To prepare Esang for the auditions, Lea needed less than an hour to train the talented young singer. The training was not just about technical prowess, but more importantly, it was about giving every single note soul and emotion. “Coach Lea told me to always sing with my heart and to use my imagination every time I was performing. Little Cosette is a neglected child, so I must imagine that I was being mistreated,” recalls Esang in Filipino. She got the role of young Cosette in the next day’s auditions, and the country’s youngest concert performer was ecstatic. “When I first heard that I was going
The line “to love another person is to see the face of God” also holds special meaning to the gifted Esang. to be in Les Misérables I was so excited, very happy and very thankful,” relates Esang. Together with fellow Filipino thespian Rachelle Ann Go and others, Esang flew to Singapore, where she did not feel strange in her new surroundings at all because she had already performed with some of the Les Miz cast during the musical’s Manila run. “It was so much fun working with the cast and crew because they were so welcoming and they were very kind and warm. They were also very professional,” she says.
She was also not afraid to consult the grown-ups, because they assured her it was okay to ask about any problem that crops up. They were definitely one big happy family and Esang was glad to have been a part of it. “It was true what they said to me, ‘Welcome to Les Misérables family,’ because that was exactly what I felt when I was with the cast and I thank them for that.” Rachelle Ann, who plays Fantine, Cosette’s young mom, helped in particular to assuage the girl’s fears, especially before the child would go on the stage. “Rachelle Ann just told to me to relax and not to worry about being nervous. She said to consider the stage as my big playground. She also told me that I should always be at my best. It helped me a lot!” says Esang. That advice, plus Esang’s natural vivacity, helped her to own the stage every performance night. “Before the show, I always got nervous, but once I started sweeping the floor (as the orphaned Cosette), it relaxed me. And when I began to sing, I forgot my fear.” When Esang would belt out “Castle on a Cloud,” she would sing her heart out, lost in a world of love and acceptance, so unlike the one her character lives in. Meanwhile, the rousing “Master of the House” and the show’s touching finale number were Esang’s favorites. The line “to love another person is to see the face of God” also holds special meaning to the gifted Esang. It keeps her well grounded and reminds her that her talent comes from an all-loving God. It also calls to mind the value of humility which Lea instilled in Esang
Rachelle Ann just told to me to relax and not to worry about being nervous. before she flew to Singapore. “Coach Lea told me to be humble, to always be good, and do everything the director asked me to do. She told me I must love what I’m doing, to use breathing techniques and then break a leg!” Yes, Esang is growing into a commanding performer who stands poised to become one of the country’s next big stage names, and she is grateful for the many things she has learned from Les Misérables. “Discipline is number one. I also have a new style of vocalization which I think improves my voice a lot. I have also been able to improve my acting as well because it was my first time to act in a theater. It has given me confidence and I’m a much more confident performer now.” Now back in Manila, Esang still feels sad recalling the end of the Singapore production last July, almost two months after it opened. But the fourth grader knows she must move on and focus on her studies and recording career. Her album, Esang, Ako Ay Kakanta is out in the market, and she is helping promote it. With the exciting developments in her singing career, Esang’s optimism naturally remains high as she continues to look to tomorrow with high expectations. “Hopefully, I’ll audition again for another play. Maybe next time, I’ll audition for Les Misérables again!” And knowing her talent, humility, and willingness to listen and learn, it’s not too hard to imagine her once more performing and shining on the stage—a bigger one with a bigger audience— someday soon. FM
September-November 2016 | FamilyMatters