MARCO POLO: AN UNTOLD LOVE STORY

Saturday, February 01, 2014

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.

Rogelio Saldo Chua
Author, Composer and Lyricist

Synopsis

In 1271, Marco Polo joins his father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo on their return to Shangtu in faraway Cathay. They are on a mission for the Great Kublai Khan who rules an empire that stretched from the Danube to the Sea of Japan. During this time, there are internecine wars in the West among European potentates and, in the East conflicts among powerful Mongol warlords. But, the Polo caravan is resolute. Step by step, they continue courageously to trek the silk road toward their intended destination.

Act I of the musical recounts the voyage of Marco Polo from Venice to Central Asia and his encounter with Kogajin, the daughter of the Great Khan. They fall in love. However, Kogajin is a princess in the royal Mongol bloodline. Marco, on the other hand, is a foreigner and the son of an ordinary Venetian merchant. Act II brings us to Cathay and tells the story of Marco’s quest, amidst strong opposition from the ruling Mongol elite, to do all that is required of him to deserve Kogajin.

Will Marco and Kogajin succeed in their pursuit of true love? Is it destiny that controls everything or is it self-will? Is there truly a great divide between East and West? These are the overarching themes of Marco Polo, an Untold Love Story, a new musical.

About the Author, Lyricist and Composer

Rogelio Saldo Chua performed in lead and major roles in various musical productions including Oklahoma, South Pacific, Damn Yankees, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Fantasticks, Fiddler on the Roof, The Merry Widow, Sweeney Todd, My Fair Lady, Oliver and others in Manila. In addition to stage performances as actor and singer, his theater experience has been enriched by taking production roles as Director, Producer and Artistic Director. He obtained formal vocal training as a classical singer at the Leuven Conservatorium in Belgium. He is an avid traveler taking time to go the theater or the opera in cities where they have the best productions like New York, Chicago, Paris, London and Berlin. He currently sits in the board of various foundations that promote the performing arts in Manila. He considers the Philippines, the United States and Belgium as home.

The Lead Cast:

David Bianco: Marco Polo

David performed for the prestigious Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and for the Dangerous Ground Productions in New York City. He 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.

The Supporting Lead Cast:

Chinggoy Alonso (Rustigielo), Pinky Marquez (Empress Wu Ze-Lin), George Yang (Kublai Khan), Miguel Faustmann (Maffeo), Nicky Trivino (Toragana)

List of Songs:

1. Beyond the Mountains
2. Bukhara
3. Center of the Universe
4. Confucius Says
5. Duty and Sacrifice
6. Goddess of Destiny
7. I Choose You
8. Learn to be Wise
9. Long Live Marco Polo
10. Love and Sacrifice
11. Once I had a Love
12. My Only Love
13. Something in my Heart
14. Step by Step
15. This is Home for me
16. The Journey
17. The Royal Bloodline
18. What do I do
19. What is Love
20. What’s Nobler
21. What’s There
22. When I saw your face
23. When You Find your True Love
24. When I Gaze at the Moon
25. You will be, I will be

“Roger Chua’s Marco Polo: a Stupendous Surprise…the singing, acting, staging, lighting, dancing and direction - all these expressing Chua’s book, lyrics and music - rendered “Marco Polo” comparable to the best musicals I have seen here and abroad.” - Rosalinda Orosa, The Philippine Star, August 17, 2013.

Ticket Prices:

Inclusive of Service Charge

Price Zone 1 (Orchestra Center) - P1,563
Price Zone 2 (Orchestra Left & Right) - P1,042
Price Zone 3 (Loge) - P781.50
Price Zone 4 (Balcony) - P521

Meralco Theater is located at Ortigas Ave. cor. Meralco Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines.

For ticket inquiries, please call Ticketworld at (63 2) 891-9999.

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