“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — A Fil-Am doctor from Texas once told a group of sportswriters, including this writer, in Las Vegas that “it will take another 100 years before the Philippines can produce another Manny Pacquiao in boxing.”
In musical theater, let me say that 100 years are not enough for Iloilo City to produce another Jhett Tolentino.
Let me say further: thank God for giving Iloilo City and the Philippines Jhett Tolentino.
He is one of a kind. Unassuming and soft-spoken, Tolentino is one of the most intelligent Fil-Ams making waves in American entertainment world today.
If Michael Jordan is considered as the genius of basketball, Jhett Tolentino is the genius of musical theater.
Tolentino is God’s gift to the Philippines, now notorious for alleged state-directed EJKs (extra-judicial killings) involving drug pushers and addicts.
While Iloilo City is being battered by negative issues like “the most shabulized city in the Philippines” and “hometown of (the slain) drug lord Melvin “Boyet” Odicta Sr.”, New York City-based producer Tolentino restored the Ilonggo pride by clinching a Grammy award for Best Musical Theater for “The Color Purple” album in Hollywood on February 12, 2017.
The Iloilo-born artist shared the award with fellow producers Stephen Bray, Van Dean, Frank Filipetti, Roy Furman, Joan Raffe, and Scott Sanders; composers Brenda Russel and Allee Willis; and principal soloists Cynthia Erivo, Danielle Brooks, and Jennifer Hudson.
Tolentino’s victory was a titanic accomplishment by any producer born and raised in the Philippines.
No other Filipino producer in recent memory has achieved such international honor.
In fact, Tolentino became only the second Filipino to win a Tony’s award in Broadway next to Lea Salonga when he captured three trophies: the first in 2013 for “Vanya and Sonia and Marsha and Spike” which starred Sigourney Weaver; and the two in 2014 as one of the producers of “A Raisin in the Sun” and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”
A Raisin in the Sun,” which stars Denzel Washington, and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” respectively won Best Revival of a Play and Best Musical at the 68th Antoinette Perry (Tony) Awards held at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City on June 8, 2014.
Because of Tolentino’s extra-ordinary achievements in the global stage, he has become bigger than life that his name is now synonymous to world class.