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Her name is Lola

In Photo: Nyoy Volante as Lola in Kinky Boots; and TJ De la Paz

We’ve been seeing singer-actor Nyoy Volante on television quite frequently the past few months as one of the judges in a singing competition in a daily noontime show. We are happy that Volante is getting more and more exposure, and that his high level of musicality is getting noticed even more these days.

But what we’re really looking forward to is seeing Volante give spunk and spice to many an actor’s dream role of Lola in Kinky Boots, Tony- and Grammy-winning musical by the iconic Cyndi Lauper, which is set to surprise Manila theater aficionados very soon.

We remain witness to Volante’s growth as a musical artist since we first saw him during his student years at the College of Saint Benilde.  We clearly remember a bashful Volante with beautiful haunting vocals auditioning for the school production on the life story of Saint Bénilde Romancon, titled Big in God’s Eyes, eventually bagging the lead role.

The last time we saw and raved about Volante was during the Manila production of  Jersey Boys, where he effortlessly captivated the audience with his high level of musicality, acting chops and arresting stage presence as Frankie Valli.

Volante seems to be a favorite of Bobby Garcia’s Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group, and we’re not surprised. Aside from his high level of sincerity and competence as a live performer, Volante’s amiable personality certainly makes his coactors and everyone in the production like him.

Last year Volante married actress Mikki Bradshaw, and the couple is starting to build their family one step at a time. “Married life inspires me,” he once told us, “and I’m happy that I am able to mix my singing gigs and acting passion, and blend these with my personal life”. For the Manila staging of  Kinky Boots, Volante will share the stage with one of our favorite new actors, Laurence Mossman, who did very well in the Asian premiere of  Fun Home. Mossman will take on the role of Charlie Price.

In a nutshell, Kinky Boots is about a man (Price) who inherited his dad’s shoe factory, which is already on the verge of  bankruptcy. Price runs to Lola, a fierce and fabulous entertainer who is in constant search for sturdy stilettos she can use when she performs.  Life brings them together as both try to discover more things about each other.

Kinky Boots has been recognized with six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and it features the wonderful score and music of Cyndi Lauper from the libretto of the much respected Harvey Fierstein.

Get ready for it, Manila!

His time will come

TJ de la Paz is happy to bag a good role in the upcoming Lenten drama special of CBN Asia, scheduled to air on the ABS-CBN channel during the local observance of Holy Week.

Directed by Icko Gonzales, the drama special, titled In My Father’s Arms, features Jodi Santamaria in the lead role as the daughter who blames herself for the tragedy that befell her family.  De la Paz plays the loyal childhood friend of Santamaria, who stood by her through thick and thin, never expressing the love he knew would simply be unrequited.

“I’m just so thankful to be given this opportunity to work on this project,” he enthused, adding that “the experience made me think about what truly matters in life”. De la Paz also shared that working with Santamaria  was an unforgettable experience.  “Jodi is a real beauty inside out. She is simple yet sophisticated, and what you see is what you get. The big  star that she is, she warms up to her coactors and makes us feel at ease. After our first day of work, it felt like I’ve already known her for some time. She is very sensible, very warm and very generous as an actor.”

The twentysomething actor has made his mark in many TV commercials, but his most popular exposure came via the Smart viral video “Inaccept Na Kita”, about a military dad who has long accepted his son’s sexual orientation even before he came out to him.

“That video was a major turning point in my career as a commercial talent. It was a brave one that was brilliantly executed. The video also opened up a lot of doors for me, and I really hope that I can penetrate the local drama series of the big networks,” he said.

An only son, de la Paz says his mother is his constant inspiration. “She’s my anchor. Her happiness and her welfare are my utmost priorities. She wishes that I would be able to successfully cross over from commercials to acting on TV and film. That’s why I’m grateful for CBN Asia for this Holy Week drama special. Who knows, some network executive might be watching and take fancy on a relatively unknown actor like me.” Aside from Santamaria, de la Paz also had the chance to work with comebacking actors Anna Marin and Bimbo Bautista in this heart-wrenching story.

While waiting for his big acting break, de la Paz works out in the gym to keep fit, and engages in sports like basketball, biking and mountain climbing. He also helps in the business of his mom, who owns and manages a security agency.

“I’m a patient person. I believe in hard work and fair play. I also believe in destiny. All it takes is one good role and one good project. I hope that break comes soon.”

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