"Delight/Delirium" Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2012

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Announcement from Riley Palanca

Riley Palanca

A Creative Writing thesis production of Riley Palanca, Dept. of English and Comparative Literature, University of the Philippines, supervised by Paolo Manalo.

Two hours, four one-act plays.
18 men, 2 beds, 3 beanbags, handcuffs, rope, and a swivel chair

Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2012 3pm and 7pm
Teatro Hermogenes Ylagan, Faculty Center,
University of the Philippines, Quezon City.

"Delight/Delirium" looks into that triggering incident that shifts the dichotomy from the pains of delight into the logic of delirium. This is both a celebration and a lament of that psyche of an underground, masculine, and queer subculture, with each play layering deeper and deeper into the world of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, violence, rage, angst, war, power, and memories.

Directed by Arkel Mendoza
When five high school boys stumble into one of their friend’s basement to engage in their usual drug
sessions, little did they know how it would be the night that would change them. As they get more and
more inebriated, each boy zooms in on an incident in their group’s life, breaking down the barriers
between individual and group, ultimately leading them to question why they became friends in the first

Directed by Chic San Augstin
In a post-apocalyptic Philippines where the Clergy has taken control of the government and
homosexuals are being massacred, Viper, a high-ranking rebel soldier, attempts to resurrect his
murdered lover by kidnapping and interrogating an imperial priest about the whereabouts of a specific
body part — only to find out that its discovery comes at a price of its own.

Directed by Ric Salcedo
One night that could have been typical for two people: the first throwing himself into the world in
search for himself; the second, willing to oblige — for a price. Both callboy and client are trapped in an
endless negotiation about boundaries and fetishes. When the games begin, their whole philosophies on
love, sex, and relationships (the big three) might get either reaffirmed or shattered beyond thought.

Little Black Book
Directed by Katte Sabate
Who owns a memory? Who steals a memory? Is a memory a fragmentation of truth or the weaving of a lie? What are these men, are they men, are they characters, are they caricatures, or are they ultimately
ideals? One man questions his present by rooting through his past, clawing through the shards that
make him whole. A confession with no penance.

Contact +63915-970-5508 or palanca.riley@gmail.com. Facebook: delightdelirium2012.

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

Eugene Domingo: From 'Kimmy Dora' to 'Bona'

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Yay! My article on Philippine Educational Theater Association's upcoming staging of "Bona" was published in Philippine Daily Inquirer's August 20, 2012 issue.

The full interview is below. (The green parts are the parts that the editors had to cut out due to lack of space. Please support coverage of the arts by encouraging advertisers to place ads in newspapers!)

Peta's "Bona" opens Aug. 24
Eugene Domingo: From 'Kimmy Dora' to 'Bona'
By Walter Ang

TV and film comedy actress Eugene Domingo ("Kimmy Dora") will portray Bona, a role performed by Nora Aunor in the film version, in Philippine Education Theater Association's stage adaptation "Bona."

Bona is a diehard fan of Gino Sanchez, played by Edgar Allan Guzman ("Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me"), a contestant on a television talent search show.

Originally written as a teleplay by Cenen Ramones featuring Laurice Guillen (Bona) and Ruel Vernal (Gardo), National Artist for Film and Peta founding member Lino Brocka directed the film version in 1980 starring Aunor as a high school girl smitten by macho bit-player actor Gardo (played by Philip Salvador).

Movies headlined by Aunor have been adapted for the stage before.  Peta staged the 1976 film "Minsa'y Isang Gamu-Gamo" in 1991 with Aunor herself in the leading role. Tanghalang Pilipino staged the 1982 film "Himala" in 2003.  Both productions were directed by Socrates "Soxy" Topacio, who will also direct Peta's "Bona."

Layeta Bucoy was approached by Peta artistic director Maribel Legarda to handle the script. Bucoy has been gaining recognition in the theater industry over the years, given her multiple Palanca awards and steady stream of one-act plays that have created buzz for their subject matter, use of language, and surprise twists, such as "Isang Libong Tula para sa Dibdib ni Dulce" (obsessive love), "Ellas Inocentes" (sexual innocence) and ""Doc Resureccion:  Gagamutin ang Bayan" (politics). Last year, she adapted William Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" with director Tuxqs Rutaquio, her constant collaborator, into a contemporary Filipino setting.

"In this version, Bona is more empowered. She's financially independent. She's a call center agent," Bucoy says. "As a fan, she lays claim to empowerment as she believes that the inclusion of fan votes for a talent search affords her the power to choose tomorrow's next big star."

"At first, we tried to follow the plot points of the movie, but as the adaptation developed and the process, true to the nature of theater, became more collaborative, a lot of changes were introduced, though still anchored on the spirit of the movie."

Comedy drama
The resulting work is now a comedy-drama. Bucoy points out that the addition of comedic angles is not so much a catering to Domingo's comedic skills than it is a result of the "evolution of the adaptation resulting from the team's collective vision."

"The term 'bona' is used in gay lingo. 'Nagpapaka-bona ka sa pag-ibig' means you're being stupid, being too much of a martyr for love. When we look at Bona from this angle, what might be melodramatic or even tragic to some might be comical to others. The difficulty lies in choosing a perspective. Isn't it true that even when it comes to religious fanaticism, some of us may laugh at those who go into a trance while singing 'In His Time?'"

Bucoy also writes novels and scripts for television and film, which serves as a reference point and helps inform her work for the stage. "Usually, when I write a play, I deliberately try to squeeze the action, even for full length plays, into just a day and in only one or two settings. I find it challenging to compress a 'life' into just a half-hour performance."

"Bona's 'story' doesn't happen in just a day and in just one setting.  Stageability is one of my major concerns when writing plays. My mentor Nick Pichay taught me that audiences' attention spans wane when darkness fills the stage."

The production will use videos as a transition device between scenes but Bucoy didn't want the obvious comparisons to television's commercial gaps. "We wanted to make the content of the videos part of the narrative. Working with my soul mate Tuxqs Rutaquio has taught me to be conscious of how text is 'translated' on stage. Form has a lot of influence on both content and how content is communicated."

"With 'Bona,' using videos not only affords smooth scene transitions on stage, but it also enriches the very content of the material: Bona falls for a guy she first sees on television, desires to see on the big screen, and follows in cyberspace. The guy is inside a 'screen' or a 'monitor' as Bona herself is slowly revealed to be seemingly trapped inside a 'screen' monitored by those who dictate what kind of life should we live."

"Bona" runs Aug 24-Sept. 23, 2012 at Peta Theater, Quezon City. Contact 725-6244, 0917-5765400 or Ticketworld (891-9999). Visit petatheater.com.

Also published online:

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Extended run of Ateneo Blue Repertory's "13: The Musical" Aug 15-18, 2012

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Announcement from Ateneo Blue Repertory

Ateneo Blue Repertory's

13: The Musical 

from August 15-18 (8PM) and August 18 (3PM)

Fine Arts Theater, 3/F Gonzaga Hall, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City 

Music by Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Christopher de Venecia
Musical direction by Reb Atadero
Choreography by Mica Fajardo

More info about the show here.

Contact 0917-500-2462

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

Adjusted/new showdates of "Sintang Dalisay" Aug 14-25, 2012

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Announcement from Tanghalang Ateneo

Adjusted/new showdates of "Sintang Dalisay"
(due to cancelled shows during monsoon flooding)

August 14-17 at 7pm
August 22-24 at 7pm
August 18 & 25 at 2pm and 7pm

Contact 426-6001 loc. 5427, 0917-856-0787

Information about the show here.

Theaterbatoring "Sintang Dalisay" here.

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Repertory's "Wizard of Oz" opens Aug. 18

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Yay! My article on Repertory Philippines' upcoming production of "The Wizard of Oz" was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in its August 13, 2012 issue.

Repertory's "Wizard of Oz" opens Aug. 18
By Walter Ang

Repertory Philippines's Children's Theater, celebrating its 20th anniversary, is staging the musical "The Wizard of Oz," based on the book by L. Frank Baum.

Dorothy Gale is swept away from her home in Kansas by a tornado and ends up in the Land of Oz where she meets a Tin Woodsman without a heart, a Scarecrow without a brain, and a Lion who's cowardly.

The three of them set off to find the Wizard of Oz to ask for his help to get Dorothy back home and for him to grant her three new friends' wishes-all while fending off the evil Wicked Witch of the West.

For this staging, actor Rem Zamora will be alternating with Pinky Marquez in the role of the Wicked Witch of the West.

A role is a role
"I don't treat it so much as playing a female role but more of playing another character," he says.  "Being male does make it more challenging but once I zero in on the character, it becomes much easier.  The role is a lot of fun though.  She's a fun character and I'm having a great time playing her."

Zamora has played female roles before, such as (also) the witch in "Sleeping Beauty" and in the musical "Bare" for Ateneo Blue Repertory. "The witch in 'Sleeping Beauty' was a role that was open to male actors. 'Bare' was tougher because it had more layers."

"I was originally cast as the Tin Man in but when I read the script, I asked to play the Witch. The Wicked Witch of the West is fun because it's very one dimensional. Fun and games really."

He hopes audiences won't even realize that the Witch is being played by a male actor, "But if they do, I hope they can go beyond my gender and just see the merits of the performance. I don't think my being male playing a female role will open up any issues though. The material is so light and fun."

Not MGM version
There have been several stage musical adaptations of the 1939 MGM movie musical that popularized the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and which starred Judy Garland as Dorothy.  The latest adaptation by Andrew Lloyd Webber premiered in London's West End last year.

Another popular stage musical version is "The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical" which was made into a movie in the late 70s starring Diana Ross as an adult Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow.  Rep staged "The Wiz" in 1994.

Theater fans will also know of the musical "Wicked," based on Gregory Maguire's revisionist book "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West," an alternative prequel that focuses on Elphaba, who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West.

The version Rep is staging has book and lyrics by Jim Eiler and music by Eiler and Jeanne Bargy. Directed by Rep Children's Theater founder Joy Virata.

Cara Barredo and Giannina Ocampo alternate as Dorothy.  Set design by Lex Marcos, costume design by Raven Ong, and lighting design by John Batalla.

Choreographer Nathalie Everett has been tasked to create a "freestyle street dance vibe." Virata says: "We've got the Scarecrow doing waving and bugaloo and the Tin Man as a popping, breaking, locking robot in some of the dance scenes."

Zamora says: "This version caters to a much younger audience. Audiences will definitely like this one. It's simple and fun.  The songs have good recall and the script is really funny.

"Wizard of Oz" opens Aug 18 and runs till Dec at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1 Mall, Makati City. Contact 571-6926, 571-4941 or info@repertory.ph or Ticketworld at 891-9999.  Visit www.repertory.ph.

Also published online:

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The subversive, seditious sarswela of Lola Basyang August 2012

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I had prepared some notes for a possible article on the upcoming production of "Walang Sugat" by Tanghalang Pilipino but the article didn't push through. I"m using some of the notes, sentences that I'd already written, and the alliterative and clever (ehem, kekeke) title that I had thought of for this short blog post announcement.

Tanghalang Pilipino
"Walang Sugat"

A wounded Tenyong, who has joined the revolution against Spain, rushes to his sweetheart Julia, who is being forced to marry another man, to keep his promise of binding their hearts as one before his death.

"Walang Sugat" is a sarswela, a Filipino musical theater form evolved and indigenized from the Spanish zarzuela, written in 1898 by Severino Reyes, more popularly known by his pen name Lola Basyang, the grandmotherly figure of children's stories fame.

"Walang Sugat" is considered one of the "seditious plays" of the early American colonization, when Reyes and other playwrights would disguise anti-Spanish and anti-American imperialism sentiments through their works.

First staged during the early 1900s, the figure of Uncle Sam would replace the Spanish friar-villain character in some shows, allowing American authorities to deem the material as subversive and causing Reyes to be incarcerated.

Cris Villonco plays Julia
Noel Rayos and Antonio Ferrer alternate as Tenyong

Additional text by Nick Tiongson
Music by Fulgencio Tolentino, Constancio de Guzman, and Mike Velarde
Additional music and music direction by Chino Toledo
Choreography by Nonoy Froilan
Set design by Tuxqs Rutaquio
Costume design by James Reyes
Lighting design by Katsch Catoy

Originally slated to open on Aug. 9, "Walang Sugat" has cancelled shows for Aug. 9-12 due to monsoon flooding of Metro Manila. 

Show will open on Aug. 16 and run until 26 at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, Cultural Center of the Philippines. Ticketbuyers of the August 9-12 shows will be accommodated in these shows. There will be no extension or immediate re-run because of venue unavailability. 

CCP does not allow audiences beyond the actual number of seats (421) in Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Aurelio Tolentino Theater). To avoid the inconvenience of travelling to CCP only to find out that there are no more tickets available at the box office, contact 832-1125 loc. 1620 and 1621, 0917-7500107, 0918-9593949, and 218-3791.

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

Ateneo Blue Repertory's fundraising performance of "13: The Musical" for August 2012 flood victims Aug 11, 2012 8pm

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Announcement from Ateneo Blue Repertory

Fundraising performance 
"13: The Musical"
for victims of Aug 2012 flooding

With special performance by Reb Atadero

Tickets at P500
All proceeds will be donated to #reliefPH

Aug. 11, 2012 Saturday 8pm
Fine Arts Theater, 3/F Gonzaga Hall, Ateneo De Manila University
Contact 0917-5002462 for reservations

For details about the flooding:
Philippine Daily Inquirer news article: Storm with no name, 12M affected
New York Times article: City with water up to its knees

Details about the show:
Directed by Christopher de Venecia
Musical direction by Reb Atadero
Choreography by Mica Fajardo

Evan Goldman, a New Yorker on the brink of turning 13 years old, has to deal with his parents' divorce; a move to the “middle-of-nowhere” Appleton, Indiana; making new friends; and building a new reputation from scratch.

Trouble starts when Evan tries to fix everyone’s problems--the star quarterback needs help courting the prettiest cheerleader, his friend Archie is demanding a date with his crush, and, on top of it all, someone is spreading the nastiest rumors about him.

Evan’s loyal friend, the school geek Patrice, helps him get by, but because of the merciless hierarchy of their school, Evan must recognize who his true friends are and discover what it really means to be a man.

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

Tanghalang Pilipino moves opening date of "Walang Sugat" from Aug. 9 Thurs to Aug. 16 Thurs

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Announcement from Tanghalang Pilipino

Aug. 8, 2012 Wednesday

Due to the unfortunate natural phenomenon that we are experiencing now, we wish to let our valued ticketholders of WALANG SUGAT, subscribers, patrons and guests know that

we are cancelling our 3pm show and the 8pm Gala Performance tomorrow, August 9, 2012,
and the rest of the performances this weekend, August 10-12.

We will, instead, open next week, August 16, Thursday.
Your tickets for the August 9-12 performances will be valid either on new special dates to replace the original schedules, or your preferred other performances subject to availability of seats.

Please contact 0917-750-0107, 0915-607-2275, or 0935-378-4781
or Tanghalang Pilipino office 8321125, local 1620 or 1621.

We also wish to let you know that we are coordinating with the officials of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) for an agreement that will allow TP to accept donations in cash or kind for the flood victims before and after the performances. We also plan to do a special fund-raising performance of WALANG SUGAT for the same cause. As Filipino artists, we, in Tanghalang Pilipino, commit, not only to the promotion of our craft, but also to community service and assistance.

Maraming salamat po.

Nanding Josef,
Artistic Director, Tanghalang Pilipino

Carlos Siguion-Reyna

Theaterbatoring two awit-based productions: Tanghalang Ateneo's "Sintang Dalisay" and Gantimpala Theater's "Florante at Laura"

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thoughts on two awit-based productions:
tanghalang ateneo's "sintang dalisay" and gantimpala theater's "florante at laura"
by walter ang
aug. 7, 2012

tangahalang ateneo's "sintang dalisay" 2012

i recently caught two productions that were based on awit. awit is a form of filipino narrative poetry with dodecasyllabic (12 syllables per line) quatrains (4 lines per stanza).

ta's "sintang dalisay" is based on the awit "ang sintang dalisay ni julieta at romeo" (the pure love of julieta and romeo) by g.d. roke (1901). this awit is, in turn, based on william shakespeare's "romeo and juliet" (circa 1590s), among other versions of the story. ricky abad and guelan luarca have devised a staging script using national artist for theater rolando tinio's tagalog translation to supplement the plotline of roke's awit.

while shakespeare's play is set in verona, director abad resets the story in a fictional philippine southern muslim location and uses igal, a traditional dance of the indigenous sama-bajau people of mindanao, as its movement motif.

gt's "florante at laura" is based the awit "pinagdaanang buhay nina florante at laura sa kahariang albanya ..." (the life of florante at laura in the kingdom of albania ..." by francisco balagtas (1838), adapted by bonifacio ilagan and directed by roeder camañag using the staging conventions of komedya. not to be mistaken as the tagalized translation of "comedy," komedya is the performance/theater form evolved and indigenized from spain's "comedia de capa y espada" (cloak and sword drama) and "comedia de santo" (drama about saints), evangelizing tools used by spanish colonizers.

gt's use of komedya staging conventions is an interesting endeavor in that it aims to show audiences how this particular form used to be done. the "non-realistic, externalized" (i.e. exaggerated, declamatory) acting style and mustra (hand and body gestures) are not too difficult to accept, as the actors give off a performance vibe that, while hammy and hokey, kind of feels as if one was watching a children's play.

however, the entrances and exits where actors march on to and off the stage are distracting and interrupt momentum (it does not help that the music used for these marches stay the same regardless of the tone of the scene). and the paseo (pass-in-review) portions, where characters do geometric formations like circles, Xs, or figures of 8s, feel clumsy and look ill-choreographed/poorly executed.

(and do students in ancient greece, even if they are from royal stock, all wear immaculately white tunics? all with gold trim? and with white leggings?)

gantimpala theater's "florante at laura" 2012
ta's reconfigured locale and cultural context works and brings the material closer to home. its igal-based movement lends a visually pleasing kinetic layer to the text, though the production could scale it back a bit.

companions who watched with me had these two observations: (1) the hand and arm gestures, though novel in the beginning, loses its potency because almost every single line comes with the gestures; (2) the male actors need work on their shoulder movements ("it's supposed to be an up-and-down motion, not 'shake, body body dancer,'" said one.) and they lack masculinity in their demeanor ("this play is still, at its core, about men and women. the movement should reflect that," said the other.)

i'm ambivalent about the continuous use of hand gestures all throughout and i'm not an expert on dance, so i can't tell if the shoulder movements were correct or not, but i didn't mind so much that the men and women didn't have distinct movement vocabularies. i felt it was a softer (and fresh) take in relation to the love/gender dynamic. perhaps even a more "eastern" or "asian" take versus more "western" notions of masculine and feminine physicality. and when divisions of love loom so largely as a theme, uniformity (not necessarily unison) in movement seems an interesting counterpoint.

here and there, then and now
beyond production values and executions per se, it's the staging choices that interest me. how does one take material written in and set in a different time, and set in foreign locations, and make it work for today, for filipino audiences?

we have, on one hand, a british playwright who wrote a play set in verona (italy), whose work was adapted into an awit by roke (nationality unknown), whose work has been reset back into a play by abad and guelan, (re)set in a philippine muslim locale, staged by manileños portraying their southern counterparts.

on the other hand, we have a filipino playwright who set his komedya in europe (the story spans albania, greece and crotone, even has a character from epirus, and has turks and persians as invading enemies) being staged by present day manileños using an old staging form derived from the spanish.

ta's staging takes its material to a fictitious and "timeless" locale and infuses it with a "non-realistic" movement. gt retains the foreign locale and attempts to replicate old(er) staging devices that also have "non-realistic" movement.

ta's "sintang" is able to make connections with its audience perhaps because it uses devices audiences are familiar with.  gt's "florante," unfortunately, is a challenge to enjoy, perhaps because the devices it chose to use are (now) unfamiliar and harder to appreciate.

plot and familiarity
the awit "sintang dalisay" is based on a play (and ta's version still uses the play as an anchor to stage the awit) while the awit "florante at laura" was not written with the objective of being staged. setting aside issues of engaging plot and/or structure*, let's explore familiarity as an aspect of relatability.

is it easier to relate to a production (and, therefore, easier to like it) if you are (somewhat more) familiar with the material (before you go watch a staging)?

(some) audiences are familiar with "romeo and juliet" because of movies and occasional pop culture references. (most) filipino audiences should be at least familiar with the plot of "florante at laura" because it's required reading in high school.

and here lies the question: in this particular round of "romeo and juliet" versus "florante at laura," are we filipinos more familiar with (and therefore, can relate better to) a foreign playwright's work (because it's easier to watch a two-hour movie version; because there are more versions of it floating around in the world; because theater groups will always find a way to stage shakespeare) than one of our own (because who can honestly read an awit just for fun these days?; because why hasn't any movie producer made a new version for contemporary audiences to enjoy?; because, aside from "canonical" stagings of "florante at laura," who else explores other ways of staging it?)?

i don't know the answer(s), though for possible non-sequitur answers, we can quote both shakespeare and balagtas, kekeke.

shakespeare: "the play's the thing."

balagtas (my sophomore high school filipino teacher required us to memorize the second stanza of "florante at laura" and for some reason, i still remember it to this day, kekeke.):

kung sa biglang tingi'y bubot at masaklap
palibhasa'y hilaw at mura ang balat
ngunit kung namnamin ang sa lamang lasap,
masasarapan din ang babasang pantas.

[eng. translation by patricia jurilla]
at a glance, this may look unripe and sour,
because its rind is still green and immature,
but when savoured, the taste of its meat
will be enjoyed even by the discriminating reader.

[*shakespeare's "romeo and juliet" has love, street fights, family fueds, poison, missed communications, etc., elements that would be at home in a teleserye. (and his general use of major romantic couples supported by comic sidekick couples as a device in his other works is used in many a teleserye, too). balagtas' "florante at laura" is epic in scope, has romance, travel, battle scenes, intrigue, court politics, etc., also elements that would be at home in a teleserye. or even an animated film!]

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

Auditions for 9 Works Theatrical's 2013 season Aug 20-21 & 27, 2012

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Announcement from 9 Works Theatrical

for 9 Works Theatrical's
2013 season

Bring headshot, resume, and minus one or music score.

Aug 20 (Monday)
Song Auditions
11am to 4pm
- prepare 1 pop song and 1 Broadway song

Aug 21 (Tuesday)

Song Auditions
11am to 4pm

Dance Callbacks
3pm to 5pm

Aug 27 (Monday)
2nd Dance Callbacks
1pm to 4pm

Opera Haus
2nd floor
3637 Bautista St., Makati City


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

Jay Españo in fourth "The King and I" production

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Jay Españo in fourth "The King and I" production

Jay Españo
In 2011, Filipino actor Jay Españo portrayed the lead role of King Mongkut in three different productions of "The King and I" in USA and Canada (read about it here.)

This year, he reprises the same role in his fourth production for John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts in Eugene, Oregon, a performing arts company that presents a year-long array of culturally diverse festivals, concert series, and educational programs that focus on, but are not limited to, American music in all of its forms and variations

Shirley Andress
Asked if he ever gets tired of the role, Españo replies, "There is always something new to discover in this production and it's not a touring company so I get to meet and work with a new cast every time."

Director/Choreographer Richard Jessup was impressed with Espano's video audition and cast him in the role of King Mongkut, "Because he has worked and performed in Thailand, there is an essence of authenticity to his King character." Espano conducted dialect and movement workshops for the cast for consistency of the Siamese culture.

Playing opposite Españo is Shirley Andress as Anna Leonowens.

"The King and I" is part of The Shedd Institute's annual Oregon Festival of American Music. The show runs Aug. 4-11, 2012 at the Silva Concert Hall, Hult Center for the Performing Arts. Contact (541) 682-5000.

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