Wednesday, October 20, 2010

INQUIRER SUPER: Party like it’s 1985

By Jed-Angelo Q. Segovia
Philippine Daily Inquirer

(Original Article can be found here: )

Flash back to big hair and power ballads with 9 Works Theatrical’s staging of Hollywood-turned-Broadway hit ‘The Wedding Singer’

THIS writer fondly remembers performing with fellow cast members in a 2007 Repertory Philippines summer acting workshop, directed by theater stalwart Robbie Guevarra.

For the culminating production, the cast jumped on a then-new Broadway musical, never before staged in the Philippines. The director was less enthusiastic than they were. “I originally didn’t like [the songs’] lyrics,” Guevarra recalls, today in 2010, on the 38th floor of Manansala Tower in Rockwell, Makati. Back in 2007, a month after the first day of workshops, the musical was staged in this country for the first time ever, for one night only: 2006’s Broadway hit “The Wedding Singer.” (heretofore “Singer”)” The budget was tight and the costumes were borrowed, but the performances were pure. A packed house laughed, swooned, and cried to the musical’s, essence, the same way Guevarra was won over. “After the [workshop] cast read through the script, that’s when all the songs made sense, and I saw it was a great show.” His first staging was a workshop finale. Now, he’s bringing “Singer” back, in a grander production, through theater company 9 Works Theatrical (9 Works).

White Wedding

“9 Works was put up because of ‘Singer,’” says Guevarra, returning to direct. Ironically, it was others’ skepticism of the show, not Guevarra’s, that hampered its grand-scale production. “I pitched it to Repertory Philippines, but they weren’t keen on it,” Guevarra said during the media conference introducing the show and its cast.

“So I approached [executive producer] Santi Santamaria with the idea to put it up.”

Guevara kept the vision aloft, while Santamaria planted it in marketing and budget proposals. After an odyssey of contacting the show’s writers, publicists, then licensing agency Music Theater International, Guevarra secured the musical’s rights in 2008.

The musical is based on the 1998 film starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, and is set in 1985. With music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin and co-written by the film’s writer Tim Herlihy, “The Wedding Singer” follows titular wedding singer Robbie Hart who, after being dumped by his own fiance, falls in love with waitress Julia Sullivan.

The cast is a 28-strong mix of theater debutants and veterans. They greeted media on the 38th floor of Manansala Tower in Rockwell, Makati, wearing “The Wedding Singer” shirts and headbands out of Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical” era. They introduced themselves along with testimonies of their eighties experiences, ranging from recalling coups to “drinking milk” (for the younger members).

Gian Magdangal, who played Roger in 9 Works’ Rent, will play Robbie. Julia will be played by MYX VJ Iya Villania. Both appeared in 2005, during Stages’ “Footloose.”

While getting coffee, Magdangal revealed lessons learned from “Rent.” “How to distribute my vocal work, for one. I also have to be very energetic because the role demands it.”

None can be more excited than three members returning from the original 2007 show. JonJon Martin, Harold Cruz, and James Stacy all feel nostalgia and excitement at the show’s rebirth. Stacy in particular vows he will reprise his original role as a David Bowie impersonator.

Grow old with you

Press were regaled with two songs from the musical: The whimsical, timeless “Grow Old With You” and original ballad “If I Told You.” To finish it off, the whole cast burst into a fully-choreographed bonanza of “It’s Your Wedding Day.” The company will be following the script to the letter—“No ad-libs allowed” said Guevarra—but promise elements of surprise (one of which is an actual line in Tagalog). Guevarra intends to tap into Filipino’s love of drama by wrenching every bit of it in the show. “Mahilig umiyak ang Pinoy. Those moments in the show, piniga ko. I admit, this show has made me cry many times.” With the divide between the eighties and modern times this wide, “Singer” is far from dated—its setting is its selling point. “There’s everything for everyone, young or old,” Guevarra says. “We’re aiming at an audience in their 30’s, 40’s and upward—people who will relate to the Dolphin dance and other fads that are hilariously eighties.” The show’s elements promise to be unapologetically eighties: Sets, dancing, costume. 9 Works will take audiences to when hair was big and greed was good. Audiences will also find a theme as timeless as Madonna’s “True Blue”: The hope that someday, your dream wedding to that one special person will finally come true. “‘The Wedding Singer’ is a dream come true for [our company],” Guevarra says, clasping hands excitedly. “It’s our duty to share it.”

“The Wedding Singer” opens Oct. 23 at the Meralco Theater, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City. Shows on Oct. 23, 24, 29, 30, 31, Nov. 5, 6, 7, 13 and 14; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday shows at 8 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 4 p.m. For tickets call 9 Works Theatrical at 5575860 or visit or call TicketWorld at 8919999 or visit

Catch the Wedding Singer: The Musical Comedy
on November 7, 2010 (Sunday) 8 PM @ The Meralco Theater 

Contact Us:
Borgy Marzan (0922.888.5344)
Onay Sales (0918.536.2116)
Robert Marzan (0922.888.5348)

To view available seats, click here: 

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