Thursday, December 26, 2013

PETA closes theater season with ‘Rak of Aegis’

The Manila Times 
Original Article can be found HERE

 THE music of the legendary pop-rock band Aegis conquers the local theater scene as the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) closes its 46th Theater Season with Rak of Aegis, a Pinoy rock comedy-musical featuring the songs of Aegis.
Opening on January 31 at the PETA Theater Center, Rak of Aegis will run for six weeks, Fridays to Sundays until March 9.

The highly anticipated new musical will feature chart-topping songs of the 90s Pinoy rock band, like “Luha,” “Halik,” “Sundot,” “Christmas Bonus,” and “Basang-basa sa Ulan” performed by a mix of talented theater artists led by Isay Alvarez-Seña, Robert Seña, Aicelle Santos and Joan Bugcat.

Other cast members include Ro Alfonso, Jet Barrun, Kakai Bautista, Poppert Bernadas, Gimbey Dela Cruz, Neomi Gonzales, Pepe Herrera, Carlon Matobato, Julienne Mendoza, John Moran, Jerald Napoles, Gie Onida, Phillip Palmos, Myke Salomon, Paeng Sudayan, and Gold Villar.

A story of love, fame and resilience, the narrative revolves around the residents of the flooded  village of Villa Venizia. At the center of the story is Aileen (Aicelle Santos alternating with Joan Bugcat) a young mall promodizer caught in the web of finding love and seeking fame to support her family.

Aileen’s family like the other residents are greatly affected by the flood. Her father Kiel is in the brink of losing his job as baranggay captain Mary Jane (Isay Alvarez-Seña) plans to close her failing shoe factory. Knowing that her income will never be enough to make ends meet, Aileen decides to make a video of herself in the hopes of becoming the next YouTube sensation. Aileen’s suitor Tolits (Jerald Napoles alternating with Pepe Herrera) posts the video online, unaware that it will put Villa Venizia under the spotlight and change their lives forever.

Rak of Aegis is a musical filled with visual spectacle showcasing the Pinoy’s natural love for music and innate resilience in the face of calamity. The musical is created by the same women behind PETA’s hit comedy musical Care Divas, PETA Artistic Director Maribel Legarda and Palanca Award-winning writer Liza Magtoto, with musical arrangement and musical direction by actor-musician Myke Salomon.

The musical also consists of a talented artistic team, which includes Gio Gahol (choreography), Jonjon Villareal (lighting design), Mio Infante (production design), Carlo Pagunaling (costume design), Maco Custodio (shoe design), and Joan Pamintuan (accessory design).

MAR 1 2013 | SAT | 8PM| PETA Theater 
Ticket Prices: 1000, 800 and 600

For reservations and inquiries, contact:   
Jayme del Rosario 0927.202.2017 
Buena Elizondo 0917.888.7179 

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Friday, November 8, 2013

'Maxie The Musicale: Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros' set to open on November 9

Click The City
Original Article can be found HERE

The long wait is finally over! A pre-holiday treat is coming soon for all the young and adventurous, the romanticists and idealists and those who simply want to enjoy a beautiful love story between a 12 year-old gay lad who falls in love with a young, handsome police officer.

Since its initial announcement to the local theater scene last December 2012 that the iconic film “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” has been adopted to become a musical, Bit by Bit Company, in cooperation with the PETA Theater Center and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, proudly brings to the stage “MAXIE THE MUSICALE: ANG PAGDADALAGA NI MAXIMO OLIVEROS,” a coming-of-age musical about a gay teen who is torn between his love for a young cop and his loyalty to his family.

Based on Michiko Yamamoto's screenplay “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” (ufo Pictures, 2005), “MAXIE THE MUSICALE: ANG PAGDADALAGA NI MAXIMO OLIVEROS” features book and lyrics by Nicolas B. Pichay, music by William Elvin Manzano, JJ Pimpinio, and Janine Santos, and direction and choreography by Dexter M. Santos.

Since the beginning of 2013, a series of tough and rigid audition processes and ‘call backs’ were held to search for the boy and the cop who will essay the roles of Maxie and Victor respectively along with the other roles in the musicale. At the end of summer, a ‘newcomer’ was finally chosen as Maxie but it had to take another month when the role of Victor was given to a theater actor/singer and TV commercial model.

Last August, a hip and energetic kick-off launch aptly titled “Patikim ng Shlight” was held at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The audience loudly cheered the 30-minute excerpt from “MAXIE THE MUSICALE: ANG PAGDADALAGA NI MAXIMO OLIVEROS.”

Bagging the plum lead role of Maxie is Jayvhot Galang, a 14 year-old resident of Sta. Ana, Manila who loves to sing and belt like celebrity singer Whitney Houston. He has joined a lot of singing competitions in various barangays and in a reality-search TV show. Without any previous theater experience, coupled with a very tough challenge that lies ahead for this role of a lifetime, Jayvhot joined the PETA Summer Acting Workshop (April-May 2013). In the last five months, his rigid schedule is a happy balance between attending classes in high school, aerobics exercises, dance classes and voice lessons under the tutelage of Janine Santos, a classical opera singer.

In “MAXIE THE MUSICALE: ANG PAGDADALAGA NI MAXIMO OLIVEROS,” Jayvhot will bring to life the young and innocent character of Maxie, a 12-year-old effeminate gay boy who lives in the slums with his father and brothers who are petty thieves.

Maxie behaves like a girl, wears clips in his hair and bangles on his wrists and even wears lipstick. He is teased by neighbors and former school friends. His sexuality is, however, fully accepted by his two brothers and by his father. One night he is accosted by two men who attempt to molest him, but is saved by the appearance of Victor. The story will revolve around the conflict between his love for the handsome young police officer and his family's illegal livelihood. And will their friendship develop into a relationship?

Giving Jayvhot their full support as his co-actors are well-respected names in the theater industry namely: Roeder Camañag and Nazer Salcedo (alternating as Paco Oliveros), Jojo Riguerra (Victor Perez), Al Gatmaitan and OJ Mariano (alternating as Boy Oliveros), and Jay Gonzaga (Bogs Oliveros).

The other members of the cast are Aaron Ching (Nar), Nomer Limatog, Jr. (Leslie), Teetin Villanueva (Monique), Eo De Guzman and Merdin Mojica (alternating as Peter), and Greg de Leon (Chief Dominguez).

The ensemble is composed of Ruth Alferez, John Paul Basco, Jules Dela Paz, Irene Delarmente, Elliot Eustacio, Karyl Factora, Jim Andrew Ferrer, Francelle Fetalvero, Al Bernard Garcia, Jeffrey Hernandez, Ronah Rostata, and Christian Velarde.

The band is composed of William Elvin Manzano and Rigil Borromeo (Guitar), Van Quiaong (Keyboard), Jonah Ruiz (Drums), and Allen Mamaid (Bass).

MAXIE THE MUSICALE: ANG PAGDADALAGA NI MAXIMO OLIVEROS” shall run from November 9 to December 8, 2013 with shows on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 8pm and matinee shows on Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm. All performances are at the PETA Theater Center, No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City.

The other members of the artistic team of MAXIE THE MUSICALE: ANG PAGDADALAGA NI MAXIMO OLIVEROS are John Neil Ilao Batalla (Lights Designer), Gino Gonzales (Production Designer), Ohm David (Technical Director), Emman Feliciano (Assistant Director), Stephen Viñas (Associate Choreographer), and Arkel Mendoza (Additional Music).

MAXIE THE MUSICALE: ANG PAGDADALAGA NI MAXIMO OLIVEROS is the second offering of Bit by Bit Company which produced the critically-acclaimed run of Dulaang UP’s “Orosman at Zafira” at the SM Mall of Asia Centerstage in February 2011.

Bit by Bit Company is composed of Atty. Darwin Mariano (Executive Producer) and Carlo Miguel Francia (Associate Producer). Assisting them are the rest of the production team, namely: Nicole Andrew Guila (Production Manager), Loraine Macatangay (Stage Manager), Lexie Bartolome (Assistant Stage Manager), Cheska Cartativo (Props Head), Henzy Manalaysay (Props Assistant), Nica Marcelo (Costume Head), Darwin Desoacido (Costume Assistant), Simon Tiukinhoy (Sounds Boardman) and Miggy Panganiban (Lights Boardman).

The marketing and publicity team is composed of Marvin Ray Olaes (Marketing Head), Toots O. Tolentino (Publicist), David Fabros (Photographer), Pow Santillan (Logo Design) and Ron Misayah and Jan Evert Tagle (Graphic Designers).

The screenplay of “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” was made into a film directed by Auraeus Solito and produced by ufo Pictures in 2005. It was the Philippines’ official entry to the 2007 Academy Awards and has won numerous other awards, including: 2005 Best Film from the Asian Festival of First Films, 2005 Best Picture from the Toronto Imagine Native Film Festival, 2005 Golden Zenith Award for Best Picture from the Montreal World Film Festival, 2006 Best Picture from the Gawad Urian, 2006 Teddy Award and Glass Bear Special Mention from the Berlin International Film Festival, and the 2007 Independent Spirit Award from the IFC Spirit Awards.

Will Maxie ever be the same? Will he ever get his romantic movie ending with the policeman of his dreams? 

Catch Maxie The Musical on December 7 | Saturday | 8PM
Ticket Prices: 1200 (VIP), 1000 (Orchestra)
and 800 (Balcony)

For reservations, contact:  Onay 0917.908.0565
Robert / RC Marzan 0922.888.5348
Jayme del Rosario 0927.202.2017
Ma-Ann Alimagno 0917.593.5895

Monday, October 28, 2013

Theater version of 'Maximo Oliveros' sees life 'through Maxie's eyes'

Original Article can be found HERE

Jojo Riguerra and Jayvhot Galang star in the theater version of 'Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros.' Photos courtesy of 'Maxie the Musicale'

The 12-year old lad we loved in the hit 2005 film "Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros" is back...and who'd have thought that he can belt out a high note?

This November, Bit by Bit Company in cooperation with the PETA Theater Group and the Cultural Center of the Philippines will premiere "Maxie the Musicale," the stage version of the critically acclaimed film about a young effeminate lad who develops a crush on a young cop while staying loyal to his family of criminals.

"It's the movie, but not the movie. Kasi pag movie siya, parang feeling namin sasabihin lang ng audience, bakit kami pupunta diyan, e, mapapanood naman namin siya sa DVD," said librettist Nicolas Pichay.

"Kung ano 'yung nagustuhan natin sa Maxie, nandoon pa rin siya, pero siyempre if you let artists work on an adaptation, they will put in additional insights and stuff like that," he added.

Dexter Santos, the director and choreographer, said the adaptation process from film to stage was exciting because the aspects that the team loved about the film were translated into song and dance numbers.

"It was very, very conscious for everybody that we have to use the power of the theater," he said. "We have to use different kinds of experience—that it's alive and that it's there and it's something that you can really experience."

"Since it's gonna be a musical, there will be a lot of dancing, songs, and it's very, very important—ang minahal niyo sa Maxie [the film] is 'yung kurot ng puso; it's a coming of age film," he added.

The story is set in the streets of Sampaloc, Manila where Maximo Oliveros (Jayvhot Galang) resides with his loving family: father Paco (Roeder Camañag and Nazer Salcedo) and brothers Boy (Al Gatmaitan and OJ Mariano) and Bogs (Jay Gonzaga).

Just like in the movie, Maxie will develop a crush on handsome young cop Victor (Jojo Riguerra), who begins to suspect Maximo's relatives of criminal activities.


'Through Maxie's eyes'

Despite the musical's being set in a poor community, the set will be a blast of colors from lavender to pink and other hues to embody Maxie's joyful and energetic personality, said Gino Gonzales, the play's production designer.

"Realistically, we're depicting a depressed area. Pero this case, I'm doing it through Maxie's eyes, kung papaano niya nakikita 'yung mundo niya. So, it's really through rose-colored lenses," Gonzales said.

The stage will be multi-level, using the second level and the entrances from both sides of the theater, because of the PETA Theater's small stage.

"So, every nook and cranny ginagamit namin, pati backstage, nandoon 'yung band. Tapos we're creating multi-levels to present the shanties [and] we're connecting them to the balconies," he said. "Meron din akong resistance on my part to do a very realistic set. So, it's a stylized set through Maxie's eyes. It's actually a heart-shaped set, pero puro barong-barong tapos maraming transparencies so you can see what's happening behind it."

Furthermore, Gonzales said, "I'm using screens, parang net material but printed with tabloid images, instead of using mga yero at saka mga kahoy na nabubulok which is typical of how they portray the shanties."

"Kasi, diba ang tabloid world is a good representation of what the world feels like," he added.

It's Jayvhot's time to shine

With his vocal prowess and resemblance to Nathan Lopez, who portrayed Maxie in the film, it's no wonder that Jayvhot Galang, who was discovered via a trending video on the internet, was cast to play the lead role.

"Madali lang naman po 'yung role para sa'kin kasi ayun na po ako. Pero may binabago lang po kasi, ayun nga po, medyo maldita ako, kasi po si Maxie sweet," said the young actor.

"Kasi si Maxie hindi lang po sarili 'yung iniisip niya, iniisip niya rin po 'yung mga taga-Sampaloc o ang nasa paligid niya at hindi siya makasarili—kung anong meron siya, binibigay niya," he added.

The 15-year-old belter from Sta. Ana, Manila has appeared on TV talent shows. He hopes that his theater debut will be his road to stardom, as he has always dreamt of becoming an actor.

"Very challenging kasi first ko sa theater. Hindi naman ako pinapagalitan para lang mapagalitan ng direktor namin—gusto naman po niya na maging magaling ako at balang araw, hindi man ito 'yung time para sumikat ako, baka next show," he said.

Al Gatmaitan, Galang and Jay Gonzaga as the Oliveros brothers

Getting lost in Sampaloc

It was not the easiest job for William Elvin Manzano, Janine Santos, and JJ Pimpino, the people behind the music of "Maxie," to come up with the perfect songs for the play. But an unplanned visit to Sampaloc helped them.

"Naligaw kami, dumaan kami ng Sampaloc at nakita namin 'yung mga bata na nagkakalkal ng basura, nagdiya-diyaryo-bote tapos nagkakalkal ng mga metal para ibenta nila, nagbabasketbol nang nakahubad at walang pakialam na matamaan nila 'yung mga kotse or whatever," said Santos. "Doon namin naisip na this is how Sampaloc sounds like. It has to be grungy, it doesn't sound Western at all, it has to be very local, it has to be very Pinoy, kung ano 'yung naririning nila sa radyo, nakikinig sila ng Salbakuta, ng Regine Velasquez.

"We made sure na kapag nag-formulate tayo ng kanta, kung ano talaga 'yung katauhan ng Sampaloc, 'yun dapat yung ma-reflect. Na-encompass po namin lahat ng genre ng OPM. Meron kaming kundiman, rap, meron din kaming VST & Company, meron din kaming hiphop, metal, love song, at lullaby. Lahat po talaga dinaanan namin pero we made sure na OPM siya," he added.

Catch Maxie The Musical on December 7 | Saturday | 8PM
Ticket Prices: 1200 (VIP), 1000 (Orchestra)
and 800 (Balcony)

For reservations, contact:  Onay 0917.908.0565
Robert / RC Marzan 0922.888.5348
Jayme del Rosario 0927.202.2017
Ma-Ann Alimagno 0917.593.5895

Friday, October 25, 2013

Upcoming ‘Rak of Aegis’ rock comedy musical based on popular band’s songs

By Edwin P. Sallan,
Original Article can be found HERE



With seven studio albums and three compilation records that have gone either gold or platinum and yielded such signature hits as “Luha”, “Halik” and “Basang-Basa sa Ulan”, no other pop-rock group has connected with the Filipino masses as Aegis has.

Only April “Boy” Regino comes close to the phenomenal “jukebox” following of the band known for their passionate performances and the distinctive high notes of husky-voiced sisters Juliet and Mercy Sunot that most other singers consider as unreachable.

It was only a matter of time before a musical based on their songs would be staged. And it’s no surprise that the Philippine Educational Theater Association is the theater group to spearhead it. Hot on the heels of their successful collaboration on “Care Divas”, award-winning playwright Liza Magtoto and PETA artistic director Maribel Legarda are teaming up again for “Rak of Aegis”, PETA’s latest rock comedy musical.

Actor-musician Myke Salomon — best known for his beatboxing skills and flair for comedy as one of the members of the Sabado Boys along with Jimmy Bondoc, Luke Mejares and Paolo Santos — will arrange the Aegis songs for the musical.

Set in a subdivision that has been flooded for two months, “Rak of Aegis” will revolve around the love interests of the main characters, whose names are derived from those of Aegis band members as a tribute to the band.

In addition to the Sunot sisters, Aegis includes a third Sunot sibling, Ken, also on vocals, Stella Galindo on keyboards, Rey Abenoja on vocals and lead guitar, Rowena Pinpin on bass guitar and Vilma Goloviogo on drums. As per their official Facebook page, the band continues to actively perform and have posted photos of their recent performances in Europe and America.

Audition callbacks for the musical as posted by Myke Salomon on Instagram.

PETA held a three-day audition for the top roles last September 25-26 and October 10 where aspiring cast members were required to perform Aegis hits like “Halik”, “Luha” and “Sinta”, and to read portions of the play.

Several theater actors and TV personalities have tried out for the roles. Although the theater group did not specifically name names, a check with tweets related to the musical revealed that names like character actor Jerald Napoles (who played Derek Ramsay’s best friend in TV5’s “Kidlat”), comedienne Cacai Bautista, and singer Jonalyn Viray of the vocal trio La Diva have been mentioned as among those who auditioned.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the number of those who auditioned, including TV personalities, which made me more excited to do it,” Legarda said. “It only means that there are people who really love the music of Aegis.”

Catch Rak of Aegis on March 1, 2014 | Saturday | 8PM | PETA
Ticket Prices: 1000 (VIP), 800 (Orchestra)
and 600 (Balcony)

For reservations, contact:  Onay 0917.908.0565
Robert / RC Marzan 0922.888.5348
Jayme del Rosario 0927.202.2017
Ma-Ann Alimagno 0917.593.5895
or Buena Elizondo

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

‘Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros’ soon to become ‘Maxie the Musical’


Original Article can be found HERE

This early, Peta (Philippine Educational Theater Association) is preparing for “Maxie the Musical,” the stage version of the hit Cinemalaya film “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros,” which made waves here and abroad after it was first presented at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
“Ang Pagdadalaga…” is the story of a gay adolescent, Maximo, who falls in love with a handsome policeman, grows up in the process but retains his homosexuality, nurtured by his macho family of petty hoods.

The musical, with libretto by Nicolas Pichay based on the screenplay by Michiko Yamamoto, won’t be staged until November, but already Peta has called for initial auditions at its theater center (behind Quezon City Sports Club).

So for two days recently, young hopefuls auditioned, singing one OPM and one Broadway-West End song and dancing before director-choreographer Dexter M. Santos. 

We chatted briefly with auditionees Jeffrey Hernandez, Chesko Rodriguez, Ruth Alferez, Paulo Rodriguez, and Maybeline Rose Balunsat and her sister Micaela Balunsat. 

Composers JJ Pimpinio, Arkel Mendoza and William Mendoza. Photo by Amadís Ma. Guerrero
Jeffrey is taking up Theater Arts at the University of the Philippines and has appeared in Dulaang UP plays like the recent “Collection” and “Orosman at Zafira.” He considers himself more of a dancer. 

Chesko has acted and sang in plays in Metro Manila, and has performed as a stiltswalker (for a moment I heard “streetwalker”) at the Universal Studios theme park in Singapore.

Ruth has done theater, TV and indie films (along with two National Geographic documentaries) and considers herself basically a freelancer. 

Paulo usually plays a contrabida (villain) in GMA teleseryes, which struck me as rather odd as he is soft-spoken and baby-faced. 

Siblings Maybeline and Micaela (13 and 9, respectively) have appeared in telenovelas. Maybeline has also sang in “Talentadong Pinoy.” 

“It was trial-and-error transforming this cult movie into a musical play,” said Santos, the director. “We started from scratch, meetings, brainstorming and then we came up with a team of musicians.” 

Auditionees who want to be part of “Maxie the Musical”. Photo by Amadís Ma. Guerrero

From the start, the filmmakers felt it should be a musical, according to Santos, “and so I told them we would use the power of theater to make it very entertaining, a song-and-dance play.” 

“The moments highlighted in the film are very exciting,” he said. “The first time Maxie falls in love, family, social problems…” And, he added: “The two main characters, Maxie and the policeman, are hard to cast.” 

Three composers
The three composers are Arkel Mendoza, J.J. Pimpinio and William Manzano, who have long been working as a team. Mendoza is the group’s pianist, Manzano plays the guitar and Pimpinio is the singer. Mendoza and Manzano are with Dulaang UP while Pimpinio is from St. Louis University in Baguio City. 

“There were workshops every Saturday,” recalled Mendoza. “Nic (Pichay) would throw us some lyrics and he gave us the liberty to change these, to make them fit into the music.” 

Mazano chimed in, “everything is agreed upon.”

Mendoza observed that “we did not want the music to sound too pop. If we can sum it up, basically what we wanted was to encompass Filipino song history, contemporary Pinoy—from Canseco to Cayabyab and Ely Buendia (Eraserheads).” 

Pimpinio added, “and when Maxie sings, it’s pop-kundiman.” 

“The setting is Sampaloc, Manila, so we strove for kanto (streetsmart) sophistication and class,” Mendoza concluded. “And all the characters sing, even the policemen, even the press. Everybody sings!” 

Catch Maxie The Musical on December 7 | Saturday | 8PM
Ticket Prices: 1200 (VIP), 1000 (Orchestra)
and 800 (Balcony)

For reservations, contact:  Onay 0917.908.0565
Robert / RC Marzan 0922.888.5348
Jayme del Rosario 0927.202.2017
Ma-Ann Alimagno 0917.593.5895

‘Closer’ runs for final 2 weekends, has Sunday night shows

Published by Inquirer
Original Article can be found HERE


MANILA, Philippines—Critics, theater aficionados and those who loved the movie version are one in praising Red Turnip Theater’s maiden production, the staging of Patrick Marber’s acclaimed play “Closer.” 

Now those who haven’t seen it only have two final weekends, with additional 8 pm Sunday shows.

Directed by Ana Abad Santos, the cast features Angel Aquino, Marc Abaya, Bart Guingona and Cris Villonco.

While it has enjoyed numerous productions all around the world, general audiences may be most familiar with the work due to its 2004 film adaptation by Mike Nichols that starred Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen. With this production, Red Turnip Theater offers audiences the chance to experience “Closer” the way it was meant to be: as an intimate, gripping theater performance.

The story revolves around two couples who weave in and out of each other’s orbits. It’s a study of lust, seduction, deceit, the myriad little lies we tell others (and ourselves), and the cowardice that keeps us from being honest.

Patrick Marber debuted “Closer” in London in 1997, and the play won him a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play the following year, as well as the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Foreign Play when it was staged in New York the year after that (it was also nominated for a Tony). 

“‘Closer’ is one of those works that excites us as actors and lovers of theater,” says Villonco. “It’s provocative but not for mere shock value; it’s a compelling human drama. It’s an example of the kind of shows we want to do, which is why we formed Red Turnip.”

This production also marks acclaimed film actress Angel Aquino’s debut in a stage play. Aquino was most recently seen in Erik Matti’s “On The Job”, which debuted at the Directors’ Fortnight at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.  “It’s wonderful material to be part of, especially since this is my first time. It’s beautifully written. I think it’s something that every actor would aspire to be part of so I feel it’s a privilege,” she says. 


Bart Guingona is no stranger to the material, having directed it himself in a production several years ago.

TV and film actor Marc Abaya, son of pioneering director Marilou Diaz-Abaya and frontman of rock band Kjwan, also makes his stage debut with “Closer”. 

“We’re very happy with this cast,” says director Ana Abad Santos. “They each bring their own touches to their roles and have different experiences with the material. It’s very interesting watching them play off of each other. There’s also a unique dynamic with this particular production because you have two theater veterans with Bart and Cris, and two theater first-timers [Angel and Marc] who are nonetheless acclaimed actors.”

Italian sportswear and lifestyle brand Fila has come onboard as the major sponsor of Red Turnip Theater’s production of Closer, as part of their commitment to the arts in line with their vision of l’arte nello sport (or The Art of Sport).  Closer is also made possible through the support and generosity of VMV Hypoallergenics, BPI, National Bookstore and Powerbooks, Indie Pop Films, and Sugarleaf.

Catch Red Turnip Theater's CLOSER
OCT 26 2013 | SAT | 3PM| Whitespace, Makati
Patron Ticket Prices: 1000 
Contact:  Onay Sales 0917.908.0565 or Jayme 0927.202.2017

“Closer” by Red Turnip Theater – Best of Filipino Theatre Arts

Posted by
Original Article can be found HERE

In the entertainment industry, true talent is best shown in a theatrical setting where a story is told without the elaborate special effects or movie editing. Life for stage actors is not easy because each performance must be perfect. There are no “take two” or short cuts for a scene. Therefore, actors who perform live on stage are artists with exceptional talent and stamina to deliver consistent quality in acting.

This month in Manila, the ongoing local stage production of “Closer” is definitely a venue where one can find actors with exceptional acting abilities. “Closer” is an award-winning play by English dramatist Patrick Marber. The play made its debut in 1997 at the Royal National Theatre’s Cottesloe Theatre in London, England and it won Evening Standard “Best Comedy Award” and the prestigious “Laurence Olivier Award” in 1998 for “Best New Play”. This play had a movie version in 2004 of the same title by director Mike Nichols and stars Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Clive Owen. 

“Everything is a version of something else.” 

The Manila production of “Closer” is brought to us by a new theatre company called “Red Turnip Theater” and directed by Ana Abad Santos.

The venue is at Whitespace Theater along Chino Roces Avenue Extension (formerly Pasong Tamo Extension). The stage is not the conventional elevated platform. The stage is at the centre of the room while the audience is seated around the stage. The actors are very close to the audience (just a few feet away) thus, there is an effective interaction between the audience and the actors. One can really imagine being part of some emotionally intense scenes that are loud and alive, and just a few feet away from you. 

An Expat’s Guide to Philippine Theatre Arts
Top left, clockwise: The Philippine production of “Closer” with Angel Aquino, Bart Guingona, Marc Abaya and Cris Villonco

These actors are more than pretty faces or famous names on TV or stage. They are Filipinos who dedicated several years of their lives in perfecting their craft and even travelled the world to train further in the performing arts.

  • Angel Aquino as Anna – She is a multi-awarded actress and model with an acting career since 1999. Just recently, she won “Best Supporting Actress” award for the movie “Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita”.

  • Cris Villonco as Alice – At age nine, Cris started her singing career and eventually performed on stage. She is an actor and recording artist. In 2011, she won “Gawad Buhay Best Actress in a Musical” as Maria Clara in “Noli Me Tangere”. She has a degree in Liberal Arts with concentrations in Music and Economic Development from Sarah Lawrence College, New York. In 2000, Cris was featured in TIME Magazine (International Edition) as “Hero for the Planet”.

  • Bart Guingona as Larry – In 2003, he won Aliw Awards for Best Stage Actor. He is also a directory for Repertory Philippines. He had two theatre grants in London, one for theatre direction. He is currently the artistic director and president of Actor’s Actors Inc. Just recently, he won as “Best Stage Director” and “Best Actor” for Aliw Awards for the The Necessary Theatre (TNT) production of “Red”.

  • Marc Abaya as Dan – Marc has been acting since 2005 and has done numerous films and TV shows. In 2010, he won “Best Actor” for the role of Pido in the movie “Dagim”.

Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice: This is the memorial tablet of Alice Ayres found at Postman’s Park, London which is one of the topic of conversation in “Closer”. One of the characters in the play calls herself “Alice Ayres” and patterns her actions and personality based on the details from this tablet. This historical tablet was designed by William De Morgan.

The story of “Closer” revolves around the lives of four people. On the first act we find Alice walking in the streets of London and she got ran over by a cab. She met a stranger named Dan who brought her to the emergency room. From there, the two became star-crossed lovers. At the ER, they also met a doctor named Larry whom they encountered in interesting future events. Dan makes a living by writing obituaries. He eventually wrote a book about the life story of his lover, Alice. During a photo shoot of his book’s cover, he met and fell in love with the photographer, Anna. Alice was aware of the secret deception while Anna tried to avoid getting involved with Dan. Eventually, with Larry in the picture as Anna’s husband, Dan’s selfishness eventually lead towards a destructive web of lies.

The story of “Closer” touches the issue on how betrayal and infidelity can ruin a person’s life. Some people survive from a breakup, while others don’t and they suffer in silence. It was quite fascinating though that one of the characters had self-destructive tendencies but ended up putting sense and order in the messed-up lives of the other characters. A simple lesson about relationships – “Do the right thing.”

From the play, we also see the difference between a man and a woman based on how they react towards an unfaithful lover. Men are more verbal about their shattered ego and they want to know even the dirty details on how they got cheated on. As Dan says in one part, “Because I want to know everything. Because…I’m insane. Tell me.”

Women tend to be in raging anger at first, the suddenly silent about it. Women would rather just walk away as they feel unsafe being around a liar.

Some of the lines of the script are witty, funny or sometimes sarcastic but in a nutshell, it tells the difference between love and selfishness. It is surprising that one of the characters in the story lived with a lover for years without even knowing that person’s real name or that person’s psychiatric condition. Therefore, the play shows us that in the real world, there are many selfish people who start a relationship only to please themselves rather than to give unconditionally to another person. The script conveys that many people use love as an excuse for their selfish motives, and most people do not know the difference.

Life Lessons

When you watch any play on stage, it is wise to pay attention to the script of the actors. It is the heart and soul of the play because it is the writer’s medium in sharing important life lessons to the audience. From “Closer”, there are a lot of memorable lines that most people can relate with. “Closer” brings justice and clarity to anyone who has ever loved, got betrayed and survived betrayal or still struggling to recover from it.

Here are some of the memorable lines from the play:

About falling in love:
Alice: That’s the most stupid expression in the world. ‘I fell in love’—as if you had no choice. There’s a moment, there’s always a moment; I can do this, I can give in to this or I can resist it. I don’t know when your moment was but I bet there was one.

About moving on:
Larry: Of course I’ll forgive her. I have forgiven her. Without forgiveness, we’re savages.

Interesting Merchandise at Whitespace

When you come and watch the show, you’ll find a lot of interesting things at the lobby of Whitespace Theater.  Before the show, why not purchase their informative souvenir programme? This is available in glossy print and it contains photos of the actors and the cast and crew. This is a cool way to get to know their impressive credentials in the entertainment industry. The souvenir programme includes a CD with video of the online trailer of “Closer”. This beautiful video trailer is directed by Marie Jamora.

Souvenir programme for “Closer” for a better look at our talented actors, cast and crew. This includes a CD with video of their online trailer. You may purchase this at the front desk of the theatre’s lobby.

Another cute souvenir item on sale is a tote bag with the “Red Turnip Theater” logo. It comes in two sizes: medium and large. This is a perfect souvenir to bring home after the show.
Red Turnip Theater tote bag. Available on sale at the front desk of the theatre’s lobby

The best part of the hanging out at the theatre’s lobby after the show is the chance to meet and greet the cast.

“She was…disarming.” (a quote from “Closer”) Meeting the lovely cast of “Closer” after the show, (left) Angel Aquino and (right) Cris Villonco.

Catch Red Turnip Theater's CLOSER
OCT 26 2013 | SAT | 3PM| Whitespace, Makati
Patron Ticket Prices: 1000 
Contact:  Onay Sales 0917.908.0565 or Jayme 0927.202.2017

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Angel Aquino pushes herself to the limit with full-length theater debut in ‘Closer’

By Edwin P. Sallan,
Original Article can be found HERE
Angel Aquino. (Photo by Jojit Lorenzo)

“I like to challenge myself as an actor.”

That’s Angel Aquino’s quick response when asked why she continues to accept offbeat roles in films, television and, this month, in theater with her casting in Red Turnip Theater’s maiden production of “Closer”, a faithful staging of Patrick Marber’s award-winning play.

“Closer” was also adapted into the big screen by acclaimed filmmaker Mike Nichols (“The Graduate”) in 2004 and starred Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Clive Owen and Natalie Portman.

Asked by InterAksyon how she reacted when she was first offered the role of American photographer Anna Cameron played by Julia Roberts in the film version, Angel admitted that she initially did not take it seriously.

“I was like, ‘Wow! Let’s go for a reading’. But as we got into it, I began to wonder, what did I get myself into?” she recalled.

Although Angel had her first taste of theater back in 2002 when she was included in the cast of New Voice Company’s production of “The Vagina Monologues”, “Closer” is actually her first full-length theater debut.

Angel (third from left) with 'Closer' castmates Marc Abaya, Cris Villonco, and Bart Guingona.

“I have this huge stage fright. I do hosting jobs and sometimes I screw up my lines. Hindi puwedeng ganun in a dialogue-heavy play like ‘Closer’. I really need to do this right,” she confessed.

To her credit, Angel has done a really good job of bringing Anna to life and, together with fellow stage greenhorn Marc Abaya, holding her own against theater veterans Bart Guingona and Cris Villonco.

“But it’s a wonderful material. It’s beautifully written and I think it’s something that every actor would aspire to be part of so I feel it’s a privilege to play Anna,” she added.

As acting challenges go, “Closer” is not the only project that pushes Angel’s acting ability to its limit. She has been essaying some of the most memorable characters in recent memory, such as the title role in Topel Lee’s psychological horror drama, “Amorosa: The Revenge”; a transgender in Adolfo Alix, Jr.’s provocative Cinemalaya 2013 feature “Porno”; and the unfaithful wife of a hired killer in Erik Matti’s “On The Job”.

And then there’s her recent CineFilipino Best Supporting Actress turn as Pilar, the mysterious new woman in a small town in Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s acclaimed lesbian coming-of-age drama, “Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita”.
“I was in Lucena doing a fashion show so I wasn’t able to attend the awards night. But I kept telling everyone involved in the film to keep me updated and they texted me all night, and I was so happy with the awards we won,” she exclaimed.

Under the sheets with Teri Malvar in 'Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita'.

Angel admitted that she was surprised that “Ang Huling Cha-Cha” was one of two films to be honored with the festival’s Best Film award. “But I’ve always believed in the film. The first time I read the script, I really wanted to do it, it was such a great material and Pilar was a great character to play.”

She said she was also very happy for her young co-star Teri Malvar, who won Best Actress. “The vehicle was really good for her and brought out the best in her acting. I really wanted her to win because she worked so hard,” she admitted.

One of the film’s highlights was a kissing scene involving their respective characters. For Angel, doing delicate scenes is part of one’s growth as an actor.
“A kissing scene is a kissing scene. Kahit sino pa yan, dapat halikan mo siya the way you should kiss that person in real life, whether it’s a man or a woman, whether you like it or you don’t, you just have to do what needs to be done when you’re playing a role,” she pointed out.

As for being regarded as a sensual actress, Angel chalks that up to years of experience.

“When you’ve been acting for several years as I have, you learn a few things, develop a few tricks and experiment on some traits you’re not very familiar with like, yes, sensuality. You just have to bring that to the fore.”

Directed by Ana Abad Santos, “Closer” runs every Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until October 27. Venue is at Whitespace located at 2314 Chino Roces Ave. Extension (formerly Pasong Tamo Extension), Makati.

Catch Red Turnip Theater's CLOSER
OCT 26 2013 | SAT | 3PM| Whitespace, Makati
Patron Ticket Prices: 1000 
Contact:  Onay Sales 0917.908.0565 or Jayme 0927.202.2017

Sunday, October 6, 2013

‘Maxie The Musicale’ –‘It’s the movie but not the movie’


Original Article can be found HERE

Darwin Mariano and Carlo Francia (producers), JJ Pimpinio, Janine Santos and William Elvin Manzano (composers), Nicolas Pichay (playwright and lyricist) and Dexter Santos (director-choreographer)

Curtains will open a month from now, but the buzz has it that theater showbuyers have been lining up for months to get a piece of the action. The main attraction is “Maxie The Musicale,” a stage adaptation of the indie film hit “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros.”

Jayvhot Galang as Maxie

The Cinemalaya film explores the coming-of-age story of a young gay boy and his crush on a twentysomething police officer. That Maxie, the young hero, comes from a family of petty thieves who are on the radar of the crusading Victor, adds a Romeo-and-Juliet spin to the tale. 

The musical’s cinematic origins and the film’s huge fan following have triggered huge interest for the theatrical production. At the same time, they have also made potential audiences ask: How faithful—or different—will “Maxie The Musicale” be vis-a-vis its source material? 

Darwin Mariano, the musical’s executive producer, quotes playwright and lyricist Nicholas Pichay for an answer: “It’s the movie—and it’s not the movie.”
Original choice
Fidelity could be guaranteed by the fact that Pichay was the choice of the original film producers to adapt the movie to the stage. The playwright also consulted with the the movie’s screenwriter, Michiko Yamamoto. Directing the production and providing choreography is Dexter Santos. 

JOJO Riguerra (Victor) with Raymond Lee
(producer of “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros”)

“We will follow the story,” says Mariano. “But we do want to maximize the fact that it’s now a stage play, and there are a lot of things you can do in the theater and not on film.” 

Among them are 26 musical numbers (so far), consisting of a wide variety of styles from the boisterous “Tabo-Tabo” that has cops and criminals dancing (separately) in the showers of a prison station; the bittersweet “Pelikula” that has Maxie escaping into the fantasy world of film; and the poignant “Love Letter,” where Maxie finally confesses his feelings to Victor. 

What remains intact is the spirit of the movie. “It’s about the loss of innocence,” says Mariano. “All of us have that period in our lives when we see that the world is not perfect, our parents have flaws… The story captures that very well.  The movie is about love, and it’s not about the gay angle. That Maxie is a gay boy is not an issue, but the fact that he happens to belong to a family of crooks. If the main character were a little girl, the movie would have worked as well, I think.”

At the same time, Mariano concedes, “We are benefiting from a time when gay-themed material is not as scandalous anymore as it was years ago.”

Last-minute casting
Jhayvot Galang, the 14-year-old who plays Maxie, is an openly gay boy accepted by his family. His was a last-minute casting that just might spawn a star turn. For months, the producers and artistic team could not find their main hero, until a friend posted on their Facebook wall a video of the young Galang auditioning in a noontime show. What Mariano saw impressed him so much that he tracked the boy’s address to his home in San Andres, Manila, and personally asked him to audition. 

“The minute he sang his first note, we knew we had our Maxie,” says Mariano. Galang was then sent to do the rounds of theater workshops to develop his acting and singing skills. 

Jojo Riguerra, who plays Victor, is a model and a theater actor who has done work for Gantimpala Theater and other companies. Aside from his thespian abilities and attractive features, what sold him to the artistic team was his six-foot height. 

“That was necessary to underline the disparity in the ages of Victor and Maxie,” says Mariano. Santos, who was in New York when they were casting for Victor, did the auditions through Skype. 

Positive response
Rehearsals are in full swing for the Nov. 9 opening, and the songs (by William Elvin Manzano, JJ Pimpinio and Janine Santos) and material are being fine-tuned. Mariano says he wants “a fun show that is movement-heavy… and with humor, power and delicacy.” 

He is happy that many are responding positively to news about the musical. Along with his business associate Carlo Miguel Francia, Mariano has been an active showbuyer of productions such as Dulaang UP’s “Orosman and Zafira” and New Voice Company’s “The Vagina Monologues.” “Maxie The Musicale” is the first show they are producing, and Mariano hopes it won’t be their last. 

“Right now, the economy is good, that’s why theater is growing and the middle class is watching,” he says. Beyond the businessman in him, though, is the dramatic arts buff who regularly trooped to the Cultural Center of the Philippines in his high school and college years to watch plays produced by Tanghalang Pilipino. 

“We have no illusions about being groundbreaking,” Mariano says. “We don’t want to produce Broadway material because there are already many who are doing that. We want to showcase Filipino talent—and we want to produce Filipino material.” 

Catch Maxie The Musical: on December 7 | Saturday | 8PM
Ticket Prices: 1200 (VIP), 1000 (Orchestra) and 800 (Balcony)

For reservations, contact:  Onay 0917.908.0565
Robert / RC Marzan 0922.888.5348
Jayme del Rosario 0927.202.2017
Ma-Ann Alimagno 0917.593.5895