A Story in Full
Filipina West End actress Christine Allado doesn’t believe in pure luck. Yes, getting cast in the West End run of the Broadway hit Hamilton is a lucky break, a start for getting her name on the map. She’ll tell you a slightly different version of how she got that break, however: “It was a long time coming. You say luck but [I say] it’s about working hard, being at the right place at the right time, and never stopping.” Her story did not begin with the curtain rise, either. “I have been on this career path since I was 14. I grew up in a family of musicians, so I guess I started singing when I was a fetus,” Allado jokes.
Her story isn’t of someone chasing a passion blindly. While she was in college, Allado, then a business administration student, got the chance to work in Hong Kong, which prompted her to take an academic break. “I told my dad I would come back.” She eventually moved to London, leaving behind good grades and an arguably more practical career path. “I was top four in a class of 500,” she notes. “I even got a scholarship.” What she risked for the chance to sing on stage wasn’t for nothing.
Allado wasn’t an overnight success; she slowly built her career, by becoming a theater regular. “I’m a West End Wendy,” she says, with a slight accent gained from years of living in the UK. Recognition first came when she starred as Vanessa in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning In the Heights. Work soon became entwined with life and Allado happily says she’s looking to buy a home in London. She’s in it for the long haul, with an investment to boot.
While success took its time coming, her story breaks away from the usual portrait of an artist: there were no hungry nights, no sad stories of struggling for art’s sake. What Allado always had is a practical approach to the stage. Despite the cheery songs, the dance numbers, the eye- catching costumes, and the imaginary story lines, it’s still a business to her that must be approached with the discipline of a professional. “My parents taught me to be practical and to approach each day with the proper work ethic.” She quips, however, that she’s not as perfect as she desires. “A friend once commented how I am the laziest go-getter. I know that’s a paradox, but there are days when I just stay home,” she says. “But when it comes to working and rehearsals, I always put in the hours.” This is why she maintains that success is always more than just luck. As the old adage goes, luck is for those who make it.
Allado’s old promise to her parents to come back eventually happened. Eight years after she had left, she comes home now accompanied with a part in Hamilton and a busy schedule, as rehearsals are set for September. “I have been overwhelmed by the support and the love that everyone has shown me,” she says. This trip was supposed to include a vacation to Boracay, but it has transformed into Allado stopping every so often to share her journey to a wanting audience. There is a certain surprise in the way she notes how everyone she’s met is proud of her.
Her story, as of the moment, is how a woman who sings about fairy tales is also living her own fairy tale. Performing at the Royal Albert Hall, at Trafalgar Square, and doing a duet with Andrea Bocelli (one of the most nerve-wracking points of her career, she claims) are achievements Allado didn’t see herself doing when she was seven. “When I first got the part in In The Heights and Broadway World first interviewed me, I literally said that it feels like a fairy tale.”
It’s a bit ironic that despite having music in her bones and the early promise of her talent and the possibilities that came with it, Allado didn’t foresee where singing could take her—and especially not fame. It’s
common for artists to claim that they never got into the business because of it, that the pursuit is about being able to do what they love the most, and in Allado’s case, it’s not a disingenuous statement. “When I was younger, I was a Disney baby,” she admits. “I used to sing Part of Your World. It sounds cheesy but that song for me was how it all started. I wanted to be part of this world.”
To the question of what the world looks like from where she’s standing, Allado says, “I don’t know where [I’ll be] going. Obviously [performing at West End] is not going to be forever, but it’s still too early to see where it will go. I won’t stop, though.” The best moments for her, aside from performing? “I get to visit cities because of my work, and that already feels like a vacation. The best place I’ve been to is Formentera, which is the virgin counterpart of Ibiza.” How is Lin-Manuel Miranda in person? “He’s the nicest and most hardworking person you would meet in theater.” Has she ever been starstruck? “I met Tom Hiddleston. I didn’t know what to do at first. I took a photo and he started a conversation. I’ve also met Benedict Cumberbatch.” It’s definitely not a bad view from where she is.
Allado looks forward to bigger things not just for herself but also for theater worldwide. Hamilton, for example, comes at a crucial time: a time to review history in the light of the alt-right/Neo-Nazi movement and continuing issues of institutionalized discrimination. “Theater practices colorblind casting a little bit more so I hope Hollywood gets to catch up,” she says, adding that she had dealt with getting rejected for certain roles due to the color of her skin.
She’s past those rejections, of course, with so many other things to focus on; she tells people good-bye, “See you in London.” Allado has witnessed how theater can captivate people, and of its importance in the digital world, she says, “Nothing will ever compare to live theater. It was one of the first ways we entertained and kept ourselves occupied, and it will never go away.” It’s a lot like how she describes her life at present: “Being there in the theater and watching something with your own eyes... it’s magical.”
Dress, Alice McCall, LCP; earrings, Whisenhunt, Cura V, Power Plant Mall.