There is much to look forward to in the local theater scene with a school edition of the riveting musical “Miss Saigon” being under production and scheduled for a run in July. A summer program to train young local talents by exposing them to intensive sessions with local and international professionals was the personal passion project of director and theater teacher Allan Nazareno, who wishes to cultivate the local theater community.

“Seeing something I had imagined for years finally coming to life is a big thrill—and so that was the feeling I had when I saw the participants walking through the gates and showing their excitement towards the project,” said the Hong Kong-based Cebuano director. “Another thrill was also being in the room with plenty of young people who are passionate about musical theater. As a theater teacher, that kind of energy keeps me going.”

Nazareno chose “Miss Saigon” because it was one of the musicals that bonded him to his friends (known as the Garcia cousins).

“I’ve enjoyed jamming to the music of this show since the late ‘80s—before I migrated to Guam. Back then, I knew I had to direct this show in Cebu and so when the opportunity arose, I knew it was time.”

The first session started out with an orientation and getting-to-know activities with the cast and crew. It ended with a story conference—the run-through of the script and musical recordings. By the end of the session, the directors and instructors could see how immense the passion for performing arts burned in each of the students.

“I am truly impressed by the amount of talent that our Cebuano youth has. I’ve directed young people in Guam and in Hong Kong, but it is in Cebu that I have worked with young people whose talents and skills are mind-blowing,” exclaimed Nazareno as he shared how inspired he was by what he has seen.

However, he explained that there are still challenges faced by the Cebu theater scene: “The future of Cebu theater is still not too promising since very little theater is practiced and promoted on a regular basis in Cebu.”

Nazareno expounded that unless more quality licensed productions are able to feature Cebuano youth, musical theater in Cebu will not flourish.

“It would certainly take the concerted effort of producing companies, artists, sponsors and audiences to develop the culture of musical theater in Cebu.”

Cebu is a hotspot for talented performers with potential that just has to be nurtured through the community’s continuous support of local theater productions. “Miss Saigon School Edition” being done professionally and through proper practice (by obtaining the musical’s license as well as honing local artists’ skills) is one of the perfect examples of how to cultivate the future of Cebuano theater arts and culture.