THRILLMAKER: Ushering in 2021 with a grand countdown…virtually

Published December 20, 2020, 7:34 AM

by Joee Guilas

The country’s pioneer integrated resort, Resorts World Manila, is ushering in the new year with yet another first: a big scale, big venue live concert wholly-presented in the virtual plane. To be mounted and staged at the world-class Newport Performing Arts Theatre, the show, dubbed The Grand Countdown to 2021, will be streaming live to remote audiences on December 31, 2020.

Top-billed by Asia’s Phoenix Morissette, the stellar cast of power vocalists include Jed Madela, Jona and funnyman Jon Santos. Known stage personalities Jon Joven and Nicole Laurel Asensio will host the event being produced by Full House Theater Company (FHTC).

For several years now, Resorts World Manila (RWM) has prided itself for putting together some of the most memorable year-end countdowns, bringing in the country’s best and brightest performing artists and the thrills and excitement of winning fabulous prizes in one big extravaganza. President and Chief Executive Officer Kingson Sian says: “This is our way of ensuring that our patrons and guests start their year on happy, lucky note.”

Now this “brave” venture, at this time of the pandemic, hopes to do more than just that.

“We hope that others will soon take our lead and mount similar projects after this show in order for us to bring life back to the entertainment industry. We want our artists to have more jobs as well as venues to showcase their talents once again,” Sian adds.

Appropriately carrying the sub-title “New Year, New Hope, New Thrills,” the show is touted to give entertainment audiences a feel of what’s to come under the so-called “New Normal,” when the threat of the coronavirus becomes more manageable. With more shows expected to take advantage of available virtual platforms, post-pandemic live entertainment is seen to make concerts and other stage performances even more accessible to the public.

“Live streaming makes this countdown even more intimate as we will now be performing to people who will be in their homes, having their family dinners, and celebrating Christmas together,” reasons Jed Madela in a recent promotional guesting he did in yet another virtual media event.

Despite this new exciting development, other artists still long for the energy of having to face a live audience, which, until now, is being prohibited under the government’s prevailing quarantine restrictions.

Julia Serad, an up-and-coming artist, who will also be performing in the countdown together with her fellow L.O.V.E Project artists says: “Of course, as artists, we still miss performing before a live audience but this is the best option for now and that’s why we are assuring audiences that we will still bring them great entertainment wherever they may view us from.”

The L.O.V.E. Project (or the Live On-request Virtual Entertainment Project) is an online booking platform that allows artists to continue performing and earning from their craft after the pandemic put almost all entertainment activities to a halt, leaving them with very little source of livelihood.

Serad agrees that going online is the way to go while artists are waiting for things to go back to “normal.”

“I’d say my earnings from online musical bookings have significantly increased my monthly earnings compared to when I had regular live gigs on stage,” she confesses.

Just like other shows that are accessible online, getting an access to view The Grand Countdown to 2021 may also be done through the online ticket booking site

And yes, more than the amazing performances, and in true Resorts World Manila Grand Countdown fashion, virtual concert goers may still win big surprises during the show.

The good news is: Prizes to be given away are real, and not virtual.