|Tete-a-tete with Rex|
|The Widus Convention Center prior to the concert|
The highlight of our visit to Widus Resort & Casino was the concert, produced by Steve O'Neal Productions, of American film and Broadway actor, singer and frequent Manila visitor (this is his 8th visit) Rex Smith, part of his “Simply Rex” Asian Tour.
Fresh from a concert at cool Baguio City, Jandy and I and the rest of the media group caught up with him at the Widus Convention Center just as he was in the thick of preparations for his evening concert. He was casually dressed in a T-shirt and shorts.
Visibly tired from jetlag and his hectic schedule, the ever-gracious and friendly Rex still made time for a media interview, requesting that we just give him time to make himself more presentable to the media by changing to a long-sleeved shirt. However, the shorts remained. Rex is obviously fond of and has a soft spot in his heart for this country, narrating how surprised he was when our airport staff serenaded him with their own rendition of Rex’s 1979 Billboard Hot 100 hit “You Take My Breath Away.” Rex also told us that he is dedicating his 1979 hit song “Simply Jessie” to the late, much loved DILG Secretary Jesse M. Robredo.
|Rex practicing with his band|
Not many people know that Rex also invaded the world of Broadway musicals, playing Danny Zuko in Grease (John Travolta played the role in the movie version); Jesus Christ in Jesus Christ Superstar; Tony in West Side Story; Frederic in Pirates of Penzance (he won the 1981 Theater World Award for his role), playing opposite Linda Ronstadt (as Mabel) and Kevin Kline (as the Pirate King); Captain Von Trapp in Sound of Music; the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera and a host of other Broadway musicals.
In fact, no other Broadway actor has performed as many lead roles as Rex has. A number of songs from these Broadway plays will be sung by Rex during the concert.
Though not mentioned in his short interview with us, worth mentioning is this incident that happened in Canada in 1997. After performing in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway musical Sunset Boulevard, where he got the usual nightly standing ovation, he was greeted by a male fan who told him “Hello Rex, I’d like to have your autograph and pose for a picture with you. My name is Brandon, 21 years of age, and I’m a big fan. By the way, I’m also the son you never met.”
|The author with Rex and Jandy|
Rex Smith’s jaws dropped and, after a moment of silence, Rex recovered from the initial shock as he stared at Brandon and realized he was like looking at a mirror image of himself.
There was no doubt in his mind that this kid was his son. Brandon, who was born in 1980, was a product of a weekend affair Rex had with Karen Lakey, a record-company representative. Brandon joined Rex in his 2006 concert tour in the Philippines.
He is now married to a half-Filipina beauty queen from Vancouver, Canada and they have a son named Duchanan, Rex's first grandson. Another reason why Rex loves this country. He has also gone on vacation here, visiting Misibis Bay in Cagraray Island in Bacacay, Camarnes Norte, with his wife Tracy who enjoyed jetskiing there.
Widus Resort & Casino: 5400 Manuel A. Roxas Highway, Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga 2023. Tel: (045) 499-1000. Fax: (045) 499-0979.
Manila booking office: 2311 Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 V.A. Rufino corner Valero St., Salcedo Village, Makati City. Tel: (02) 840-1430. Fax: (02) 840-1429. Website: www.widus.com.