Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jett Pangan rocks the stage

(The Philippine Star)  
Original Article can be found HERE

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Jett takes on the demanding role of Dan in Next To Normal, also starring Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, with much sincerity, confusion and heartbreak.
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MANILA, Philippines - It has been 10 years since Jett Pangan started performing with us at Atlantis Productions. And I am convinced that this man can do anything.

When I was looking for a singer/actor to take on the difficult role of Jon in Tick, Tick…Boom!, Jonathan Larson’s semi-autobiographical rock musical, Bettina Aspillaga suggested I call Jett Pangan in to audition for the role. Slightly weary because of his rock icon status (I knew he could sing but I wasn’t sure he had the discipline for theater), I called him in to audition. 

In came a really simple, pleasant, down-to-earth guy who really could sing a song like it was nobody’s business (and act it out at the same time). He didn’t bring with him any of his “rockstar coolness.” He just walked into the room with a smile and said he would love to do musical theater. And he knocked the ball out of the park as Jon. Sensitive, troubled, joyful and passionate, it was a performance that I still haven’t forgotten. Jett as Jon, sitting by a piano under the projected falling rain, singing Why with so much pain and confusion. It has become one of the most indelible musical theater moments in my career.

After Tick, Tick… Boom! Jett would go on to play some of the finest musical theater roles in Atlantis. His resumé reads like an eclectic mix of character roles and leading men that would have any New York City actor envious: Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Show, James Thunder Early in Dreamgirls, Officer Lockstock in Urinetown, Nick in Baby, The Beast in Disney’s Beauty & The Beast, the adult male roles in Spring Awakening, Professor Callahan in Legally Blonde and, most recently, Dan in Next To Normal. How’s that for variety and unpredictability? And those are just the shows he has done with us. He has performed in numerous other productions for different theater companies in a varied number of roles making Jett the most versatile leading man in Philippine Musical Theater.

In every production of ours, Jett has jumped on board without knowing what the heck he was getting himself into. He just trusted me. And in every production, he has been a joy to work with. Professional, passionate, supportive and thrilled to be a part of the team, Jett is a director’s dream. Mix into that bag some of the finest singing and acting from any male theater performer, I count my blessings to have welcomed Jett into the Atlantis family 10 years ago.

Through the years of working together, Jett and his wife as well as their children have become family to me. We have been there for each other during the best of times…and, more importantly, during the worst. Perhaps that is an even greater gift than the joy of working together.

But the working together part is pretty awesome, too.  And Next To Normal was probably the best experience we have had together. When I was casting the show last year I only had two people in mind for the lead roles: Jett and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo. No one else. I knew I couldn’t do the show without them. 

Jett sunk his teeth into the demanding role of Dan with so much sincerity, pain, confusion and heartbreak. He had everyone in the rehearsal room (and, eventually, in the theater) in tears by the time he got to his final emotionally climactic scene in Act 2. It is a performance unlike any other I have seen. The amount of truth and the simplicity of its delivery is what gets me every time. No screaming hysterics here. Jett says it all with a tender glance or a devastating look away.  His Dan is, in my opinion, a definitive performance. I am so proud of the work he has done and how he triumphed in what he himself will tell you is the hardest thing he has ever done in his career. Jett as Dan, cleaning away any trace of his wife’s attempted suicide and singing I’ve Been, has become another indelible musical theater moment in my career.

Now we get the chance to do it all over again as we prepare for the repeat run of Next To Normal. It will be a bittersweet run for all of us as I suspect it will be the last time we are able to gather the amazingly talented cast, that apart from Jett and Menchu, consists of Felix Rivera, Bea Garcia, Markki Stroem and Jake Macapagal. It was next to impossible to gather them for this brief repeat run and as everyone moves on to different projects, only a miracle will allow us to do this show again with everyone fully intact.

That is what makes theater so special: The impermanence of it all. It is alive while you are watching it and it is gone when you walk out of the theater. But it doesn’t leave you empty-handed. Good theater leaves you transfixed and transformed, long after the curtain has come down and you have left the theater. And Next To Normal is that kind of a show. It stays with you long after you have gone home and gotten on with your lives.

Right before the final performance of the first run of Next To Normal last March, Jett came up to me, hugged me and asked me if we could just keep running the show forever. He was joking of course, but I knew what he meant. The show has become so special to all of us who worked on it. It is a gift unlike any other. Like Jett, we all wish we could run this show forever and with each other. None of us have ever experienced anything quite like Next To Normal before. And we count our blessings that we are all able to come back and share the show with you one last time.

We hope to see you at the theater for this very limited repeat run!

Catch Atlantis Productions' NEXT TO NORMAL (THE REPEAT)
on October 15, 2011 / Sat / 2PM @ RCBC 

Contact Us:
Onay Sales (0918.536.2116)
RC Marzan (0922.888.5348)
Borgy Marzan (0922.888.5344)
email: watchplays@yahoo.com

Seat Plan can be viewed here:



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