Singer and actor Christine Bunuan, whose talents have been seen from Writers' Theatre's stage in Glencoe to Oakbrook's Drury Lane Theatre, is combining her musical talents, heritage, and love of the Christmas season in her world-premiere show, "Christmas at Christine's."
Bunuan's parents immigrated from the Phillipines, and she grew up in a household that combined Filipino Christmas traditions with American values. "Christmas at Christine's" offers a chance for her to combine song and storytelling to create a holiday musical revue for the whole family.
Christine, who played Jasmine in the musical "Aladdin" at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire and was seen on Broadway in Chicago's production of the musical "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," says she has always wanted to work on an original piece that was "personal, heartfelt and fun." She invites audiences into her world and shares a lifetime of touching holiday memories, from stories about seeing her husband perform in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to a time when she had to celebrate Christmas in Florida while on tour.
"I was inspired to write this musical revue to honor the people in my life whose backgrounds and cultures have helped shape so much of my life," she says of her upcoming world-premiere. "Christmas at Christine's" presents her with a chance to share that heritage with an audience, connecting tales of her travels from California to the Philippines and Chicago with a wide array of favorites from the holiday songbook.
These songs are cast in a new light thanks to the life lessons Christine shares along her journey, universalizing her experiences. At a first rehearsal recently, many members of the production team teared up as they themselves remembered their loved ones and holiday traditions.
She explains that her visits to the Philippines "enriched my life" and inspired her to dig deeper into her own heritage. Bunuan's own holiday traditions developed further upon meeting and marrying her husband, a Jewish man. She now affectionately refers to herself as a "Christmas Jew," someone who celebrates Hanukkah as well as Christmas, in keeping with her new family's traditions.
Christine's hope is to spread a message of love through her own yuletide memories. To her, music is a vital way to achieve this. "Music is a huge part of my life," she says. "It's a different way of expressing yourself." The inclusion of holiday standards, love songs, and even some familiar tunes from Broadway allow her to deepen her connection with audiences.
"It's fun to get stuff, but what I really like is figuring out what I can give," Christine says. To her, "Christmas at Christine's," which will premiere at Silk Road Rising in Chicago on December 1st and run through December 23rd, is her gift to audiences this holiday season. "I want to invite people into my home to have a fun time and enjoy being together." Tickets and more information available at www.SilkRoadChristmas.org
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