A Story in Full

Chris­tine Al­lado


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.

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