Gantimpala Theater's "Sino Ka Ba Jose Rizal?" Sept 3-Oct 15, 2011

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Announcement from Gantimpala Theater

Gantimpala Theater’s "Sino ka ba Jose Rizal?” features TV singers Gerald Santos and RJ Jimenez

Gantimpala Theater artistic director Tony Espejo has announced the company's first touring production for its 34th season: the musical "Sino Ka Ba Jose Rizal?," produced in cooperation with Musical Theater Philippines.

“It is fitting to stage this musical now," says Espejo. "We can learn so much from his history, most especially the great relationships he had with his mother Doña Teodora, brother Paciano, and sisters; his devotion to the academe and the ardor for the written word; the romances that added color to his years and the nationalistic fervor he had for the country and how he stirred the consciousness of his fellowmen through his novels 'Noli Me Tangere' and 'El Filibusterismo.'"

“Gerald Santos and RJ Jimenez will alternately portray the role of our national hero. We are very fortunate that two of the country’s finest singers are playing the lead. Balladeer Gerald Santos is visceral in his portrayal while acoustic RJ Jimenez invests a lot of refreshing emotions in his interpretation.”

Who the singers are
Gerald Santos
Santos first gained prominence as the second season (2006) grand winner of  GMA 7's "Pinoy Pop Superstar." His covers of “Hanggang” and “Kahit Isang Saglit” have gained popularity.

“Being part of a theater production is like attending a performing arts class,” says the theater first timer. “Every day there is something new to learn, from memorizing your lines and blockings.  There is also the choreography and songs you must remember. There is something so vibrant about the dynamics of theater actors. Lahat sila disiplinado. At sobra silang matilungin sa katulad kong baguhan sa teatro.”

“I did a lot of research, read materials about Rizal,” says the singer who is now a TV 5 talent.  “This musical made me realize how much Rizal loved our country and his countrymen. We must continue to keep his legacy burning knowing the fact that the problems that were evident during his times persist.”

RJ Jimenez
Jimenez is a former scholar of ABS-CBN's "Pinoy Dream Academy" and is the voice of the hit song "Miss Kita Pag Tuesday."

The guitarist and singer says, “I am thankful to our vocal coach Agnes Barredo because she was able to teach me techniques on how to properly use my voice. Playing Rizal is emotionally taxing, all the emotions due to the conflicts of his life are very new to me.”

“We can all follow Rizal's footsteps. True, they are such big shoes to fill nevertheless, we must really do something for our country. Bayan natin ito. Dapat magtulong-tulong tayo para mas maging masagana at maligaya ang buhay nating lahat.”

The musical's synopsis and provenance
This musical follows Rizal’s childhood in Calamba, Laguna; his leaving behind his childhood sweetheart Leonor Rivera to study in Spain; his relationship with Josephine Bracken during his exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte;  up to his death in Bagumbayan.

"Sino Ka Ba Rizal" was first staged in 1998 by Music Theatre Philippines (then known as Musicat). The original cast featured Ogie Alcasid as Jose Rizal, Mikee Cojuangco as Leonor Rivera and Rachel Alejandro as Josephine Bracken.

Collaborators and cast
TV actress Kathleen Hermosa as Josephine Bracken
Ellrica Laguardia as Leonor Rivera
Ronald Concepcion as Paciano
Kakai Bautista as Neneng, Rizal’s sister and O-sei-san, his Japanese girlfriend

Nonoy Gallardo (music and libretto based on the book by Rene Villanueva)
Joey Nombres (lights designer)
Eric Cruz (set designer)
Raul Nepomuceno Jr. (choreographer)

Performances are on 
September 3, 10am/2pm,
EXPO Filipino, Pampanga;

September 23, 10am/2pm,
Ynares Gym, Antipolo

October 14-15, 10am/2pm,
AFP Theater in Quezon City.

Contact 899-59-11/998-5622.
Visit or

What do you think of this production?  Share your comments.

Theaterbatoring "Sweet Charity" and "Noli Me Tangere"

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A few months ago, I was able to write about Tanghalang Pilipino's line-up for its 2011-2012 season.  I recently caught its season opener "Noli Me Tangere" a week or two after I caught 9 Works Theatrical's "Sweet Charity."

thoughts on "sweet charity" and "noli me tangere"
by walter ang
aug 30, 2011

i caught 9 works theatrical's "sweet charity" and tanghalang pilipino's staging of the lumbera-cayabyab musical "noli me tangere."  i don't normally do combo-reviews, that is, talking about wo or more shows in one piece, but what the hey, it's interesting to me that both materials have strange(!) plot structures and auteur-ish (hmm!) provenance. whaaat?

sweet charity
this was my first 9 works theatrical production.  it was a fun show. the plot was weird in that the entire first act seemed like a throwaway, what with charity's one-night encounter with a film-star that didn't really make any sense, that didn't really push the story forward anyway, and that just made the first act seem to drag on forever.

one assumes that, given the provenance of this musical (as wikipedia puts it "conceived, directed and choreographed by bob fosse"), the plot, as stringy as it is, is most likely there just to frame the dance numbers. (auteur alert!)

what was good to see was that, despite this weird plot structure, the cast was game.

nikki gil was a sprightly, winsome charity; what vitamins does she take? she's got stamina, this one. she's singing and dancing onstage almost the entire two hours of the production! gil has already made her stamp as a musical leading lady after her turn as elle woods in atlantis production's 2009 staging of "legally blonde." and yes, she's got the looks and charisma for it.

and while her turn as charity showcases even more of her skills, a bit of her elle woods would creep up once in a while.  someone should cast her in a dramatic musical role to stretch and further hone her acting muscles. something tragic with lots of repressed longing, maybe like fosca in sondheim's "passion."

kris lawrence was as a surprise as oliver lindquist (he's got comedic timing, who knew?); oj mariano had presence (and not just because he towers over everyone else, he can sing, this one).

ciara sotto-ocaner as helene was a revelation.  she's hilarious!  her screeching, high-volume voice initially grated on the ears, until you realize she's taken her role and just flew with it.  she played a palengkerang talakera and she wanted you to know it.  when she does a split onstage in the second act; it's hokey, yes; but also so in character that you just have to cheer her on.

some of the sets were a bit too far upstage, like when charity and oscar were stuck in an elevator, and later, in a ferris wheel.

dance numbers
and the dance numbers are fun, all things considered.  the dancing is almost there. this is bob fossey choreography, and you can tell that the cast aren't trained dancers, nonetheless, they power through the pieces.

the rich man's frug number was fun and scary. fun because of the mod costumes, of seeing fossey choreography onstage, of the groovy music; scary because of the varying heights of the cast and the paunches!

okay, i'm all for color-blind and height-blind casting, these are things that can be worked out with some judicious blocking.  but with this number, you have proof that paunch-blind casting does not always work onstage. a quick google search reveals a youtube clip from the movie version and i'm glad to see the local production didn't copy the costumes from the movie; however, for this particular dance number, perhaps coats on the men might have given a better silhouette, given the lines of the choreography. either that or spanx for men might be in order.

let's point out right away that we are not being overly critical here of the human bodies we see onstage--after all, some sense of physical uniformity for the ensemble is still paramount in creating pictures on stage. nonetheless, for this particular production, it is these human "flaws" and complicit acceptance that this isn't an exact fosse clone that seem to help create an endearing show.

noli me tangere
ordinarily, i wouldn't mention previous stagings of a show because there is always an internal goal to appreciate, digest, assess and evaluate a show on its own merits. more so in this case since i've not seen any of them anyway, but then, there have been publicity materials, media interviews and director's notes that talk of audie gemora's stripped-down, straightforward staging of the material versus nonon padilla's symbolism-filled, stylized staging. (auteur alert!)

the die is cast! the assumption is that this staging has been crafted from the very beginning with an intertwined reaction of sorts, an "anti-direction" in relation to a previous direction.  it becomes part of the audience gaze (for those of us who read the programme notes, at least, kekeke) to compare this staging with an unseen "symbolism-filled" staging.  it's like trying to not think of a pink elephant with a polka-dot bowtie!

[and maybe a whole generation of audiences have no idea who nonon padilla is anymore since he's not staged anything in years save for the 2009 staging of peta's "saan ba tayo ihahatid ng disyembre," but i saw many of his productions for tp in the late 90s and early 00s. and i've seen his staging of "fili" (those giant clock gears!). so, yes, padilla as auteur of the lumbera-cayabyab rizal-novels musicals is sorta kinda ingrained in my brain, and therefore, part of my gaze, kekeke.]

singing, lighting
all the actors sang beautifully. especially the classically-trained singers like al gatmaitan (padre salvi), red nuestro (kapitan tiago) and ring antonio (doña victorina).

katsch katoy had some beautifully rendered lighting schemes.

the plot
the plot is weird in the sense that the structure of the book* is also weird. the book has these action-filled chapters mixed up with chapters that are for pure contemplation of rizal's ideas, metaphors and symbolisms.

(*yes, i've been reading the book, kekeke. as part of my personal participation in the 150th birth anniversary of rizal's birth, i've been trying to plow through the lacson-locsin english translations of "noli" and "fili." i wanted to finish "noli" before i saw this production, but, alas, i failed! i'd only gotten to chapter 35 by the time i saw the production.)

sequence in the structure
not having seen any of the previous stagings (and not having finished my re-reading of the book yet, kekeke), i can't say if the adjustments made by gemora and dramaturg rody vera in creating bridge scenes to highlight "the letters (of the lead characters) angle" makes the material any tighter.

but as it is, the material (just like the book) is (still) episodic; momentum fizzles often.  the musical's sequencing hews too faithfully to the book's chronology to make it move appropriately.

mxstxrbatory music
it does not help that cayabyab's music style for this musical, though it sounds good, does not build, does not climax, does not end with flourishes--it's all  a series of melodies that don't sound like they're going anywhere.

in colloquial theater/advertising/marketing-speak, this is what we call "mxstxrbatory," (and i can't spell it out here because of these crawling robot censors that could shut down my blog if i did, kekeke), which basically means you're just going on and on with/to no end in sight, kekeke.

straightforward versus stylized
gemora's "straightforward staging," given the episodic structure of the material, given the circuitous music, ended up being too straightforward--because as these scenes trudge from one to another, unfurling the book chapter by chapter, we're led to ask "how would a stylized, symbolic staging bear out? maybe a stylized scene here or a symbol there would perk things up and move things along?"

and if it's a straightforward staging, why does padre salvi have three ninja-type, macbeth-ish weird-sisters matrons following him around?

plots and triangles
the major "action" plot points are there, from the opening dinner party, to the lovers' conversations, etc.  the "added" action plot points are there, too: the discovery of letters, the confrontations about letters, etc. but then, the "contemplative" plot points (from the book) seem out of place (and out of sequence) onstage.

when the espadaña couple comes out with their rousing song (and it's a funny, perky number), it's so out of place.  like, "where did they come from and what are they doing in this musical?"

and so just like "sweet charity," we're dealing with another case of weird plot structure!

if the story of sisa and her two sons are "backgrounded" as a subplot to the crisostomo ibarra-maria clara de los santos-padre salvi love/lust triangle, then how come the espadaña couple aren't backgrounded as well? if they're comic relief, should their big number come out so late in the production (faithfully following the book's sequence of events)?

against the foregrounded love/lust triangle plot, do we still need to see a whole song number by kapitan tiago about his collection of saint statues/figurines? and in the second act, too! when all we want is for that damned block to fall on ibarra already.

symbolic set design
if the staging is "straightforward" then the set is definitely "symbolic," and so right away, there is a visual incongruency. does this kind of set design work in context with/in relation to the material/the staging?

mio infante's expansive flight of stairs is sculptural, solid and a visual showcase. and yes, there are layers of symbolism: layers of society and all that.

but as part of the fabric of the staging/story, we are led to ask, "stairs as leading to what?" or is that the point? to show the audience that (to paraphrase a line from the movie "joy luck club") the characters in this musical, and of course, symbolic of filipinos as a people, are always going up and going down, but always in the same place? not really getting anywhere?

his three-walled enclosure with windows (that reminds me of the walls-with-windows in tanya mccallinsimilar's set design of théâtre du châtelet's staging of "sweeny todd") was, according to my seatmate g.c., symbolic of the characters being enclosed/entrapped.  hmmm. my reaction was: "why is this musical set inside a warehouse?" kekeke!

What do you think of these productions? Share your comments.

“Tanghalin ang Tanghalan: Unang Pambansang Kumperensiya sa Estetika ng Dula” Sept 28-29, 2011

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Tanghalin ang Tanghalan: 
Unang Pambansang Kumperensiya sa Estetika ng Dula
(First National Conference on Theater Aesthetics)
September 28-29, 2011
Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila

through the support of
the National Commission for Culture and the Arts
and Teatro Sambisig

This conference aims to provide a venue for sharing and critical discussion among theatre artists and scholars.

The conference highlights include:
- a presentation of the results of the research project “Tanghalan: A Preliminary Survey and Research on Regional Theater Aesthetics"
- and a sharing-discussion among theater scholars, artists and students

The conference hopes to develop critical lenses in appreciating the richness and diversity of theatre work through the inputs of participating theater practitioners. Proceedings of the conference will be developed as resource materials for theater artists, teachers and students.

Preparations for this conference began as early as 2009 when research materials were prepared in a preliminary survey of regional theater situations and experiences. Theater practitioners and scholars were tasked to prepare materials on various topics.

Joseph Ramos, artistic director of Pandacan-based community theater group Teatro Sambisig, was the research coordinator and worked with theater artists and scholars from the four regions (Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and Nat'l Capital Region), to facilitate their own respective research efforts.

"We discovered that there is very little documentation available," he says. "We hope our efforts will become the beginning stage of what will become a long-term and sustained effort."

Researchers included Karl Gaspar from Mindanao; Cecil Nava and Lucien Letaba from Visayas; and Mary Carling and Rica Palis from Luzon; with Manny Pambid (Philippine Educational Theater Association), Dennis Marasigan (formerly of Tanghalang Pilipino and CCP), and Ricky Abad (Ateneo) from NCR, among others.

"We invite you to share in the discussion with theater artists from different regions," says conference director Glecy Atienza.  "Through your critical inputs and feedback, we hope to come up with approaches in appreciating current practices in theatre work."

“We’re after the articulation of what factors of Filipino theater are distinctively Filipino. What is Philippine theater? What makes Philippine theater, theater? What makes Philippine theater, Philippine?”

Theater scholars/practitioners such as Bienvenido Lumbera, Nicanor Tiongson, Prospero Covar, Priscelina Legasto, Don Pagusara, and others have been invited to share their observations and lead the discussion.

Sequence of activities:

Setyembre 28,2011

Pagbubukas ng Kumperensiya
Chris Millado, Sentrong Pangkultura ng Pilipinas

Ang Proyektong “Tanghalin ang Tanghalan”
Prof.Glecy C. Atienza, Direktor ng Kumperensya, Tanghalin ang Tanghalan

Tanghalan ng Dula: Mga Tampok na Karanasan sa Rehiyon

Presentasyon ng Mga Buod ng mga Saliksik
Edward Perez, NCDA Luzon

Panimulang Pagtalakay ng mga Saliksik
Dr. Prospero Covar, Antropologo,Unibersidad ng Pilipinas,Diliman,Lungsod Quezon
G. Ventura Bitot,

Pagtalakay Mula sa Mga Delegado mula sa mga Rehiyon
Presentasyon ng mga Buod ng mga Saliksik
Dr. Jerry Respeto, Tanghalang Entablado, Ateneo de Manila University

Panimulang Pagtalakay ng mga Saliksik
Dr. Priscelina Patajo-Legasto, Dept. of English and Comparative Literature, UP Diliman
Dr. Lulu Torres-Reyes, Dept. of English, Ateneo de Manila University

Pagtalakay Mula sa Mga Delegado mula sa mga Rehiyon

Presentasyon ng Buod ng mga Saliksik
Lutgardo Labad, Teatro Bol-anon, Bohol Province

Panimulang Pagtalakay ng mga Saliksik
Dr.Leoncio Deriada, University of the Philippines, Iloilo (retired)
Dr.Orlando Magno, University of Cebu

Pagtalakay mula sa mga Delegado mula sa Rehiyon

Panonood ng dula - Tanghalang Pilipino

Setyembre 29,2011

Balik-tanaw sa Unang Araw

Pagpapatuloy ng Tanghalan ng mga Dula: Tampok na Karanasan sa Rehiyon

Presentasyon ng Buod ng mga Saliksik
Fe Remotigue at Gng..Marili Fernandez-Ilagan

Panimulang Pagtalakay sa mga Saliksik
Agustin Pagusara
Arnel Mardoquio

Pagtalakay mula sa mga Delegado mula sa Rehiyon

Talakayan: Ang Tanghalan ng Dulang Filipino sa Pambansang Paglantaw
Dr.Nicanor Tiongson, Unibersidad ng Pilipinas
Dr.Bienvenido Lumbera,Pambansang Alagad ng Sining
Pagbubuhol: Mga Tunguhin ng Tanghalan ng Dulang Filipino
Nestor Horfilla, Manuel Pambid, Roberto Mendoza

Registration and fees
Interested parties are requested to register
through email at
or text 0916-431-0841 or 0927-7839159

A conference fee of P800.00 will cover meals for two days and a conference CD kit.

Attendees and guest from the regions who need assistance for their lodging can make arrangements with the organizers.

What do you think of this conference? Share your comments.

UPLB Samasining's "Junto Al Pasig" Aug 31-Sept 3, 2011

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Announcement from UPLB Samasining

UPLB Samasining stages Jose Rizal's Junto al Pasig

In celebration of Jose Rizal's 150th birth anniversary, University of the Philippines Los Baños Samasining, together with the Theatre Communication class of this semester, will stage Eljay Deldoc's Filipino adaptation of Jose Rizal's "Junto al Pasig": "Sa Tabi ng Pasig."

Jose Rizal's Junto al Pasig is a one-act play which shows a sensitive issue in religion and spirituality - Catholicism versus Paganism. It offers questions pertaining to what we believe in and what we do not believe in.

From a teenager's perspective in the character of Leonido, the play will portray a different view of the Virgin Mary and Satan as the evident symbols for spirituality. Which of the two is the real savior of mankind? Who is worthy to be worshipped? What doctrines should be followed? Who should we believe? Do you have to believe? In Junto al Pasig, these questions will find its answers while knowing the other side of the national hero Jose Rizal.

The play's provenance
During the teenage years of Dr. Jose Rizal, he wrote Junto al Pasig as a commissioned work for the feast of the patroness of Ateneo, Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. The play was first performed by Rizal's schoolmates on the 8th of December 1880 at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, with music written by a Spanish Professor, Blas Echegoyen.

About the group
UPLB Samasining, the laboratory arm of the Department of Humanities, aims to artistically develop faculty members and students by providing a hands-on experience in the literary, visual, and performing arts.

Directed by Dennis Gupa
Original music by Marie Angelica Dayao

Venue: College of Arts and Sciences Auditorium, University of the Philippines Los Banos
Dates: Aug 31 to Sept. 3, 2011 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Contact +63917-209-7350

What do you think of this production? Share your comments.

Dulaang UP's "Titus Andronicus" Sept 14-Oct 2, 2011

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I wrote about how I think this year is the year of the Titus Andronici, and now, the last one for the year has come out with its announcement for its cast and showdates:

Announcement from University of the Philippines' Dulaang UP 

William Shakespeare's
Translated to Filipino and adapted by Layeta Bucoy

Two weeks before the elections in a state of paranoia and extreme desire to win, the story of a hitman who fights back bloodily unfolds. Drenched in blood, this Filipino adaptation of William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus intertwines political chaos and religious frenzy in a world where elections, showbiz and a town feast drown the people in murky violence.

Bembol Roco as Titus Andronicus (Carding)
Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino and Mailes Kanapi as Tamora (Clarissa)

Paolo O'Hara as Tamora's lover, Aaron (Chua)
Rolando Inocencio as Marcus, brother of Titus (Berting)

Paolo Cabañero as Saturninus, son of the late emperor of Rome (Armando)
Mike Tan and Zaf Masahud as Bassianus, brother of Saturninus (Antonio)

Titus's (Carding's) children
Delphine Buencamino and Olive Nieto as Lavinia (Salve)
JR Macanas and Arnold Reyes as Lucius (Ryan)
JK Anicocho and Nar Cabico as Mutius (Ram)
Fitz Bitana as Martius (Richie)
Sigm Pecho as Quintus (Rocky)

Tamora's (Clarissa's) sons
Ross Pesigan as Chiron (Nathan)
Nicco Manalo and Cris Pasturan as Demetrius (Nomer)

Skyzx Labastilla as Tamora's Nursemaid (Maria)
and Dulaang UP Ensemble
with the special participation of Eula Valdez

Direction and set design by Tuxqs Rutaquio
Video direction by Jobin Ballesteros
Costume design by Santi Obcena
Lighting design by John Neil Ilao Batalla
Sound design by Jethro Joaquin

September 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30 7p.m.
September 17, 18, 24, 25 / October 1, 2 10a.m. & 3p.m.

Wilfrido Guerrero Theater, 2/F Palma Hall Bldg.,
University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City

Contact 0917-750-0107, 981-8500 loc. 2449, 926-1349, and 433-7840.

What do you think of this production?  Share your comments.

Philippine Opera Company's "Harana" Sept 29-Oct 1, 2011

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Announcement from Philippine Opera Company

"Ang Bagong Harana"
Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2011
Carlos Romulo Auditorium
RCBC Plaza Bldg., Makati City

For 2011 as a continuing commitment of Philippine Opera Company’s mission and vision, “Ang Bagong Harana” takes a newer and fresher version of immortal and classic Filipino songs that will be interpreted in “never before seen performances” by the country’s foremost artists in music.

A must-see production for every Filipino who wants to hear our very own music and also serve as a musical treat for foreigners who want to introduce themselves to Filipino music musical heritage.

What is Harana?
According to Wikipedia and, Harana, also known as Habanera Filipina, is a form of Philipipne lyrical song from the Spanish colonial period.  It was used as courtship serenades in the Mexican-Spanish tradition based on the Spanish Tango or Habanera rhythm.  While the Spanish version has a lively, seductive tempo; the Filipino version is romantic, lyrical and slow.

Filipino bachelors, accompanied by one or two companions, would bring along a guitar to serenade their ladies under starlit skies.  The lady and her kinsfolk would open the home's window as a polite gesture of appreciation until the set of harana songs were completed.

In the 1920s harana became more mainstream, popularized by performers such as Atang de la Rama, Jovita Fuentes, Conching Rosal, Sylvia La Torre and Ruben Tagalog.

Why harana?
"Today, the young generation may not even know harana's real essence as far as Filipino folk traditions are concerned. And that is the one singular reason why POC is reviving this beautiful Filipino culture," says Karla Gutierrez, POC artistic director.

In 2008, POC staged "Harana" as a vehicle to showcase the evolution of Philippine music through song and movement. Harana went on a tour of Amsterdam in 2009.

It embarked on a Philippine tour in 2010, covering the cities of Cebu, Roxas, Antique, Bohol, Palawan. Earlier this year, it toured Bacolod, Ormoc, Tacloban, and Samar.

Who's in this show?
Directed by Floy Quintos, "Ang Bagong Harana" will showcase the best of all the Filipino composers from different music genres: Nicanor Abelardo, Ryan Cayabyab, Willy Cruz, Francisco Santiago, Antonio Molina, Resti Umali, George Canseco, Ernani Cuenco, Levi Celerio, Jose Estrella, Constancio De Guzman and  Felipe de Leon, to name a few.

The show will feature Philippine opera and theater's celebrated singers: Karla Gutierrez, Aizel Prietos, Charley Magalit, Janine Santos, Marian Santiago, Lawrence Jatayna, Jack Salud, Nazer Salcedo, Marvin Gayramon, Al Gatmaitan, Floyd Tena and Jurgen Unterburg.

What makes “Ang Bagong Harana” different?
“Ang Bagong Harana” will integrate past, present, north, south, colonial, post-colonial experiences and put them into a revue where our whole souls will be the source of inspiration. The different suites shall mix old songs and new while talking about “who we are Filipinos” and where we have been.

For tickets, sponsorships and showbuyers, contact 0917-5272880 or 881-7163.  Tickets also available at TicketWorld (891-9999 or

What do you think of this production and its posters? Share your comments.

Ralph Peña appointed as TCG board member 2011-2012

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Ralph Peña
Annoucement from USA's Theatre Communications Group
Ralph Peña of Ma-Yi Theater Company appointed board member of Theatre Communications Group

Ralph Peña, artistic director, Ma-Yi Theater Company (New York City, New York State) is one of seven new Theatre Communications Group (TCG) board members.

"I'm thrilled to be a part of the TCG Board of Directors," he says.  "I hope to make a meaningful contribution in supporting the remarkable work of [TCG executive director] Teresa Eyring and the TCG staff.  I have much to learn, but boy do I have great teachers.

TCG, the national organization for theatre, has announced new leadership of its board of directors.

Philip Himberg, producing artistic director of the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, will assume the position of board president. He succeeds Martha Lavey, artistic director of Steppenwolf, who concluded a two year term in June.

“TCG’s board is an extraordinary assemblage of theatre artists and practitioners that represent the aesthetic,
cultural and geographic diversity of the theatre community,” said Teresa Eyring, TCG executive director. “The insight and knowledge that these forward-thinking leaders bring to the table help TCG stay on the pulse of issues, trends and innovation in the field.”

Members of TCG’s board serve three two-year terms. Board officers serve terms of one-year, concurrent with the fiscal year of July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012.

For 50 years, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, has
existed to strengthen, nurture and promote the professional not-for-profit American theatre.

Founded in 1961, TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to nearly 700 member theatres and affiliate organizations nationally and more than 13,000 individuals worldwide.  TCG offers its members networking and knowledge-building opportunities through conferences, events, research and communications; grants approximately $2 million per year to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level and serves as the US Center of the International Theatre Institute, connecting its constituents to the global theatre community.

TCG is North America’s largest independent publisher of dramatic literature, with 11 Pulitzer Prizes for Best Play on our booklist; it also publishes the award-winning AMERICAN THEATRE magazine and ARTSEARCH, the essential source for a career in the arts.

In all of its endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of its member theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field and promote a larger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the theatre.

What do you think of this appointment?  Share your comments.

Atlantis Productions' "In the Heights" Sept 2-18, 2011

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Announcement from Atlantis Productions

Atlantis Productions
Tony Award winning musical
In The Heights

Sept. 2 to 18, 2011
Carlos Romulo Auditorium
RCBC Plaza Bldg., Makati City

Directed by Bobby Garcia
Choreography by Cecile Martinez
Set design by Mio Infante
Lighting design by Jay Aranda
Costumes by Twinkle Zamora
Musical direction by Ceejay Javier
Vocal coaching by ManMan Angsico

In The Heights, with its hip-hop, salsa, merengue and soul music infused score by Lin-Manuel Miranda, took Broadway by storm when it opened in 2008.  It garnered an astounding thirteen Tony Award nominations and winning four Tony Awards including the Tony Award for Best Musical.

In The Heights is a quintessential New York musical about a vibrant and tight-knit community at the top of the island of Manhattan. The music pulses with the hopes and dreams of three generations as they struggle to forge an identity in a neighborhood on the brink of transition.

Acoustic balladeer and songwriter Nyoy Volante plays the bodega owner who dreams of returning to his homeland Puerto Rico. Nyoy has been in Atlantis Productions’ stagings of Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Dreamgirls and The Rocky Horror Show.

Award-winning pop singer and Miss Saigon star Ima Castro takes on the role of Usnavi’s love interest who works at the Salon with Daniela. Ima recently played the titular role in Atlantis Productions’ Aida.

Powerhouse singer Tex Ordonez plays a salon owner who may have to close shop due to skyrocketing rent. Tex was last seen on the Atlantis stage as Lorell Robinson in Dreamgirls. She was also a part of Hong Kong Disneyland’s opening cast.

Fil-Canadian singer and TV contest “Star Power” finalist K-La Rivera makes her professional musical theater debut as the Stanford student who returns to her old neighborhood with some surprising news.

Film actresses Jackie Lou Blanco makes her English language musical theatre debut as Nina’s loving and supportive mother.  Jackie Lou has won critical acclaim in numerous films and TV.

Calvin Millado returns to the musical theatre stage as Camila’s husband, who runs Rosario’s Car Service. Calvin is known for his performance as Roger in the Manila and Singapore productions of Rent. He has also appeared in Jesus Christ Superstar, The Rocky Horror Show, Dreamgirls, Disney’s Beauty & The Beast, Avenue Q and Legally Blonde.

Philippine theatre’s Golden Boy, Felix Rivera plays the dispatch driver who works at Rosario’s Car Service and finds himself falling in love with Nina. Rivera received critical acclaim as Gabe in Next to Normal and has appeared in some of the finest roles in Avenue Q, Spelling Bee, Legally Blonde, Xanadu, and A Little Night Music.

The neighborhood piraguero
TV contest “Star in a Million” second placer Jimmy Marquez joins the cast as the neighborhood ice shavings seller. The soul balladeer won the silver medal at the Shanghai MusicFest.

Abuela Claudia
Jay Glorioso, who received critical acclaim as Mdme. Armfeldt in Atlantis Production’s A Little Night Music in Manila and Singapore.

Also in the cast: Bibbo Reyes, Tanya Manalang, Jerald Napoles, Alys Serdenia, Johann dela Fuente, Japs Treopaldo, Carlos Canlas, Delphine Buencamino and Stanley Canete.

A limited number of shows are also now available for show-buying and fundraising opportunities.

Contact 892-7078 or visit

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Auditions for METTA's "Twelfth Night" Aug 25, 2011

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Announcement from Marie Eugenie Theater of the Assumption

METTA (Marie Eugenie Theater of the Assumption) announces
for William Shakespeare’s "Twelfth Night" to be directed by Jose Estrella

August 25,2011 Thursday from 6:00pm-9:00pm
METTA Rehearsal Room, Assumption College, San Lorenzo Village, Makati City

Prepare a monologue from your chosen character.
Actors will be reading from the script.
Auditions are on a first-come; first-served basis.

Rehearsals begin September 2011 weekday evenings and weekends.
Show opens October 2011 and closes November 2011
If cast, 100% commitment is expected of all actors.

Call 817-0757 loc. 1162.

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Shows this weekend Aug 19-21, 2011

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This weekend only

Dulaang UP's UP Playwrights' Theater's "Fake" (until Aug 21 only)

Opening this weekend

Gantimpala Theater's "El Filibusterismo" (until Sept 10, 2011)

Ballet Manila's "Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang" (until Aug 28, 2011)

Ateneo Blue Repertory’s “Little Shop of Horrors” (until Aug 27, 2011 Saturday)

9 Works Theatrical’s “Sweet Charity” (until Aug 28, 2011 Sunday)

Philippine Educational Theater Association’s “William” (until Sept 2011)

Repertory Philippines’ “Seussical” (until Dec 2011)

What will you watch this weekend? Share your comments.

Gantimpala Theater's "El Filibusterismo" Aug 21-Sept 10, 2011

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Padre Florentino (Joe Gruta) confronts Simoun Ibarra (Roeder Camanag)
Announcement from Gantimpala Theater

Gantimpala Theater stages El Filibusterismo

Gantimpala Theater continues to commemorate the 150th birthday celebration of Dr. Jose Rizal this year (2011), as it stages its second the offering of its 34th season: “El Filibusterismo.”

Written by Jomar Fleras, the production has new directors Jose Jeffrey Camañag and Andre Tiangco.  Andy Villareal is lighting designer.
Dona Victorina (Flerida Capiral) and Paulita (Anna Decorea).
“El Filibusterismo, whose alternate title is ‘The Reign of Greed,’ is a very dark novel, it was set in a dark time, written during the dark days of the Spanish tyranny,” says Camañag. 

“The theme’s progression is wheeled by an unseen dark force, a force that is so powerful that it controls even the characters’ trivial actions and choices that often lead to nothing but tragic endings. This unseen and destructive force is greed.”

“We hope to challenge the audience, especially the students, to look beyond the entertaining value of our production and try to listen to the remarkable messages embedded in Don Simoun’s confessions to Padre Florentino,”
Juli (Hazel Orecio) and Basilio (Alfred Urieta).
Roeder Camañag (Don Simoun/Mr. Leeds)
Joe Gruta (Padre Florentino)
Paolo ‘O Hara (Kabesang Tales)
Ku Aquino (Padre Camorra)
Mondrian Sampang (Padre Salvi)
Dante Balois (Tata Selo/ Don Custodio)
Alfred Urieta and Francis Cruz III (Basilio)
Hazel Orencio (Juli/Pepay)
Kristian Chua (Isagani)
Flerida Capiral (Donya Victorina)
Anna Deroca ( Paulita Gomez)
Jun-Jun Quintana (Juanito Pelaez)
Noel Escondo and Raymond Talavera (Placido Penitente/Imuthis)

Tony Espejo is artistic director of Gantimpala Theater.  Gantimpala Theater’s “El Filibusterismo” is supported by the National Parks Development Committee, Jimm’s 7-in-1 Coffee, and Everbilena.

Performances are on:
Aug 21 (Sunday) 7pm
Concert at the Park Open Air Auditorium, Luneta Park, Manila

Aug 26 (Friday) and Aug 27 (Saturday) 10am/2pm
Sept 2 (Friday) and Sept 3 (Saturday) 10am/2pm
AFP Theater, Armed Forces of the Philippines compound,
Boni Serrano Rd. (formerly Santolan Rd.) Quezon City

Sept 9 (Friday) and Sept 10 (Saturday)
Cinema 3, SM Southmall, Las Piñas City

Contact 899-5911 and 998-5622.
Visit and

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Ballet Manila "Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang" Aug 19-28, 2011

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Announcement from Ballet Manila

Ballet Manila brings back its most popular and critically acclaimed production of "Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang" as its 16th season opener. The trio of endearing tales from the beloved Filipino storyteller will go onstage on August 19, 20, 21, 27 and 28, 2011 at the Aliw Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City.

Young ballerina Missy Elizalde will dance as “Ate Missy” who, along with veteran TV and radio talent Luz Fernandez as Lola Basyang, will be weaving the three stories together.

Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang is set to captivate audiences once more with dance and music artistry at its finest, combined with colorful sets and costumes.

Co-presented by Anvil Publishing, Bellarocca Island Resorts and Spa, Aliw Theater and Manila Broadcasting Company, the all-Filipino production features the following enchantment-filled and value-laden stories:

Ang Prinsipe ng Mga Ibon, a love story about the search and sacrifice for true love, as a princess falls in love with a bird,  choreographed by Osias Barroso with music from selected National Artists as arranged by Mon Faustino;

Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya, a fantasy set to contemporary neo-ethnic music which follows a hero’s journey to different kingdoms in search of his bewitched sisters, choreographed by Lisa Macuja-Elizalde to the music of Joey Ayala; and

Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin, a local Pied Piper tale with the hero, through his magical violin, showing how good ultimately triumphs over evil, choreographed by Tony Fabella with music by Ryan Cayabyab and arrangement by Arnold Buena.

The stories in the Ballet Manila production are based on the Anvil Publishing editions of Severino Reyes’ classics, as retold by author Christine Bellen and illustrated by Panch Alcaraz.

Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang is also sponsored by Bank of Singapore, Island Rose and Star City. Contact Ticketworld at 891-9999 or SM Tickets at 470-2222.

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Fourth Wall Theater Company's "Tatarin" Aug. 27, 2011

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Announcement from Philippine Normal University's Fourth Wall Theater Company

Nick Joaquin's
Aug. 27, 2011
1pm 3pm (possible 5pm show if there is demand)
Pope Pius Auditorium
UN Ave., Manila City

Directed by Mark Ryan Hernandez

About the play
The play is about the oldest and longest-running war known to man, the war between the sexes. Joaquin's problem then was how to make this war relevant again to jaded audiences (the play was written in 1975); his solution was to set the play in the 1920s, when male-dominated Western Culture was just beginning to tremble.

The battle lines are drawn, around a married couple—Don Paeng and Dona Lupe Moreta, on the evening of the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist, on the third night of the "Tatarin"--a pagan ritual where for three days out of the year women hold ascendancy over men.

The play explores the pagan forces in the Christian community, and the superiority of women to imperious men. It portrays and contrasts the men and women who simultaneously celebrate the recently introduced feast of St. John the Baptist and the ceremonial acts of the tatarin, a pagan ritual to the moon led by female priestesses.

About the group
Fourthwall Theater Company is founded by teacher/artists-manned Drama Education and Theater Arts specialists of the Philippine Normal University. It is composed of active youth members, theatre enthusiasts and students who adhere to the precept that theater is a catalyst for educational advancement and personal development.

The group has performed in various schools and universities and rendered workshops to empower education through drama and theater arts by helping out schools and communities to establish their very own theater organization.

Contact 0922-866-6917 or

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UP Playwright Theater's "Fake" re-run Aug 17-21, 2011

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I wrote about this production here and finally saw it and wrote about my thoughts on it here.
And now there's going to be a re-run in August 2011.

Announcement from Dulaang UP's UP Playwrights' Theater

After a highly-acclaimed summer run, Dulaang UP's UP Playwrights' Theater mounts a limited return engagement of Floy Quintos' "Fake" in August 2011.

Fake delves into the final days in the life of Jose Marco, a man who successfully foisted his forgeries of the Code of Kalantiao and La Loba Negra until the fake works were debunked by renowned historian, Henry Scott.

Fake scrutinizes our need as a people to cling and believe in something bigger than ourselves, something even bigger perhaps than truth.

Acclaimed actor and director Joel Lamangan takes on the lead role of Jose Marco and alternating with equally talented director, actor, and artist Leo Rialp.

Paul Holmes plays William Henry Scott
Ces Quesada and Alya Honasan alternate as Concepcion
Richard Cunanan plays George
Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino plays Sister Emily
Gerard Pizarras and Bryan Tibayan alternate as Old Miguel
Ross Pesigan appears as Young Miguel.

Set/Costume Designer Dante Nico Garcia
Technical Director Ohm David
Lighting Designer Meliton Roxas Jr.
Assistant Director/Dramaturg Emmanuel Feliciano

UPPT is subgroup of Dulaang UP. Dulaang UP is under the university's Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts, which offers certificate and degree programs in Theater Arts. Dulaang UP also stages its students' thesis productions under its Dulaang Laboratoryo series throughout the year.

Fake will be staged at Teatro Hermogenes Ylagan, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City.
August 17- 21, Wednesdays to Fridays at 7:00 pm, and weekends at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm.

Contact 0917-7500107, 9261349, 9818500 local 2449 or 4337840.

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Auditions for TP's "D' Emperor" Aug 17-18, 2011

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Announcement from Tanghalang Pilipino

Tanghalang Pilipino's New Musical for All Ages
an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Emperor's New Clothes

Adaptation by George de Jesus III
Music by Jeff Hernandez
Directed by Riki Benedicto
Choreograhy by Novy Novy J Bereber
Production design by Tuxqs Rutaquio
Lighting design by Dennis Marasigan

August 17, 2011 Wednesday 1-10 PM
August 18, 2011 Thursday 6-10 PM

Looking for actors with X-factor
male and female, 8 to 80 years old
1. Come in your most fashionable outfit that will showcase your identity
2. Prepare to sing a pop song (Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and the like).
Bring minus one CD or your MP3 player/iPod.
3. Get ready to strut down the catwalk

Auditionees must be available for:
- rehearsals beginning Sept 13, 2011
- performances Nov 9-20, 2011

1. Email your resume and pictures (close up and whole body) to
2. Upon receiving your email, we will get in touch with you for your audition schedule and venue.
3. Dealine of submission of resume and pictures is Aug. 17, 2011 Wednesday.

Contact 0917-844-0520, 0917-555-3595 or 832-3661.

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Shows this weekend Aug 12-14, 2011

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Aug 12 Friday – Aug 14 Sunday 2011

Ends this weekend
Dulaang UP’s “Rizal X” (until Aug 14, 2011 Sunday)

Gantimpala Theater’s “Kanser (until Aug 14, 2011 Sunday)

This weekend only
Teatro Expedicion de Filipinas’ “Lovefest” (Aug 12, 2011 Friday only)

U.P. Dance Company’s “Class Menu Reprise” (Aug 12, 2011 Friday only)

Ballet Philippines’ “Encantada” (until Aug 14, 2011 Sunday only)

Opens this weekend
Philippine Educational Theater Association’s “William” (until Sept 2011)

Repertory Philippines’ “Seussical” (until Dec 2011)

Ateneo Blue Repertory’s “Little Shop of Horrors” (until Aug 27, 2011 Saturday)

9 Works Theatrical’s “Sweet Charity” (until Aug 28, 2011 Sunday)

What do you think of these shows? Share your comments.

U.P. Dance Company's "Class Menu Reprise" REPEAT Aug 12, 2011

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Announcement from U.P. Dance Company

U.P. Dance Company
Class Menu Reprise

Aug 12, 2011 3pm and 7pm

UP Dance Company Studio, Ylanan cor. Magsaysay Streets,
University of the Philippines, Diliman-Campus, Quezon City
Tickets at P100

Featuring different genres of dance from ballet, and folk dance, to contemporary dance, CLASS MENU REPRISE will showcase choreographies by some alumni and members of the UPDC – Ma. Elena Laniog-Alvarez, Ava Maureen Villanueva, Lisa Fernandez, Al Bernard Garcia – as well as restaged dances of renowned choreographers Tony Fabella, and George Balanchine.

Contact 0917-804-4263

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Bayanihan's "Philippinescape through the eyes of dance" Aug 19-21, 2011

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Announcement from Bayanihan

the Philippine National Folk Dance Company
through the eyes of dance

with special participation of the
Loboc Children's Choir

Tangahalang Nicanor Abelardo
Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City

Aug 18, 2011 Thursday 8pm
Aug 19, 2011 Friday 8pm
Aug 20, 2011 Sunday 3pm
Aug 20, 2011 Sunday 8pm

Contact 526-8421 loc. 120, 526-1685 or 524-6285.

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Philippine Educational Theater Association's 44th season (2011-2012) line-up

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Announcement from Philippine Educational Theater Association

For its 44th season (2011-2012), Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) produces modern, educational and entertaining plays and events that can help students and non-students to rediscover and understand Shakespeare.

With the popularity of rap and hip-hop among teenagers at an all time high, and with Shakespeare being a master of rhythm, PETA creates an original play that uses rap to break down Shakespeare.

Ron Capinding’s “William” uses poetry, word play and lyricism to tell the story of a group of High School students in a Metro Manila school studying Shakespeare.

William’s” characters represent usual High School stereotypes: there’s Erwin, the shy boy in class; Sophia, the not so smart pretty lass; TJ, the bad boy athlete; Richard, the eager student leader; and Estela, the honor student. As much as these students are part of different cliques, all of them struggle to understand Shakespeare and his works.

Some find his poetry difficult to understand, others are simply bored with the subject and most simply don't find meaning in studying Shakespeare. Their lack of interest in the subject resulted to grabbed research and reports from the Internet, which enraged their rather passionate English teacher, Ms. Martinez.

Punished due to their “insolence to Shakespeare”, Ms. Martinez requires them to present a scene of a Shakespearean play, which allows them to rediscover how Shakespeare characters and stories are parallel to their life situations. PETA’s Artistic Director Maribel Legarda directs “William.”

“William” runs Aug 12-Sept 25, 2011 at the PETA Theater Center with shows every Fri, Sat and Sun at 10:00am and 3:00pm. 

Sonnet concert
After “William”, PETA will produce a concert where Shakespeare’s sonnets are turned into modern-day songs performed by well-loved musical artists.

King Lear
In 2012, PETA will stage a Tagalog translation of Shakespeare’s King Lear by National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, directed by Nonon Padilla with set design by National Artist for Theater Design Salvador Bernal.

Haring Lear” runs Jan 27-March 4, 2012 at the PETA Theater Center with shows every Fri, Sat and Sun at 10:00am and 3:00pm. 

Care Divas
Aside from “William” and “Haring Lear”, PETA will have more performances of the hit musical “Care Divas” on December 2-4, 9-11, 2011.

With PETA’s line-up of performances and events, students and non-students can now rediscover Shakespeare as he gets a fresh and modern re-cut. Enjoy timeless tales of love, betrayal, friendship and trust from the master storyteller of all time - Shakespeare!

For inquiries and ticket reservations, contact 725-6244, 410-0821-22, 576-5400 or

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"Seussical," unique children’s musical, starts Aug. 13, 2011

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Yay! My article on Repertory Philippines' new children's musical was published by Philippine Daily Inquirer for its Aug. 8, 2011 issue.
"Seussical," unique children’s musical, starts Aug. 13, 2011
By Walter Ang

Nacio Samonte (alternating with
three other actors) as JoJo
Repertory Philippines' Children's Theater will stage the musical "Seussical" starting August 13 and run for the rest of the year.

"Seussical" combines characters from the books of Theodor Geisel, more popularly known as Dr. Seuss, which includes "The Cat in the Hat," "Horton the Elephant," and "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas."

Not all Filipino families might have been exposed to nor are even aware of the books, but they might be familiar with the three movies that are based on the books.

Comedian Mike Meyers played the titular role in the movie "Cat in the Hat."

Taylor Momsen (who plays Jenny Humphrey in the TV show "Gossip Girl") played Cindy Lou Who in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," with comedian Jim Carrey as the Grinch.

Carrey also voiced Horton the Elephant in the animated film "Horton Hears a Who."

Atypical fairy tale
Oliver Roxas's Van Gogh-inspired set design.
This is the first time Rep is staging a children's musical that isn't a "classic" fairy tale, nor a stage version of a Disney animated film.

Rep artistic director Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo says Seussical is the "most modern" children's theater piece that the company has attempted in its 19 years of producing musicals for kids.

The music and lyrics of Seussical is by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, both of whom received two Academy Award (more popularly known as the Oscars) nominations and two Golden Globe nominations for the songs and score of the cartoon musical "Anastasia."  They are also co-creators of the Broadway musical "Once On This Island."

Former comedy troupe Monty Python member and Broadway musical hit "Spamalot" creator Eric Idle co-conceived the show.

Crazy, colorful adventures
Oliver Usison alternates with
Nic Campos as Horton the Elephant
The Cat in the Hat acts as narrator in this musical where Horton the Elephant discovers JoJo, a new microscopic friend who lives in Whoville, a city that exists on a planet that fits in a speck of dust.  Horton can hear the Whos because of his large ears, even if he can't see them.

Horton promises to protect the Whos even as he gets involved in crazy adventures:  has has to convince the colorful characters of the Jungle of Nool that Whoville exists, he has to take care of an abandoned egg, he has to deal with a bunch of mischievous monkeys, he gets kidnapped and sold to the Circus McGurkus, he has to face a trial, and he also almost loses the only girl who loves him.

Exposure to the arts
Costume design sketch.
"Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge triumphant," says director Joy Virata and founder of Rep's Children's Theater.

Virata has assembled collaborators to help achieve her vision of exposing "children to as much of the arts as possible."

Former Rep actor and now UK-based Oliver Roxas used Van Gogh paintings as the peg for the set design. To encourage use of imagination, Roxas does not mask the actors as animals but uses nineteenth century circus silhouettes as the peg for the costumes.

"Edna Vida, an exponent of modern dance, has put her expertise into the choreography.  She calls it 'organic' dance," says Virata.  "The music exposes the children to modern music cadence."

Audience participation
Virata is dismayed to hear of reports that art classes like drawing is no longer included in the elementary school curriculum ("I may be wrong and would love to be corrected," she says.).

"I decided to ask children to draw their own conception of Solla Sollew, 'an island where troubles are few' and is one of the songs in the show.  We will select drawings to put into a slideshow to be projected in the musical," she says.

"National Bookstore kindly and generously agreed to donate Dr. Seuss books that will be awarded to children whose drawings we use."

Rep debut
Bituin Escalante
as Sour Kangaroo
Oliver Usison and Nic Campos alternate as Horton the Elephant.

Four young actors will alternate in the role of JoJo.  Noah Ramos, grandson of Gift Gate maven Virgie, had played JoJo in a school production of "Seussical Jr." and auditioned for this Rep production.  He landed the role and makes his Rep debut together with alternates Nacio Samonte and Nicolle Cojuangco.  Alternate Alessa Zialcita, whose father Robbie is also in the cast, made her Rep debut at age six in "The Sound of Music."

Also making her Rep debut is Bituin Escalante as the Sour Kangaroo, a brash kangaroo who tells all that Horton is a fool for thinking there are people living on a dust speck.  Escalante alternates with Pinky Marquez and Ampy Sietereales.

"Seussical" runs Aug. 13 to Dec. 18, 2011 at Onstage Theater, second floor of Greenbelt 1 Mall, Paseo de Roxas cor. Legazpi St., Makati City.  Rows of seats or entire shows can be bought at discount.  Special show times and dates can be arranged.  

Visit, subscribe to, and add "Rep Phils" in Facebook.  Call 571-6926 or 571-4941 or visit Tickets also available through Ticketworld at 891-9999 or

Also published online:

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Theaterbatoring DLSCSB's "Titus Andronicus" 2011

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thoughts on de la salle college of st. benilde's "titus andronicus"
by walter ang
aug. 6, 2011

since i realized earlier this year that 2011 is the year of the titus andronici and since i've already caught one staging this year, i figured i might as well catch the remaining two.

so, despite a super busy schedule, i made an effort to catch de la salle college of st. benilde's production of "titus andronicus," staged for the thesis work of its graduating classes in production design and technical theater. let's leave the grading of the costume design, set design and lighting design to their teachers.

translated and directed by george de jesus III, the show is a straightforward staging that's fun and funny. fun because the various murders, dismembering, and other acts of violence are done without hesitation and very matter-of-factly, as if the people in this ancient roman universe chop limbs off other people everyday for breakfast.

funny because, apparently, shakespeare has built in some really funny situations and de jesus stages them as such.  there is no pretense at high-brow seriousness in de jesus'  handling of the text.

most of the actors play the major roles with a consistent sense of nervous cackling energy, a kind of anxious paranoia that seems apt for the material.

crazed funny
joel saracho is in fine form as titus andronicus, but lacks a bit of gravitas as he's overwhelmed by the way the play is staged and by the other actors.  titus is a sad, pitiable figure in the first act, victim to the machinations of his enemies.  he finds his stride in the second act as he plots his revenge. initially, i felt saracho's voice was not deep enough to convey the stature of titus, but it grew on me as i realized it humanized titus instead.

gwyn guanzon as saturninus (who becomes emperor at titus's refusal of the position) and kalila aguilos as tamora, queen of the goths, are hilarious in their roles.  guanzon plays saturninus as a neurotic, bratty, excitable, panicky, screamy, fagotty evil emperor. aguilos is a crazed, loud, focused and sexy tamora.

i've seen paolo o'hara in so many comedies (which he does so well) that it's impossible, i feel, for me to take him seriously in serious roles.  so i giggled a lot even as he plowed through serious scenes as marcus, the brother of titus.

creepy evil funny vs bumbling evil funny
gab santos as chiron and paul jake paule as demetrius, the two sons of tamora who rape, dismember and glossectomize* titus's daughter lavinia, execute their characterizations leaning more towards the bumbling dolts school of villainy, and as a result, fails to evoke fear in the audience when they are about to do their deed to lavinia. de jesus, santos and paule have developed characterizations that seem to lack a level of sinister dread that would have been a nice additional layer to the characters.

(the notes i've read on titus usually point out that titus, being one of shakespeare's earliest plays, presents many of what are to become his stock characters in his later plays.  the two brothers, i realized after watching this show, are precursors to hamlet's rosencratz and guildenstern--but i'm not a shakespeare scholar, so please don't quote me on this, kekeke. i saw red concepcion and felix rivera as rosencratz and guildenstern in repertory philippines' 2008 staging of hamlet; they were funny, but evil scary creepy funny.)

two heads are more than one
nar cabico as martius and ga fallarme as quintus, sons of titus, get their heads cut off.  the production design majors had to showcase their model-making skills by making prosthetic disembodied heads, but i think it would have been more fun to have let the two actors climb underneath the set and stick their heads out for the head-presentation scene, kekeke!

in any case, they get to have fun as they get to play other roles: both ham it up when cabico doubles as tamora's (funny) nurse and fallarme doubles as the (funny) clown. later on, both also perform as goths.

joshua deocareza has got a great swagger as aaron, tamora's amoral lover and co-mastermind of the troubles for the adronici.  he made his character come to life with a very pinoy-flavored machismo, kind of like an arrogant action movie hero, that worked.

but he has to be careful with his ad libs. he said "okay" during one of his scenes! and he has to go through a mime or props handling workshop, methinks, because he picked up his (doll) baby, at one point, just like a doll!  these are glaring errors that mar an otherwise effective performance.

weight of words and babies
but deocarez is not the only actor in the cast who mishandled the way objects weigh and the way words are said.

several actors picked up and swung swords as if the swords were as light as the papier-mache they were really made of instead of metal.  and one actor pulled out alarbus' innards with too much ease--i have never pulled out innards from a freshly killed human before, but i imagine that it would be a slimy and hot (37 degrees celsius at least) proceeding, not clean and fast at all.

also, lavinia and titus recover from the trauma of being dismembered far too easily.  lavinia's freshly dehanded wrists land far too often to the ground, perhaps steadying herself on her elbows might have been more apt?  not even a retching cough from titus after he has his hand chopped off, no lightheadedness or shortness of breath--he turns around and starts talking as if he'd only picked a scab off his arm.

there is also some inconsistency on the use of names ending in -us and being replaced with -o.  for example, saying "saturnino" instead of "saturninus."

russel legaspi is a revelation as lucius. he carries the role well, cuts a striking figure, is able to exude vulnerability while imbuing gravitas to the role.

in this play where actors are pushed, shoved, pulled by the hair, stabbed, dragged around and suffer all sorts of indignities, an unstable world with unstable characters, legaspi's steady stance throughout the play provides bookend anchors for the audience. he stabilizes the unraveling, fraying edges with the final cuts and is left to clean up the terrible mess.

*okay, glossectomize is a medical term and, therefore, connotes surgical instruments and professional doctors. it's not the most appropriate word to replace "tongue cutting by dagger" but i just wanted a chance to use the term, kekeke!

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Teatro Expedicion de Filipinas "Lovefest" Aug 12, 2011

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I saw the world premiere of "Ang Bayot ..." at the 2008 Virgin Labfest and wrote about it here.  Now its going to be restaged.

Announcement from Teatro Expedicion de Filipinas

Teatro Expedicion de Filipinas

Tried, Tested, Staged Plays
A twin-bill of one-act comedy plays from the Virgin Labfest

August 12, 2011 8 PM
College Assurance Plan Auditorium, College Assurance Plan Building, 
126 Amorsolo St. cor. Rufino St., Legaspi Village, Makati City
Ticket Price P300 ONLY

(From Virgin Labfest 2008)
Rogelio Braga's
“Ang Bayot,ang Meranao at ang Habal-habal sa Isang Nakababagot na Paghihintay sa Kanto ng Lanao del Norte”
An unusual rendezvous of two beautiful and sharp-tongue outspoken creatures living at the margins of our society. Take a peak on their engagement as they courageously travel - devoid of any inhibitions, political corectness, and social graces - that rough and "older than history" roads of discrimination, hypocrisy, bigotry, social divides, corruption, and unspoken violence to arrive in a decent friendship. Ang Bayot, Ang Meranao, at ang Habal-Habal sa Isang Nakababagot na Paghihintay sa Kanto ng Lanao del Norte is a bitter yet funky peppered with a Radio Active Sago Project kick-ass take on the cruelties of our society that condones discrimination which is definitely not so cool.

(From Virgin Labfest 2011)
Joey Paras'
"Bawal Tumawid, Nakakamatay"
It is February 14, Valentine`s Day. A pretty young maiden named Eva is trapped in a bus stop along EDSA. Desperately thinking of how to get a cab to make it to her father`s burial in La Loma, she tries to ask passersby on how to easily make it to her destination. As she encounters different bystanders, she sees an easy access to make it to the other lane of the avenue---an opening in the middle of the highway which has a sign: BAWAL TUMAWID, NAKAMAMATAY. This signage prolongs her decision making. In the process of finding the easiest way to cross to the other side, Eva meets a stranger, an old carpenter named Mang Caloy. The old man gives her options on how to make it to La Loma but she remains indecisive.

The heavy traffic caused by the occasion and the unpredictable pouring of heavy rains engage them into a more peculiar conversation. A coffee shop near the bus stop becomes their initial refuge and this is where they begin to share sentiments and funny stories about their past. Eva talks about her father`s death and her simple dreams as a hopia vendor. Mang Caloy breaks the serene conversation by telling the story behind the signage. An unpredictable revelation of the old man`s past marks the climax of the play. As the busy avenue becomes expansive again, an unexpected accident happens. This sudden death catches the ill-fated Eva in deep shock.

Contact 0915-323-4521 or 0939-260-0309.

What do you think of this production? Share your comments.