Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Outside the Spotlight: Recreating first steps with Joaquin Pedro Valdes | Captured by Liz

Outside the Spotlight is brought to you by Captured by Liz in partnership with Pocket Size Theatre, this series of articles is sponsored by Pointe & Flex, a stylish and motivational stationery brand created for dancers, dance teachers and everything in between! From diaries to notebooks, pens to pencils, planners to action lists, Pointe & Flex are here to make sure you stay on top of everything so you can thrive in your industry. Click here to find out more.

We’re going back in time, as we take Joaquin’s first steps in London again. Up until theatres closed, he was part of the UK and International tour cast of The King and I in the ensemble, and first cover Lun Tha. In 2018, he joined the UK tour cast of Miss Saigon, covering the roles of The Engineer and Thuy - the job that brought him to the UK. He joined the tour in Manchester, and continued to travel around the country. 

“Getting that call from my agent was really a dream come true. In the Philippines, theatre is limited. There are productions happening, of course, but the West End and Broadway is just a different level.” Joaquin and his wife moved to the UK together, and in fact toured together. “It was amazing to be able to experience all these cities together. It brought us to places we never thought we’d go to!”

I ask why he chose the National Theatre/Old Vic/Waterloo area. “Obviously London and the West End are a special goal for performers. I was very grateful to be able to come to the UK and work in there here, but whenever we had a week off between tour stops, my wife and I would jump on a train and go to London. This area was actually the first one we ever visited in London. It was the first time we got here, we stayed in a place not too far from the Old Vic and just spent days walking around, exploring the area and the city - and just see shows! Wherever we go, we like to go to a theatre! In London, or when we were on tour!” We wander around the area that first introduced Joaquin to the London vibe, and it’s so lovely to see him and his wife point at shops or restaurants along the way “Remember, we ate there on that night”, “That’s where we stayed”!

“It still feels really special for us to be here.” Joaquin worked in theatre in the Philippines since he was eleven years old, but it’s hard to have a career in the field in his home country. He worked in advertising, but always went back to theatre as a form of escapism. “It was always my passion. Whenever I needed to recharge my batteries, I would go back to the theatre.” There is a lot of talent in the Philippines, but it still needs training, funding, and infrastructure. 

“I was not happy in my advertising job, and when the auditions for Miss Saigon first came around in 2016, I thought if I got that, this would be my chance, and my sign to commit to what I truly loved. I made it to the callbacks, but then didn’t get cast.” He confessed how not getting the job actually hit him hard, but also opened his eyes. “Not getting it, made me realise how much I had wanted it, and I decided to go all in.” He started applying did more productions in the Philippines, and started applying for drama schools in the UK. “I actually got a place in a quite big drama school, and started to get everything ready to start that new chapter - and then got Miss Saigon in 2018. 

Joaquin tells me an amazing story and fill circle moment with the show. “In 2017, I first went to New York with my wife. It was when Miss Saigon was playing on Broadway with Rachel Anne Go, so naturally we had to get tickets. Just seeing the show, on Broadway, felt surreal. A dream show. A dream city. I remember telling my wife ‘I can be that guy that rides the bike across the stage!’ Fast forward to the start of rehearsals in 2018. Guess what my track was?!” 

I absolutely love hearing about Joaquin’s journey, and his love for performing and theatre. He has another love though - food! “Lockdown first was really hard on me. You lose your routine, and I mentally went into holiday mode, and also into worrying mode. It took a bit, but now I have a routine that works for me. It’s all about your mindset, and when I managed to change that, opportunities started to pop up!”.

Joaquin has been busy sending off self-tapes for auditions, and over the summer he starred in Fanny & Stella at the Garden Theatre in London. “Of course I felt very lucky and grateful to be able to perform during this time! The show was such a gift! I’ve also been spending a lot of time working on skills like playing the ukulele, reading, baking, cooking. I’m perfecting my bread baking!” He and his wife like to go on long walks, on tour discovering new cities, or discovering their local London area. “We like some sweet treats! A great doughnut. A Victoria sponge!” They actually introduce me to their favourite stall in Borough Market. Guys, get a doughnut at It’s such a treat! 

Other than baked goods, what else have you enjoyed during this time? “We love Crime shows and True Crime Docs. Making a Murderer, Mindhunter, something that keeps us engaged! We’ve loved all the streamed concerts and theatre shows! There is so much content available to keep the theatre spirit alive. In fact, the Arts in general have been such a mood boost during this time. Music, books, TV, painting, singing, … the list is endless. I just can’t wait to be back in a theatre next to a stranger and witnessing some incredible performances!”

This article has been written by and photographed by Captured by Liz, published through Pocket Size Theatre. The article has been sponsored by Pointe & Flex Stationery.

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