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Local singer tries Broadway for yearly fundraiser

by Lucille Nolasco

Paul OngWinnipeg singer, Paul Ong, is staging his annual fundraising concert live, this year. After doing a concert series via online for the last two years due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Paul has courageously pursued a live production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat set for March 16, 2022, with the help of friends, family, and volunteers.

Pilipino Express (PE) caught up with Paul in the middle of preparing for the production, in this interview.

PE: Congratulations! Your annual fundraising this year is back to live presentation, tell us about it.

Paul Ong: Yes, after two years of doing things virtually, we are so excited to be back and performing live. The last time we were able to do it was 2019 with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO).

This year, we are collaborating with Musical Theatre for Change, and will be performing selections from Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. We are set to go on stage March 16th, 7:00 p.m. at the Centennial Concert Hall in support of the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.

PE: How different is it from your previous productions?

Paul Ong: This year’s production is very different from our usual concert style format. We are doing an adaptation of a Broadway musical. We have a cast and crew of over 300 people who are all volunteering their time, talents, and skills for our cause this year. We will have a 200-piece show choir consisting of children in Grades 3 to 6 across the city, a live band with some members from the WSO to accompany us live, and a cast of 30 individuals. Another difference this year is that we are limiting live audiences to 250 seats to ensure that we can maintain proper distancing, and that health and safety is a priority. Regardless of the lifting of restrictions, we will keep the audience at 250.

PE: The pandemic is still here, what were the challenges that you needed to overcome to stage this production?

Paul Ong: Health and safety of the cast and crew, and the audience is the top priority. We ensure that we are adhering to safety protocols set out by the province. We are very conscious about distancing and safety protocols. We rehearse with masks on and always at a good distance from one another. At the initial stages, it was very hard to plan because we were unaware of where things will go, and how things will be. We are so happy and feel blessed that our show will be proceeding. Challenges are opportunities for us to be more resilient and creative. The pandemic has allowed us to appreciate things we had taken for granted. It has also pushed us to go beyond our comfort zones. When there is a will, there is always a way!

PE: Tell us about your beneficiary for this year. Why did you choose it?

Paul Ong: This year, we chose the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation-Pediatrics. The burden in the healthcare system is ongoing and has been elevated due to the pandemic. This year, we wanted to do it for children diagnosed with cancer. Cancer has affected the lives of several individuals and their families and friends. Children diagnosed with cancer deserve the best care, treatment, and research possible.

PE: How can people support the fundraiser?

Paul Ong: People can support through donating to our cause. All the seats to the live show is sold out. However, we have a web page set up with CancerCare specific to this event.

People can visit the link and donate directly. All donations $20 and above will receive a link to watch the video of the show, which will be taped during the live performance on March 16th.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the community for their support all these years. It is through the support and trust of the business sponsors, ticket buyers, media, volunteers, and the whole community that I can use my gifts in singing as a platform to make a positive difference in the community. It is my firm belief that music and the performing arts extend more than just providing entertainment. It is a platform to unite the community, inspire, empower, and make a positive difference. I am thankful that the community has given me this privilege.