Tuesday, May 12, 2015

‘Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady’: 5 reasons to watch the ‘yaya’ musical of the year

By Ma. Glaiza Lee | Lifestyle Section, InterAksyon.com
Original Article can be found HERE

The leading ladies of 'Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady.' In photo on the first row, from left are: Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Madre de Dios, Bituin Escalante as Mely, Kim Molina as Viva; second row, from left: Astarte Abraham as Madre de Dios, Frenchie Dy as Mely, and Natasha Cabrera as Viva. Photo courtesy of PETA.  
The leading ladies of ‘Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady.’ In photo on the first row, from left are: Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Madre de Dios, Bituin Escalante as Mely, Kim Molina as Viva; second row, from left: Astarte Abraham as Madre de Dios, Frenchie Dy as Mely, and Natasha Cabrera as Viva. Photo courtesy of Dalanghita Production.

Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady made a splash when it first came out as a one-act play-turned-graphic-novel at the annual Virgin Labfest in 2013. It revolves around two sisters, Mely and Viva, who both yearn to fulfill their dreams. Their sibling relationship and rivalry become more complicated due to an unsettled past and a budding romance, amid the ongoing war between the superheroes and supervillains. Being a maid is tough enough, but when Mely lands a job in the headquarters of the superheroes, she needs to step up for the sake of her family.

The one-act play comes back with a vengeance as a full-length play which is set to open on May 7 and will run for four weekends until June 7, at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City. Produced by Manila’s newest theater company Dalanghita Production, in cooperation with the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), playwright Carlo Vergara extended the story and added some music and dance choreography to create a full-length musical spectacle.
Here are five reasons to watch this “new and improved” musical.

1. It’s created by the same team behind Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal.
From the creator of Zsazsa Zaturnnah, playwright and graphic novelist Carlo Vergara created another superhero-themed musical, and it brings back the artistic team behind the well-received musical that enjoyed successful multiple stage runs.

Leading Lady will be directed by Chris Martinez, with music and lyrics by Vincent de Jesus. Tuxqs Rutaquio, who played Ada in the Zsazsa Zaturnnah musicale, takes part in the stage and costume designs. Completing the crew are Lambert de Jesus (technical director), John Batalla (lighting designer), Nancy Crowe (choreographer), Mara Marasigan (assistant director), and Ejay Yatco (assistant musical director).

2. It pays homage to maids, the Filipino household’s real-time superheroes.
No controversial yaya meals here, but a “Yaya Musical” instead, says Carlo Vergara who shared during a recent press conference that he wrote the story with house helpers in mind.

“I created my graphic novels with an idea that everyone can be a superhero. In Zsazsa Zaturnnah, for instance, it was the parlorista who became the superhero. In Leading Lady, it was the maid. Growing up, with house helpers around, I would see their lives. They would come and go, some would stay longer. But as you learn about their lives, you can’t help but admire them for living away from their families and trying to make both ends meet. The thigs that they do, when you think about it, they are like superheroes. They can do everything. This play is like a little ‘thank you,’ a way of honoring them,” shared Vergara.

“In the song ‘We Have A Maid,’ the cast sings it when they finally find a new maid. Sometimes, we read social media posts like ‘Wala kaming yaya‘ or ‘Umalis na ‘yung yaya namin‘ and one can really feel the sadness; then, maya-maya, you’ll see an update ‘Yehey, we are so happy, we found a new yaya.’ You can feel that a heavy burden has been lifted. I want to capture that energy. I think house helpers deserve a little more praise.”

3. It has a powerhouse cast.
Bringing the characters to life are the country’s established artists from the theater, television, and film industries. Leading the cast is the First Lady of Philippine Theater, Menchu Launchengco-Yulo, who will play Madre De Dios, the leader of the group of superheroes called Puwersa Pilipinas.

Alternating as Mely the Maid are Bituin Escalante and Frenchie Dy who are both known for their powerful vocals. Kim Molina and Natasha Cabrera alternate as Viva, Mely’s younger sister. Markki Stroem and Hans Eckstein share the role of Leading Man, the newest member of Fuwerza Filipinas.

The stellar list of cast members include May Bayot as the mother of Mely and Viva, Astarte Abraham who will be alternating as Madre De Dios; Giannina Ocampo as Nena Babushka; Caisa Borromeo as Windang Woman; Chesko Rodriguez as Popoy Pusakal; Jeff Flores as Bazooka Man; Nar Cabico and Domi Espejo alternating as Senyor Blangko, the leader of supervillain group Kayumanggilas; Red Nuestro as Marakas Marko; Red Concepcion as Itak-Atak; Elliot Eustacio as Jeryc Sans Rival; and Vince Lim and Mikoy Morales as Henyotik.

The ensemble is composed of Kakki Teodoro, Raflesia Bravo, Gab Pangilinan, JC Santos, Brian Sy, Rhenwyn Gabalonzo, Alejandro Santos and Joshua Cabiladas.

4. It has an insane plot.
The musical will take the audience through the journey of the characters as each one tries to find his/her place in the world where superheroes and supervillains exist. This original Filipino musical combines comedy, drama, romance, action, and deceptions, among others. It tackles the complexities of different relationships, from family to lovers, from friends and foes.

In a fantastical Philippines, the dry existence of the common folk is occassionally punctuated by the apperance of the greatest defenders of the republic, the Fuwerza Filipinas, a corporate-sponsored band of six superheroes. Though the common folk marvel at the grand exploits of these superheroes who are prone to often land on tabloid showbiz news, the public have little doubt that these heroes are beyond their reach.

But unknown to the public, the superheroes are struggling with a challenge: they have to find a maid. They used to have an army of housekeeping personnel, but because of a security breach caused by one of the housekeeping staff who had fallen in love with Leading Man, they now have none.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the city of the common folk, Mely Moran tries to make ends meet. 

Because her mother is unable to work and her sister Viva is not responsible enough, Mely takes whatever odd jobs her high-school education can give her, such as working as a domestic helper. Their mother scolds Viva for not being as industrious as Mely, but Viva believes that she is meant for greater things. Mely would also berate Viva, though she knows too well that she once did a terrible thing to her sister.

Mely eventually finds herself in the vast headquarters of Fuwerza Filipinas as the superheroes’ one and only housemaid. Viva, on the other hand, gets hired as well, for a job that promises her the kind of prestige she has long been dreaming of. The job, however, will require her to enter the Fuwerza Filipinas headquarters, as she is made to believe that the superheroes aren’t the supreme defenders they project themselves to be.

5. It is an original Filipino production.
From the story to music and lyrics, it is downright Filipino. And since it is fairly a new material, after Vergara has rejuvenated it into a full-length play, the audience can look forward to the fresh and the unexpected.

The new additions to an existing material has also become a challenge to the actors as they try to turn their respective roles, all rich and zany with backstories, into relatable characters.

Menchu Launchengco-Yulo enthused: “It is an original production. I came on the set with no idea what to do. It is like a clean slate. Most of the time when I portray a certain role, like for example in ‘Anna and the King,’ I already had an idea where Anna is leading to. I already have a model for the role. But with this one, I don’t have any. I have to start from scratch and build the character myself. And it is a good thing. It enhances an actor’s creativity when it comes to characterization. And it leads to creative exchanges among the cast members.”


on June 6 and June 7 (Saturday & Sunday) 3PM @ PETA Theater Center

Ticket Prices: 1200, 900 and 600

For June 6, 2015 | Saturday | 3PM
Text: Karl (0908.986.1896),  LA (0917.633.9448)  and/or Jayme (0917.770.2762) 

For June 7, 2015 | Sunday | 3PM
Text: Buena (0917.885.0091),  Dain (0917.592.4567)  and/or Onay (0917.908.0565)

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