the songs they have just heard. This happy atmosphere carried through to the end of the show.
I was not able to stay on after the show to try meet MiG when the cast was supposed to meet the audience.
I felt proud of the achievements of this talented Filipino-Australian and felt compelled to share information or an update on him. It is great that despite his tight schedule, MiG agreed to do an interview by email and answer a few questions about him. It is my pleasure to share his responses with you.
VC: I know you are married to Simone and whom you acknowledged on the Playbill. If okay, please tell us something about her. Do you have children now? If so, are they also musically inclined?
MiG: My wife Simone is also a performer. She is actually a trained ballerina, and has performed as a dancer/actor in many productions all around the world, from Australia, to Asia, to Europe, London’s West End and was even on Broadway in NYC with PROMISES PROMISES. She wouldn’t call herself a singer, but I love it when she does. She is working on her own business now and is happy to continue working on that rather than performing, and she is totally killing it! Her business is blowing up. We do not have any children yet, except for our little Maltese Terrier who we treat like our daughter. Unfortunately, she does not have a musical bone in her tiny body.
VC: Any of your family members also in the performing arts?
MiG: No. They are all too smart for that. They have real jobs.
VC: What difficulties have you encountered, if any, in establishing yourself in your career and in Broadway?
MiG: Oh I have had MANY difficulties in establishing my career, that I do not know where to begin. I am still trying to break down obstacles in my way! Things were really quite smooth for a while. I always seemed to land great jobs. When we moved to London, it seemed like the planets were all in alignment and I went from one great job to another. It was no surprise to me that I was accepted to join ROCKSTAR:INXS. it just seemed to be the natural flow. Then suddenly after ROCKSTAR, things started to get tough. I struggled so hard to keep my dreams of being a recording artist alive after the show, but obstacles beyond my control kept me from fully realizing the full potential of what was once a promising career. I spent the next few years trying to fan the embers of what faith in myself I had left, and tried my hand at many jobs, from set dressing to playing piano bars.
I found it hard to get a job on Broadway when we moved here. Every job I got was either a touring show that took me away from the city or a show that never got off the ground. I also got to New York when the financial crisis hit, when many shows closed and so many more performers were out of work than ever before. It didn’t seem to matter that I had played lead roles all over the world. I was a rookie to New York, and so many New Yorkers were ahead of me in the line when jobs were on offer. It was almost when I was about to give up that I finally scored my first Broadway show with BURN THE FLOOR. That show and the subsequent tour gave me the kick up the bum I needed to believe in myself again and it was at this point I won the role of ‘Stacee Jaxx’ in ROCK OF AGES. I have continued to be blessed since then, and have learned that just when you feel you have nothing left, you must never give up. You have to pay your dues here in New York. I truly felt like I have paid them a hundred fold and am honoured to now be a part of the Broadway community.
VC: Do you know other Filipino artists in Broadway and do you socialise with them [ie Lea Salonga, Jose Llana, etc.]?
MiG: I actually met J. Elaine Marcos (PRISCILLA) when she was working with my friend in A CHORUS LINE. I am a fan of TV Carpio (SPIDERMAN) ever since seeing her in ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, but not have met her. Robert Tatad was our resident choreographer on ROCK OF AGES and see him from time to time. I actually do know Lea Salonga and know she is in NY right now doing a workshop for a new musical, but our schedules have not allowed us to catch up yet. I have heard of Jose Llana but have not met. To be honest, I don’t really get much chance to socialize with anyone other than my close friends and family as my schedule is kind of ridiculous right now.
VC: Is there a time frame for “Rock of Ages” to finish in Broadway?
MiG: I think they will try to keep ROCK OF AGES on Broadway for at least until next summer 2012, when they will release the movie. I then think the movie will regenerate interest in the show and will keep it open for years to come. I am having such a great time on this show, I wish I could do this show for as long as I am able to.
VC: Where do you see yourself or what you hope to achieve in 5 years? in 10 years?
MiG: In 5 years, I hope to be a Dad, with a few successful records and a wealth of Broadway and film/TV credits under my belt. I also hope to have started a successful post-production/soundtrack studio. In 10 years, I hope to be a successful music producer, film composer, be the owner of my own record label and a partner in my wife’s ever expanding business empire.
VC: What advice can you offer to Filipinos who are just starting off in their music/performing career?
MiG: If I can do it at this level, anyone can. Everyone will try to dissuade you from continuing and succeeding. Only you can dictate when it is time to quit. So don’t listen to anyone other than your own heart. You are unique and special. Work hard, believe a lot and don’t take things personally. This is a full-time job. You will work on this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for being a performer is no longer what you do, it’s what you are.
If you are NYC bound, make sure you get to watch this Filipino-Australian dynamo as he rocks Broadway; tell your family and friends about him as well.
I wish him more success as he continues to soar and blast the atmosphere like a MiG aircraft!
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Violi Calvert is a freelance writer; Media & PR for Australian Handball Federation and Media & PR for Nenad Bach Music [Australia & Asia].