SINGAPORE- She may have performed for American President Barack Obama and with iconic singers such as Michael Bolton. But Julia Abueva's dream had always been to perform on Broadway and the West End.
The 18-year-old's dream has come true.
Abueva, a Manila-born Singaporean, is set to be one of the actresses playing the lead role of Kim in the West End revival of the blockbuster musical Miss Saigon. It runs at the Prince Edward Theatre in London from next May.
Life! understands that she is likely to play the star role for two shows each week and will be a part of the musical's ensemble. The lead actress playing Kim, 17-year-old Filipino-American actress Eva Noblezada, will be performing in a majority of the shows. Miss Saigon, which premiered in 1989, is set during the Vietnam War and tells the tragic love story of an American soldier and a Vietnamese bar girl, Kim.
Abueva has been described by critics as a "prodigy" with a "golden voice".
Her audition process for Miss Saigon was nearly a year long. She first auditioned last November in Manila, submitted a video audition and later went to meet the creative team.
She was last seen on the Singapore stage in September, as part of the critically acclaimed musical Next To Normal, about a family wrestling with one member's mental illness, staged by home-grown theatre company Pangdemonium Productions.
The precocious Abueva, who started performing regularly to huge audiences about 10 years ago, has more than 10 musicals to her credit.
These include starring roles in Singapore musicals, such as Pangdemonium's Spring Awakening (2012), a Romeo and Juliet-esque love story wrestling with sexual awakening, and Toy Factory Productions' Sleepless Town (2009), a dark tale revolving around a teenager who is sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend.
Abueva has performed at the opening of the 23rd and 25th South East Asian Games, and was named by prominent American talk show host Oprah Winfrey as one of the World's Most Talented Kids. She has also taken the spotlight at the annual fund-raising concert ChildAid organised by Singapore Press Holdings.
She is the youngest of three children and moved to Singapore with her parents at the age of four, recently graduating from the Singapore American School. Her father does events management and her mother is a marketing manager.
Pangdemonium's co-artistic director Tracie Pang, who has directed Abueva in several shows, is thrilled for her.
She tells Life!: "It's been her dream for the last five years to (perform in Miss Saigon)... I was absolutely sure she was going to get it. What a great birthday present."
Abueva turned 18 on Tuesday. She is currently wrapping up a run of the stage musical Cinderella in the Philippines at Resorts World Manila, as one of the actresses playing the title role.
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