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.
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.