Thursday, December 27, 2012

LES MISERABLES: At the Core of It is Exposition of Christian Virtues

Anne Hathaway (Fantine), Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean) in Tom Hooper's
film adaptation of the mega-musical "Les Miserables" (photo c/o Newsdesk)
by Oliver Oliveros,

"To love another person is to see the face of God."

 Colm Wilkinson's Bishop Myriel of Digne and Anne Hathaway's Fantine, together with Hugh Jackman's Jean Valjean, sung those arguably the most indelible lyrics by tail end in the Tom Hooper-helmed musical motion picture, "Les Miserables," a faithful film adaptation based on the 1987 Tony Award-winning musical, written by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil, and Herbert Kretzmer, which in turn was inspired by the French historical novel of the same name, published in 1862, by Victor Hugo, a well-known French Romantic poet and novelist who had evident antipathy toward the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church; but, interestingly, had high regard for the Church's doctrines.

Hooper's non-intrusive camerawork, which amounts to grandiose wide shots, especially during the sweeping melodic instrumental music played prior to or in between the sung parts, and medium close up shots, mostly one long takes filmed at least two minutes to capture the emotions of show-stopping solo numbers such as Valjean's "Soliloquy," Fantine's "I Dreamed a Dream," and Marius' (Eddie Redmayne) "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," aided the telling of the story, which at the core of it was the frequent exposition of Christian virtues of faith, hope, charity, mercy, and forgiveness.

Valjean, once imprisoned for 19 years at the infamous Bagne of Toulon in France for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family, broke parole - previously given by parole officer Javert (Russell Crowe) - to start a new life after a merciful bishop, from whom Valjean stole precious silverware, lied before several policemen to save the ex-convict from another arrest. The bishop subsequently told Valjean to use those silverware to live a life of an honest man, which the latter took to heart.

Nearly a decade later, Valjean had assumed a new identity as Monsieur Madeleine, an appointed mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer and a factory owner, whose former factory worker Fantine fell into the trap of prostitution in order to pay debt to the Thenardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter), corrupt inn keepers who had Fantine's illegitimate child, Cosette (Isabelle Allen), left in their care.

With complete sympathy for the almost dying Fantine, Valjean pulled out all the stops to recover Cosette from the cunning, scheming Thenardiers, and to see Cosette grow into a fine young lady (Amanda Seyfried); while Javert continued his obsessive quest to bring Valjean back to prison.

More than 60 million people around the world have seen at least one production of the stage musical, produced by British theater impresario Cameron Mackintosh, that could translate to a captured audience that would buy a movie ticket and check out Jackman, Crowe, Hathaway, Cohen, Carter et. al's highly publicized live singing (by the way, Crowe lacks the vocal chops and wears a poker face to be taken seriously as the antagonist Javert) and these A-list actors' take on Hugo's well-drawn characters; or would probably revisit the musical's most endearing show tunes, "I Dreamed a Dream," "On My Own," and "Do You Hear the People Sing?" among others.

Jackman and Hathaway's Golden Globe-worthy nominated performances would pull the viewers' heartstrings. However, integral to those emotionally-charged performances, including Redmayne and Samantha Barks' (Eponine, daughter of the Thenardiers), were, again, more Christian themes such as love in various forms (spiritual, maternal, and paternal, among others), morality, and salvation that would touch even the non-believers, no less; but would much more resonate among the religious individuals in the audience.

On the surface, "Les Miserables" can move one to tears because of its characters' intertwined melodramatic destinies, poignant songs with ear-shattering crescendos, and bittersweet denouement.

On a deeper level, the film can also be deemed a Christian movie in disguise, which may come off as too preachy and tacky to some.

Working Title/Cameron Mackintosh's movie adaptation of the mega-musical "Les Miserables" opens across the Philippines on Wednesday, January 16.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Photo Coverage: MiG Ayesa's Solo Rock Concert in Queens

MiG Ayesa and Jon Skibic (photo by Rex Romero)
by Oliver Oliveros,

New York, December 17, 2012 - The night started off with original compositions ("High," "Summer Feeling," and "Nothing You Do," among others) and a few show tunes from two smash Broadway shows ("Burn the Floor," "Rock of Ages"): MiG Ayesa, "Rock Star: INXS" finalist-turned-bona fide Broadway rock star, dishing out hard rock, soulful vocals while playing the keyboard; Jon Skibic, "Rock of Ages" guitarist, strumming his electric guitar while listening closely to Ayesa - both perfectly played in sync.

However, during halftime at Ayesa's concert at Perlas bar and restaurant in Woodside, Queens Saturday night, the crowd went wilder. Filipino-American rock band Kayumanggi joined Ayesa on stage, which unarguably raised the roof and drove the audience to stand up and dance to popular pop rock songs such as "Hey, Soul Sister," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," and "Last Christmas."

As an additional treat for the audience, some came from as far as Hamilton in Canada and Berkeley in Ohio, Ayesa, who was born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, delivered a well-received premiere of his cover version of Filipino rock anthem "Salamat" (Thank you) by The Dawn, the Philippines' most popular rock band in the '80s.

Fresh off his stints at the Manila premiere of "Rock of Ages," where he reprised his Broadway role as Stacee Jaxx, and in the West End's "Thriller Live," a tribute concert to the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson, Ayesa is now warming up for his next major gig: Queen and Ben Elton's jukebox musical "We Will Rock You" 10th Anniversary World Arena Tour, which kicks off in Turku, Finland in February 2013.

Performances at arenas in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Holland, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Turkey, Bulgaria, Ireland, Japan, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, are being laid out for "We Will Rock You" world tour, where Ayesa will reprise his role as Galileo Figaro, alongside Kevin Kennedy as Pop and Brenda Edwards as Killer Queen.

Ayesa made his Broadway debut in the dance musical "Burn the Floor" two years ago; he graced the Broadway stage anew when he played the infamous role of Stacee Jaxx in "Rock of Ages" return engagement on Broadway last year.

For more photos, click HERE.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Breaking News: Confirmed! Cameron Mackintosh to Restage MISS SAIGON in 2014

by Oliver Oliveros,

New York, December 8, 2012 — Theater producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh has just confirmed with The Philippine Star entertainment editor and columnist, Ricky Lo, that plans for the highly anticipated revival of mega-musical “Miss Saigon” are underway for 2014. Lo was able to interview Mackintosh at the Tokyo premiere of “Les Miserables” movie, where the writer mentioned the recent auditions held in Manila to the British producer.

“Speaking of ‘Miss Saigon,’ there were auditions in Manila just three weeks ago and six [seven] actresses were chosen as ‘finalists.’ Are you really restaging the musical?” Lo asked Mackintosh.

“Yes, I’m going to restage ‘Miss Saigon’ in London as soon as I find the theater. In fact, yes, you’re right…we have started preliminary auditions. When we did the show in London 25 years ago, we spent over a year looking for the cast. I hope that in the next 18 months it would be back in London. The new version has just opened here in Japan and it’s a phenomenal success. It’s going to be a different production but still the same great 'Miss Saigon,'” Mackintosh told Lo.

Read the transcript of the interview with Mackintosh HERE.

On a separate occasion, Hollywood Foreign Press Association chairman, Ruben Nepales, has also confirmed with, through regional editor Oliver Oliveros, that Mackintosh was indeed pleased with the outcome of the auditions in Manila. Nepales bumped into Mackintosh at one of the press junkets for “Les Miserables” movie in Manhattan last Monday.

The first international auditions for the London revival production of “Miss Saigon,” which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2014, were held at the Philippine Opera Company’s headquarters in Manila on November 19 to 22. More than 1,000 aspirants showed up; and at least seven female auditionees were shortlisted: local celebrities Rachelle Ann Go (Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”), Frencheska Farr (“Emir”), and Aicelle Santos (“Party Pilipinas”), and thespians Tanya Manalang (“The King and I”) and Apple Chiu (“The King and I”), among a few others, made it to the final round of auditions.

Male auditionees Bran Vargas, Khaya Maseko, Albert Job Bautista ("Rent"), Topper Fabregas ("Sweet Charity"), Noel Rayos ("Walang Sugat"), Eden Ang (“Spring Awakening"), Red Concepcion ("Equus"), Richardson Yadao, Lorenz Martinez ("The King and I"), Carlon Matobato (“William”), and Victor Sy, among others, also made the shortlist.

“We’re potentially looking for a lot of people because Cameron Mackintosh has a lot of different projects. For instance, ‘Miss Saigon’ would need to have three Kims in it (because of vacation schedules): We’re looking for the main actor, also the first understudy, and the second understudy. The same applies to all the lead characters. We’ll see,” music supervisor Stephen Brooker, one of the audition panelists, told Philippines.

“We’ve seen nearly over a thousand people in four days; and at various levels, everybody can sing. I’ve never known a country that has so many good singers. Obviously, there's a wonderful culture of singing here in the Philippines. It’s wonderful to see that amount of commitment, and how much love there is for music,” Brooker added.

No final casting choices were announced after the auditions.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

BWW Interviews: Tony Winner David Gallo Talks What's Appealing About Doing Theater in the Philippines

Tony Award-winning scenic designer David Gallo as photographed by Oliver Oliveros
By Oliver Oliveros,

Every person that I’ve dealt with in the Philippines has been wonderful. The desire to get it right there is very strong. – David Gallo

New York, December 4, 2012 — Prolific Manila-based theater company Atlantis Productions’ (Disney’s “Aladdin,” “In the Heights”) much-lauded production of Maury Yeston’s Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Nine” had cast some of local tinseltown’s brightest, biggest stars — from show biz royalty Cherie Gil to TV soap opera star Eula Valdez to you-name-it. However, prior to these stars’ descent on stage, unarguably, another colossal “star” was already preset on that stage at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater, and had caught Manila theatergoers by surprise; that “star” of the show belonged to Tony Award-winning scenic designer David Gallo’s (“Drowsy Chaperone,” “Memphis”) larger-than-life, multi-step, and geometric Asian spa-inspired set design for “Nine.”

Gallo, whose imposing set for “Nine” has been nominated for Best Set Design at the 2012 BroadwayWorld Philippines Awards, and whose works on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and in many international theater productions are known for their physical largeness, has been wanting to do “Nine.”

“The show’s completely different from your normal song-and-dance musical: It has dream-like quality; it has a great score; it’s a very cerebral musical; and it also puts these incredibly beautiful women on display. Who wouldn’t want to do that?” Gallo told in an exclusive interview at his design studio in Midtown Manhattan.

Probably unknown to many, Gallo’s stint with “Nine” was his second in the Philippines; the first was with Broadway Asia’s international touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” which premiered at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2008, starring Tony winner Lea Salonga, and directed by Bobby Garcia, “Nine’s” director as well.

“I worked on ‘Cinderella’ for several weeks. There was a tremendous amount of prop work that had to be done; there was a lot of craft that had to be accomplished. So I brought over Pete Sarafin, who’s one of my main prop people, as my assistant. We spent a huge amount of time exploring all of the markets, small stores, and downtown alleyways. It was just an incredible experience of completely sinking into the daily life in Manila,” he said.

“Whereas for ‘Nine,’ I only spent 10 days [Gallo oversaw the previews, opening night prior to traveling to Hong Kong for another project]. I had associates at Atlantis Productions: Lex Marcos, a great designer in his own right, and Lawyn Cruz. Those two took care of everything for me. The set was already standing on stage when I got there.”

Was His Set for “Nine” Expensive? 

“It was a pretty elaborate set for what they usually do in that theater. And yes, that set was expensive,” revealed Gallo.

“However, working with Bobby [Garcia] is very different because he’s a director/producer and a family friend. His understanding of the budget and the necessity of sticking to what works within the context of Atlantis is very important to him. I think the budget for ‘Nine’ was handled very well. No one ever came to me and said that ‘you have to make this kind of cut’ or ‘we can’t afford this and that.’ They pretty much accepted the design as it came off my table,” he added. 

What Attracts Him to Working in the Philippines? 

As of this writing, Gallo is fresh off a vacation at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida with his wife, Sarah, and their two children; and without missing a beat, Gallo and his wife, who also functions as his business/studio manager, are also all set for their next overseas work: this time for Dreamworks’ “Madagascar Live!” tours in nine cities in the United Kingdom.

However, Gallo’s fondness to do more work in the Philippines in the near future remains intact.

“I’m currently in talks for a ‘top secret’ project in the Philippines,” said Gallo.

“I love working in the Philippines because every person that I’ve dealt with there has been wonderful. The desire to get it right there is very strong. Everybody has the same kind of ‘theater spark’ that I think we all started off with. You kind of get jaded throughout the years. The gloss starts to sort of rub off on you inevitably. But all the people there, no matter how long they’ve been in the business, they all have that incredible energy and enthusiasm for what they’re doing — in every person: from the director to the choreographer to the stage manager (even the person in charge of support services). It’s just great to be around people that really care so much.”

As a scenic designer, Gallo’s basic job is to help tell the story, and provide a physical environment for the play to take place.  His set for “Nine” was conceived in order to tell that story.

“My set was nothing; it was just an inanimate object. The work that Bobby did, the cast did, and the choreographers and the lighting people did — they all told a really clear story. My gratitude is really for the people who helped me tell the story, and the audience members who got the story,” he said.

“I wish that the show could have had a longer run; I wish more people would get to see the work,” he sighed.

For more information on Gallo, visit his official website at

To vote for his design at the 2012 BroadwayWorld Philippines Awards, click HERE.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Local Disney Princesses Make it to MISS SAIGON Final Auditions

Rachelle Ann Go (Ariel), Erik Santos (Prince
Eric) in the Asian premiere of Disney's
"The Little Mermaid" by Atlantis Productions;
Photo c/o Atlantis Productions
By Oliver Oliveros,

Manila, Philippines, November 21, 2012 ­— Local Disney princesses Rachelle Ann Go, who played the title role in the Asian premiere of Disney’s stage musical adaptation of “The Little Mermaid,” and K-La Rivera, who is currently playing the role of Princess Jasmine in the Asian premiere of Disney’s stage musical adaptation of “Aladdin,” both made it to the final round of auditions, mainly dance auditions, for the much-talked-about “Miss Saigon” tryouts, which began last Monday, November 19, and will end tomorrow, Thursday, November 22 at the Opera Haus, Philippine Opera Company’s newly opened headquarters in Makati City.

British choreographer Geoffrey Garratt (“Mary Poppins,” “Oliver!”) has just arrived in Manila for the last leg of the auditions, which have attracted nearly 1,000 aspirants coming from the Philippines, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand.

Garratt completes the auditioning panel made up of executive producer Trevor Jackson (“The Phantom of the Opera,” “Oliver!”), stage director Laurence Connor (“Les Miserables,” “Miss Saigon"), musical supervisor Stephen Brooker (“My Fair Lady,” “Les Miserables”), and Cameron Mackintosh’s representative in the Philippines, Dong Alegre (“Miss Saigon”).

Contrary to previous media reports that these auditions were meant to cast for a supposedly “Miss Saigon” revival production in London next year, notices posted on walls at the audition venue have indicated that “These auditions seek to find suitable candidates to play the role of Kim and the male and female Asian ensemble performers for future productions of ‘Miss Saigon’…There shall be no cast announcements made during the course of the audition exercise. As in past auditions, this audition exercise is ‘exploratory’ in nature.”

Besides Go and Rivera, seasoned theater actors Jun Ofrasio, Topper Fabregas, Noel Rayos, and Lorenz Martinez; and opera singers Marian Santiago and Kelly Peralejo, among others (BroadwayWorld does not have a complete list as of this writing) were also told to show up at the dance auditions tomorrow.

Other local celebrities and thespians Angeline Quinto, Ciara Sotto, Karylle Tatlonghari, OJ Mariano, Cathy Azanza, Sitti Navarro, and Laarni Lozada did not make the final round.

BroadwayWorld Philippines’ news team will be tweeting live from the audition venue tomorrow.

Make sure you follow us on

Sunday, November 11, 2012

'Like Broadway, PH theater can go global'

 By Miguel Dumaual, 

MANILA, Philippines -- Like a number of original Broadway and West End shows that have made it to Philippine shores, theater productions originating here also have a "chance to shine" overseas.

As shown by touring productions and adaptations of foreign plays staged in the Philippines, theater has become a global enterprise, according to Oliver Oliveros, editor at theater news website BroadwayWorld (BWW) Philippines.

The Philippine BWW website is the local counterpart of the leading theater news site in the United States and the United Kingdom, and is one of over 20 international editions of the online news source.

"We believe that anything that's coming from theater, specifically Broadway, is already global," Oliveros told ANC Alerts in an interview on Friday.

"Like for instance, Disney's 'Little Mermaid' opened on Broadway three years ago, and then last year it opened in Manila," added the New York-based theater enthusiast.

In November 2011, local theater production company Atlantis Productions brought the stage adaptation of the classic Disney film to the Philippines, with former Kapamilya singer Rachelle Ann Go taking on the role of Ariel.

Atlantis Productions also staged Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," and is now set to bring yet another animated classic to the local theater scene, via Disney's "Aladdin."

On top of international touring productions visiting the country -- “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Mamma Mia!” and Cirque du Soleil's "Varekai" recently staged shows here -- other local theater companies have also taken inspiration from foreign plays, with Repertory Philippines' "Jekyll and Hyde" and Resorts World Manila's "Sound of Music" enjoying their respective runs.

"It has legs already," Oliveros said, referring to productions originating from Broadway and the West End, "So we believe it's global. Anything that's happening here (New York), can happen in Manila."

Oliveros also believes that, like these foreign productions, original Filipino theater has equal chance to go "global."

"We believe in equality. Here in New York, it's diverse, everybody is equal, everybody has a chance to shine. That's what we wanted as well to happen in the Philippines -- everybody has a chance to shine, local or international," Oliveros said, explaining the objective of BWW Philippines' sophomore list of local nominees for its annual online poll-driven awards.

The local theater news website earlier this week announced the nominees for this year's BWW Philippines Awards. According to Oliveros, around 4,000 entries were submitted as nominations over the last month -- compared to last year's mere 500.

"I'm so happy that BroadwayWorld is opening a platform for local artists and productions to be known in the other side of the world," Oliveros said, referring to the online polls.

As such, it has devoted several categories to Filipino plays and musicals, with Tanghalang Pilipino's "Walang Kukurap," Gatimpala Theater Foundation's "Kanser," and Philippine Educational Theater Association's "Bona" among those nominated.

Pointing to the growing interest of Filipinos in theater over the last few years, Oliveros said it was high time BWW Philippines recognized local stage talents.

"Two years ago, my team realized that the Philippines is ready for the same awards because of the readership coming from the Philippines, so we launched it last year," he said.

"This is happening [simultaneously] all over the world and in other states in the US," Oliveros added.

Filipino theater fans can vote online for their favorites in the 2012 BWW Philippines Awards until December 15.

Partial results can be seen after casting a vote, but are still subject to auditing to remove fake, duplicate and other invalid votes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

MISS SAIGON London Revival Audition Requirements Released

by Oliver Oliveros,

Register for the Manila auditions from Saturday, November 17 to Sunday, November 18. 

London auditions will be scheduled as well. 

New York, October 22, 2012 — Cameron Mackintosh has set his eyes on opening the revival production of “Miss Saigon” in London’s West End next year. “Miss Saigon,” which is two years shy of its 25th anniversary, is Mackintosh’s third most successful musical theater venture after Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera,” and Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s “Les Miserables.”

Mackintosh’s creative team for the 2013 West End revival of “Miss Saigon,” which includes executive producer Trevor Jackson, director Laurence Connor, musical supervisor Stephen Brooker, choreographer Geoffrey Garrett, and Mackintosh’s Philippine representative Dong Alegre, is looking for three “Kims” and at least seven Asian ensemble performers (male and female) at the auditions that will be held in Manila on Monday, November 19 to Thursday, November 22 at the Opera Haus at 3657 Bautista St. (near the corner of Buendia Avenue), Makati City.

Auditions in London will be scheduled as well.

Below are the audition requirements for the roles of “Kim” and the Asian ensemble performers:

Kim: 16 to 25-year-old mezzo-soprano. Kim, a Vietnamese, is pretty and naïve; she is strong-willed and youthful, but must have a strong stage presence. She must demonstrate English language proficiency. Some dance experience preferred.

Asian Ensemble Performers: 18 to 35-year-old male or female with an Asian/Eurasian features, and a strong singing voice. The performer must demonstrate English language proficiency. Some dance experience preferred.

For the Manila auditions, please register at the Opera Haus on Saturday, November 17 to Sunday, November 18. Bring a photo and a CV.

Prepare a song from “Miss Saigon” (a pianist will accompany the auditionee).

The auditionee may also bring a music score or an accompaniment CD.

For further inquiries, call 63 (915) 8463269 or visit “Miss Saigon” Auditions 2012 on FB.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Breaking News: West End Revival of MISS SAIGON to Hold Auditions in Manila, 11/19-22

By Oliver Oliveros,

Cameron Mackintosh and Dong Alegre, the representative of Mackintosh in the Philippines, will hold the Manila auditions for the West End revival of one of Mackintosh's late ‘80s mega musicals, “Miss Saigon,” at Philippine Opera Company's brand-new headquarters, the Opera Haus (3657 Bautista St., Makati City), on Monday, November 19 until Thursday, November 22.

 “’Miss Saigon’s’ executive producer, director, choreographer, and musical director will be flying in from London to hold auditions for the restaging of the hit musical, which paved the way for Filipino talents such as Lea Salonga, Monique Wilson, and Isay Alvarez, among others to shine on the world stage,” said Alegre.

“They will be holding auditions for the role of Kim [a 17-year-old Vietnamese bar girl, originally played by Salonga and Wilson in London]. They are also looking for ensemble cast members,” added Alegre. 

“Miss Saigon,” a sung-through musical, features music by “Les Miserables” collaborators Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, and lyrics by Boublil and “Closer Than Ever’s” Richard Maltby, Jr., based on Giacomo Puccini’s popular opera “Madame Butterfly.”

The most familiar songs from the musical include “Sun and Moon,” “Last Night of the World,” “The Movie in my Mind,” and “American Dream.”

Audition requirements will be announced soon.

Like "Miss Saigon": 2012 Auditions page on FB.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Sponsor a Poor Child to See THE WIZARD OF OZ, 9/30

Cara Barredo, James Stacey, Hans Eckstein, and Oliver Usison in Repertory
Philippines' production of "The Wizard of Oz"; photo by Raul Victor Montesa
By Oliver Oliveros,

Manila, Philippines, September 9, 2012 — Repertory Philippines (Rep), the country’s premier English-speaking theater company, is looking for sponsors to take more than 250 poor children, who live in Cavite and Quezon City, to Rep’s ongoing children’s theater production, “The Wizard of Oz,” at Onstage, 2/F Greenbelt One, Makati City on Tuesday, September 30 at 2:30 p.m.

“The Wizard of Oz” is considered one of the greatest children’s stories of all time. With awe-inspiring special effects that sweep audiences away (theater reviewers have mentioned those, too), “The Wizard of Oz” allows children to experience both musical and dance numbers from the show’s different characters led by Dorothy, a young farm girl from Kansas, as she befriends a scarecrow, a tin man, and a lion to avoid the clutches of the Wicked Witch of the West and to find the mighty Wizard.

“We should encourage our children as early as three years old to watch musical productions to help them develop their creativity and imagination,” said Joy Virata, artistic director of Rep’s Children’s Theater, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Rep’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” is an adaptation of the all-time classic tale, with music by Jeanne Bargy and Jim Eiler, and book and lyrics by Eiler. This particular presentation does not include any of the songs from the popular MGM film of the same name (ergo, the Academy Award winning song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is not part of the repertoire).

To sponsor a child, call (632) 5716926 or 5714941, email, or log on to

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Photo Coverage: On Stage with THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in Manila

Jonathan Roxmouth as the Phantom, and Claire Lyon
as Christine Daae; photo by Jory Rivera
by Oliver Oliveros,

Manila, Philippines, August 29, 2012 — Broadway’s longest-running mega musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera,” which came on the heels of the international touring productions of “Cats” and “Mamma Mia!” in Manila, finally made its Philippine premiere on Saturday, August 25 at the main theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Nearly 100 tons of set pieces and props; more than 700 stage lighting equipment and accessories; and around 230 Victorian style costumes by the late production designer Maria Björnson were shipped from South Africa, where the international touring cast last performed. Seasoned South African actors Jonathan Roxmouth (Phantom) and Anthony Downing (Raoul), and Australian soprano Claire Lyon (Christine) headline the Manila production, which runs until Sunday, September 30.

“The Phantom of the Opera,” which premiered at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End in 1986, and opened on Broadway at Majestic Theatre in New York City in 1988, tells the story of a disfigured musical genius’ shadowy existence, and his love for the beautiful, talented ingénue, Christine Daaé.

The musical, which has played to more than 130 million people across the world, contains some of Webber’s most popular songs, including the title song, “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Think of Me,” “All I Ask of You,” and “Music of the Night.”

Producers Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, David Atkins Enterprises, Hi-Definition Radio Inc. and Concertus Manila, in association with The Really Useful Group, held a press preview on Tuesday, August 28. photographer Jory Rivera was there, and captured snippets of performances by Roxmouth and Lyon, singing the final part of the title song, plus performances by Lyon, Downing, and the rest of the ensemble, singing and dancing to Act Two’s opening musical number, “Masquerade.”

For more photos, click HERE.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Photo Flash: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA Manila Cast Meet the Press

Guy Simpson, Dondi Ong, Claire Lyon, Anthony Downing, and Jonathan
Roxmouth at the press conference; photo credit: Concertus Manila
by Oliver Oliveros,

Manila, Philippines, August 17, 2012 ­ — Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, David Atkins Enterprise, Radio High Definition, Concertus Manila, and Diamond Hotel recently held a press conference to introduce Anthony Downing (Raoul), Claire Lyon (Christine), Jonathan Roxmouth (Phantom), and Dondi Ong (Piangi) — the main cast of the international touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” that will premiere at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ main theater next Saturday, August 25, and will run until Sunday, September 30.

Trained in South Africa and in London, Downing has been performing in musicals and dance productions, and has been acting in television programs and films.

A graduate from the University of Melbourne (B.A. in Music Performance), Lyon recently played the role of Christine in the Australian production of “Love Never Dies,” the sequel to “The Phantom of the Opera.” 

Roxmouth, who was born and raised in South Africa, is Best Leading Actor in a Musical (“The Phantom of the Opera”) at this year’s Fleur Du Cap Theater Awards in South Africa.

Ong, a Filipino tenor who had to go through four rounds of strenuous auditions with musical director Guy Simpson, is the lone Filipino cast member in this production of the mega musical.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Christian Bautista, Karylle to Star in Ballet Philippines' RAMA HARI, 11/30-12/9

Christian Bautista and Karylle Tatlonghari; photo credit: Stages 
by Oliver Oliveros,

Ballet Philippines’ NEO FILIPINO: ANTING runs for one weekend.

Manila, Philippines, August 10, 2012 — International television stars Christian Bautista and Karylle Tatlonghari, who recently appeared in “The Kitchen Musical,” a Singaporean musical drama television series, and who first shared the musical theater stage via a local production of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s “West Side Story” several years ago, will lend their star power to Ballet Philippines’ (BP) revival of ballet musical “Rama Hari” from Friday, November 30 to Sunday, December 9 at the CCP Main Theater.

“Rama Hari,” which was originally performed by BP in the early ‘80s, starring Original Pilipino Music (OPM) luminaries Kuh Ledesma, Basil Valdez, and Leo Valdez, is a dance musical adaptation of the Indian epic “Ramayana,” featuring choreography by BP founder Alice Reyes, libretto by National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, music by Ryan Cayabyab, and set, costume designs by National Artist for Theater Design Salvador Bernal.

“Rama Hari” follows the adventures of Rama (Bautista), an Indian prince who moves heaven and earth to rescue his wife Sita (Tatlonghari), who was abducted by the evil king Ravana, which will be played by “Miss Saigon” alumnus Robert Seña

Cayabyab will conduct the Manila Symphony Orchestra for this production.

Prior to the return of “Rama Hari,” BP will also stage Filipino dramatist Tony Perez’ "Neo-Filipino: Anting,” which explores mystical amulets and talismans that come from Filipino folklore through dance, at the CCP Little Theater for one weekend only: Friday, September 14 to Sunday, September 16.

The dances, featuring music by Jed Balsamo, Jerrold Tarod, Teresa Barrozo, and Israel Rodriguez, will be interpreted by BP Artistic Director Paul Alexander Morales, BP Associate Artistic Director Christine Crame, BP alumnus and E-Dance Theatre Artistic Director Gerald Mercado, and Airdance Artistic Director Ava Villanueva-Ong.

For tickets to “Rama Hari” and “Neo Filipino: Anting,” call BP at (632) 551-1003 or Ticketworld at (632) 891-9999 or visit

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

TP Cancels WALANG SUGAT Opening Due to Flooding in Manila

First look at Tanghalang Pilipino's "Walang Sugat," directed by Carlitos
Siguion-Reyna; photo credit: Tanghalang Pilipino
by Oliver Oliveros,

Co-written by Precious Lee Cundangan

Manila, Philippines, August 7, 2012 ­— Tanghalang Pilipino (TP), the resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), cancels the opening weekend of its production of Severino Reyes’ sarsuwela "Walang Sugat” due to flooding in Metro Manila.

“… we wish to inform our valued subscribers, patrons, guests, and ticket holders of ‘Walang Sugat’ that we are cancelling the 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. opening performances of 'Walang Sugat' on Thursday, August 9 and the rest of the performances this weekend, Friday, August 10 to Sunday, August 12. We will, instead, open next week, Thursday, August 16,” said Nanding Josef, TP’s artistic director, and Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, the show’s director, in a media advisory.

“We also wish to inform the public that we are accepting donations — in cash or in kind — for the flood victims before and after the performances. We also plan to do a special fundraising performance of 'Walang Sugat' for the same cause. TP commits itself not only to the promotion of the Filipino Artist’s craft, but also to community service and crisis assistance,” they added.

“Walang Sugat” tells the love story of Julia and Tenyong whose forbidden relationship had been further hampered by their social status, political, and religious beliefs during the height of the Philippine revolutionary movement against the Spanish colonizers in 1896-1898.

Its libretto was originally penned by Reyes, a forerunner of Philippine sarsuwela (Reyes is also popularly known for his short stories-turned-classic children’s book “Lola Basyang").

For this production of “Walang Sugat,” TP makes use of Reyes' original script with additional lines by Nick Tiongson, a leading Filipino critic. Fulgencio Tolentino, Constancio de Guzman, and Mike Velarde composed its poetic, haunting but sometimes naughty musical strains — a familiar dichotomy between arias and recitatives.

Chino Toledo, whose additional music is also featured in this production, is musical director; Nonoy Froilan is choreographer; Tuxqs Rutaquio is set designer; James Reyes of Slims Fashion and Arts School is costume designer; and Katsch Catoy is lighting designer.

The show stars Cris Villonco as Julia, and Noel Rayos and Antonio Ferrer as Tenyong.

Tickets to the opening weekend performances will be valid either on new performance dates or on preferred performance dates of the ticket holder, subject to availability of seats.

Ticket holders may contact Cherry Bong Edralin at 639177500107, Lei Celestino at 639156072275, and Enzo Marco at 69353784781 or the TP office at (632) 8321125 locals 1620 or 1621.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

First Look at Leo Valdez & Monique Wilson in THE KING AND I

Leo Valdez, Monique Wilson in "The King And I"; photo credit: Jonas Abueva
by Oliver Oliveros,

Manila, Philippines, July 28, 2012 — “Miss Saigon” alumni Leo Valdez and Monique Wilson were first seen as the King of Siam and British governess Anna Leonowens, respectively, at the press conference for Resorts World Manila’s (RWM) grand production of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s “The King And I” held Saturday, July 28 at Newport Performing Arts Theater.

Directed by multi-awarded stage director Freddie Santos, “The King And I” follows RWM’s phenomenal run of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music,” which ran for eight months.

Besides Valdez and Wilson, the production also features Shiela Valderrama (Anna Leonowens), Bo Cerrudo (King), Gina Respall (Lady Thiang), Apple Chiu (Lady Thiang), Tanya Manalang (Tuptim), Marian Santiago (Tuptim), Lorenz Martinez (Lun Tha), and Floyd Tena (Lun Tha).

RWM’s “The King And I” premieres Saturday, September 15.

Friday, July 27, 2012

BWW Reviews: Less is More for NYMF's PRISON DANCER

by Oliver Oliveros,

Jeigh Madjus is Lola. Photo credit:  Billy B. 
One of New York Musical Theatre Festival’s (NYMF) fastest-selling shows, “Prison Dancer,” an original screenplay turned into a web series turned into a stage musical by Romeo Candido (music, lyrics, and book) and Carmen de Jesus (book), veers away from the hugeness of its viral hit inspiration — a video uploaded to YouTube in 2007 that boasts around 1,500 male inmates of Cebu, Philippines’ Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center dancing in sync with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” — by using its two-hour storytelling to explore more about the personal lives of a handful, fictitious prisoners instead, interspersed with a lively dose of Filipino cultural and religious quirks, and with a heavy R&B/club-ish score not often used for a musical.

Lola, an adorable cross-dresser (played by Jeigh Madjus who exudes a gay demeanor that is not wildly exaggerated), clad in a long nightgown adorned with fuschia feathers, which is later disrobed to reveal an orangey coloured short shorts and sports bra getup, opens and narrates the show told almost entirely in flashback. His Greek chorus-duo of sorts, Oo Oo (played by Nathan Ramos) and Nana (played by Enrico Rodriguez), the only two characters that do not have backstories, are reliable comic sidekicks, back-up singers and dancers.

Inside prison walls, the audience members — a diverse mix ­— are introduced to the facility’s other four inhabitants: Hookaps, the tough boys’ anointed leader (played by Marc Delacruz who channels boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao); Tondo, a supposedly isolated death-row inmate who faces execution in two months (played by Albert Guerzon who is given a longer exposure time here compared to his current job at “Ghost” on Broadway), strangely so, freely interacts and dances with his fellow convicts; Shakespeare, Lola’s object of affection and dance partner (played by Moses Villarama who turns in a finely nuanced and bold performance; and who also doubles as the production’s acoustic guitarist when the spotlight dims on him); and Christian, the anti-social, introverted new kid on the block (played by Broadway veteran Jose Llana whose solo number in Act Two, “Typhoon,” brings out the toughest, strongest vocal performance from the actor).

Jose Llana is Christian; Catherine Ricafort is Cherish. Photo credit:
Billy B.
Lending support, a.k.a. non-dancing actors, are Andrew Eisenman who plays the techy warden that elects Lola to teach the inmates some groovy moves as part of their daily exercise routine, whose video footage he would anxiously share with the online world via YouTube; and Marcus Calderon who plays the ineluctable, emotionless cellblock’s guard.

“Mamma Mia!” on Broadway’s current cast member Catherine Ricafort, who plays Cherish, Christian’s girlfriend who believes in evergreen love stories, lights up the stage whenever she is on it; hers is a sweet singing voice that can get thicker, deeper when needed. Ricafort and Llana look smashing together.

The musical’s creative and production team’s intimate approach works well on that small performance space at the Theatre at St. Clements, which effectively depicts the play’s setting of a supposedly crowded prison through the functional use of Josh Zangen’s movable jail bars and makeshift brick walls, and Betsy Adams' consistently sparse lighting, which helps evoke a sordid milieu amid the overnight social media fame of its occupants.

The cast of "Prison Dancer" (the stage musical); photo credit: Billy B.
I personally find myself wanting for a big signature dance number that is expected from dance-oriented musicals though, i.e. the rip-roaring swing dances in “Memphis” or the endless turns and pirouettes in “Newsies,” which, on second thought, could be a bit far-fetched because of the production’s intimate nature.

Nonetheless, "Prison Dancer" is brimming with sheer Filipino talent and thick Filipino accent seldom experienced on New York stages.

“Prison Dancer” plays its last weekend tomorrow, Friday, July 27, 5 p.m.; and Saturday, July 28, 5 and 9 p.m. For tickets, visit

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

BWW Interviews: POTTED POTTER's Dan & Jeff Talk New Cast in Manila Run, Memories of the Philippines & More

"Potted Potter" marquee at Little Shubert
Theatre; photo credit: Oliver Oliveros
by Oliver Oliveros,

Going to any new country we never had a show before is an honor. We’re loving America at the moment; it goes the same for the Philippines. – Jeff Turner, co-creator and star of “Potted Potter”

“Potted Potter” premieres in Manila on Tuesday, August 28, and runs until Sunday, September 2.

New York, July 24, 2012 – During a Saturday evening performance of “Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience,” a parody by double Laurence Olivier nominees Daniel “Dan” Clarkson and Jefferson “Jeff” Turner, at Little Shubert Theatre on 42nd Street, kids show up with “Harry Potter” collectibles in tow: golden snitches, wizard wands, and Horcrux lockets; some grown-ups even put on Hogwarts apprentices’ robes – the “Harry Potter” movie saga may have made its final bow a year ago, but the “Potter” phenomenon continues to live and grow.

“When we started doing “Potted Potter” [potted means abridged in colloquial British English] seven years ago, we were huge ‘Potter’ fans. It’s a loving homage parody. So everything we do is love for the book. We never in any point disrespect the book and its characters because we didn’t want to go against the fans that we want. We’d rather do this in a fun way. The fans of “Potter” are so huge. Even tonight, there were people dressed in their robes, with their wizard wands. And these are not just kids, we have a full-grown woman dressed as Dumbledore, which is terrifying. When you see a middle-aged woman dressed as Dumbledore is a scary thing. But you don’t mess with these fans,” says Dan in an exclusive interview with

Jefferson "Jeff" Turner, Daniel "Dan" Clarkson; photo credit:
Rolando Gatilao
However, Dan and Jeff’s 70-minute (with no intermission) tribute show does not only cater to Potterheads or die-hard “Potter” fans. Based on the mixed crowds the production has been getting since it opened on Off-Broadway early last month, “Potted Potter” also appeals to those who have not read J.K. Rowling’s seven “Potter” books or who have not seen their movie counterparts. In fact, Dan and Jeff have written the show with their extreme audiences in mind: In “Potted Potter,” which is an engrossing quick guide to the “Potter” books, albeit with outworn slapstick devices every once in a while, Dan plays the “Potter” neophyte, who dons funny wigs and numerous headdresses depicting various “Potter” characters, e.g. Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Professor Dumbledore, Lord Voldermort et al., while Jeff plays the “Potter” go-to guy, who dons Harry Potter’s signature black spectacles almost all throughout the presentation.

One by one, Jeff summarizes the seven “Potter” books whose main character he believes is utterly bland. Dan prances around the stage as Jeff’s comedy sidekick, who can hardly wait for the books’ finale and the duo’s improvised Quidditch game, complete with neon ring-shaped goals on both sides of the auditorium, a beach ball that is tossed around, and a human-sized golden snitch, which prompts enthusiastic audience engagement.

Little Shubert Theatre main lobby; photo credit: Rolando Gatilao
“You’ve got so much happening in book four: the Quidditch World Cup; a tournament where you have to do a scene under water, and a scene in a huge maze; and a fight with a dragon; among others. How in a parody do we condense all these? We spent a whole bunch on the dragon as you saw tonight, and that’s how we did it. That's tough,” says Dan.

What was originally conceived as a five-minute sketch comedy show meant to entertain Potterheads waiting in line for the release of the sixth book, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” (Jeff’s least favorite book in the series; Dan feels the exact opposite) at a London bookshop in 2005, has been expanded into a full-length theatrical production that toured the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and now breaking box office records in the United States, which even runs three performances on Saturdays at 2, 5, and 8 p.m., and extends until Sunday, September 2.

Good news is that theatergoers in the Philippines can also join the “Potted Potter” frenzy next month for a limited time. Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, Potted Productions, and Concertus Manila bring “Potted Potter” to Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City from Tuesday, August 28 to Sunday, September 2, for 10 performances only, featuring British actors Gary Trainor and Jesse Briton, playing the roles of Jeff and Dan, respectively.

“Gary [who’s Irish like Jeff] and Jesse are better than Jeff,” Dan roars with laughter.

young fan Julianna Oppenheimer; photo credit: Rolando Gatilao
On a serious note, Dan admits, “We had to audition. We really searched hard to get a cast who can do this, which is the strangest thing in the world if you ever audition for someone to play yourself. You have to sit in a room to see people who are pretending to be you for a day; so it’s like having an out-of-body experience all day. But we’ve found two great British soap comedy actors; we’ve been working with them before we came out here. They’re coming in with a new lease on life for the show.”

“We were meant to be in New York two months earlier than we were. But everything was put back; so we were double booked [both productions in New York and Manila are closing on the same day]. Instead of cancelling the Manila tour, which we really wanted to do, we decided to recast it,” Jeff explains.

Although both Dan and Jeff have been raring to go to the Philippines, the former is a lot more anxious than the latter.

Dan shares animatedly: I went to the Philippines with my family when I was young. And there are two things I vividly remember about the Philippines: one of them was when we were jumping off a rock into the sea (hot springs in Coron, Palawan), and the water was burning hot, which burned my chest. For the rest of the time, I had to be in t-shirt because I was bright red; the other one was when we were eating at a food market, and my mom had to pull me away because I was fascinated by the chickens that were there. There was this woman who would put out a live chicken and wring its neck, and give you the chicken. I just stood there, transfixed. I said to myself, “This is amazing.” I wanted a live chicken. And my mom said, “You can’t have a live chicken!"

Jeff is shocked; he laughs hard.

“We’re hoping to fly out to watch “Potted Potter” with the new cast in Manila,” Jeff interjects. “Some British jokes, come over here, work, some don't; some American jokes that go out to Britain work, and some don't. It’d be interesting to know how things would play out in the Philippines."

"Potted Potter" Pop Quiz blackboard at the theater lobby; photo credit:
Rolando Gatilao
Dan points out that "being a parody, we have to comment on what’s trending, on what’s happening, like we say 'Twilight' at the moment, which is terrible. I hate 'Twilight.' Things have been changing though. Seven years ago, those 'Twilight' references weren’t around yet. We were mentioning Justin Bieber just last year because we would get a great reaction, for instance. Now you mention his name, people boo. We had to take his name out. As things trend, we move along with them."

"In the world of 'Harry Potter,' when 'Pottermore' came out, we put that in the show. When 'Harry Potter World' opened in the UK, we put something about that in the show as well. Both didn’t get that much reaction. I think not everyone outside the world of 'Harry Potter' knows about them," Jeff adds. "If there’s laughter, it’s working on one level. And on another level, if the people who love the subject you’re talking about are enjoying it – they’re laughing – then you have a parody."

For Pottedheads and “Potted Potter’s” more than 14,000 Facebook fans in the Philippines, Dan and Jeff have a special message for you:

“Keep living the ‘Potter’ dream. Wear your robes, and keep that wizardly magic alive,” says Dan.

“And to anyone who would like to send me some mangoes, the best mangoes I ever had were from the Philippines,” he adds.

“Oh, and don’t let the muggles get you down!” Jeff wraps up.

“Potted Potter” is directed by Richard Hurst, featuring set design by Simon Scullion, lighting design by Tim Mascall, music by Phil Innes, and associate direction by Hanna Berrigan.

For tickets to “Potted Potter” in Manila, visit TicketWorld's Facebook Fan Page at, call hotline (632) 891-9999, or visit website

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Domingo, Atadero to Star in THE WOMAN IN BLACK, 8/31

Reb Atadero, Jeremy Domingo; photo credit: Dulaang Kalay
by Oliver Oliveros,

Manila, Philippines, July 21, 2012 – Jeremy Domingo, 2011 BroadwayWorld Philippines Awards’ Best Featured Actor in a Play, and Reb Atadero (“Bare,” “Rizal X”), will star in Dulaang Kalay’s one-night-only production of Stephen Mallatratt’s psychological period thriller, “The Woman in Black” (based on the novel of the same name by Susan Hill), at Teatrino, Promenade, Greenhills on Friday, August 31. 

William Elvin Manzano will direct the two-man play, which recounts young lawyer Arthur Kipps’ ghostly experiences in the Eel Marsh House of recluse Alice Drablow years ago. Kipps hires an actor/director to help him tell his paranormal stories in front of his family and friends in a desperate bid to exorcise the ghosts from the past.

Dulaang Kalay’s creative team will consist of Janine Santos (original music), Meliton Roxas (lighting design), Alden Acosta (sound design), Nina Bedruz (technical direction), and Nissi Gatan (set design).

“The Woman In Black,” the second longest-running straight play in London’s West End, opened at Fortune Theatre in 1989. 

For tickets and more information, call Gabe Ongkiko at (63)905-4283371 or visit

Photo Flash: POTTED POTTER's Dan and Jeff Pose for BroadwayWorld Philippines

"Potted Potter" creators Jefferson Turner and Daniel Clarkson; photo by
Rolando Gatilao
by Oliver Oliveros,

Daniel “Dan” Clarkson and Jefferson “Jeff” Turner, creators and stars of smash parody “Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience,” recently sat down for an exclusive interview with BroadwayWorld Philippines, where they talked about the impending premiere of “Potted Potter” in Manila, which is set Tuesday, August 28, and will run until Sunday, September 2 at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza in Makati City.

“Potted Potter” condenses all seven “Harry Potter” books in 70 minutes. And the parody authors have a special message for “Harry Potter” fans in the Philippines:

“Keep living the ‘Potter’ dream. Wear your robes, and keep that wizardly magic alive,” said Dan.

“And to anyone who would like to send me some mangoes, the best mangoes I ever had were from the Philippines,” he added.

“Oh, don’t let the muggles get you down!” said Jeff.

Up Next: More of Dan and Jeff on BroadwayWorld Philippines!

For tickets to "Potted Potter" in Manila, call TicketWorld at (632) 891-9999 or visit

Monday, July 16, 2012

Photo Coverage: JOE, An Original Filipino Rock Musical, Opens

Philippine Stagers Foundation presents JOE: The Filipino Rock'sical.
Photo by Dale Bacar
by Oliver Oliveros,

Manila, Philippines, July 16, 2012 – 2011 (BWW) Philippines Awards’ runaway winner, the Philippine Stagers Foundation (“Cory ng EDSA”), opened its newest theatrical offering, “Joe: The Filipino Rock’sical,” an original Filipino rock musical that deconstructs the ideologies of the Philippines’ national hero, Jose Rizal, last weekend at St. Cecilia’s Auditorium, St. Scholastica’s College.

BWW photographer Dale Bacar shares his photos taken during the show’s opening. See his photos below!

“Joe: The Filipino Rock’sical,” is written and directed by Atty. Vince Tañada, featuring music by Pipo Cifra and choreography by John San Antonio.

The musical stars Patrick Libao, Atty. Vince Tañada, Monique Azerreda, Kevin Posadas, Jordan Ladra, Cindy Liper, Kierwin Larena, Adelle Ibarrientos-Lim, Chris Lim, Chin Ortega, JM Encinas, Cherry Anne Bagtas, and Gabby Bautista.

“Joe: The Filipino Rock’sical” continues its run at St. Scholastica’s College on Saturday, July 21 at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., and 2 p.m.; and on Sunday, July 2 at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., and 2 p.m.

In addition, performances at Tanghalang Pasigueno are set on Sunday, July 29 at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., and 2 p.m.

For more information, visit

For more photos, click HERE.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Filipino American Symphony Orchestra Plays Bach and Rock, 7/28

The Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO); photo by FASO
by Oliver Oliveros,

Los Angeles, July 15, 2012 – The Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO), the first Filipino-organized orchestra outside the Philippines, which is based in California, presents “FASO is Bach to Rock!,” an eclectic concert featuring classical masterpieces by Johann Sebastian Bach; pop-rock anthems such as Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Led Zepellin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” arranged by Filipino composer Louie Ramos; popular disco songs; and Original Pilipino Music (OPM) on Saturday, July 28 at Ford Theatres (2580 Cahuenga Boulevard, East Hollywood).

Robert A. Shroder is principal conductor; OPM icon Joey Albert, and legendary jazz vocalist Mon David are guest singers, together with Mirielle Enriquez, Immaculate Heart of Mary Children’s Choir, and FASO’s Youth String Ensemble, showcasing the musical talent of youngsters, ages eight to 14.

“Bach to rock is a very interesting combination of repertoire because the Baroque era [1600-1750 C.E.], the era of Bach, is when improvisation started – even before the birth of jazz and rock. So it’s really a good combination to mix both genres together,” said Shroder in a press statement. “This is [also] very exciting for FASO; it’s the orchestra’s first time doing this mixture of genres in a major concert.”

“FASO is Bach to Rock!” is part of the 21st annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC), the largest celebration of Filipino arts and culture, which presents more than 1,000 artists and cultural ambassadors from all over the United States from September 8 to 9 at Point Fermin Park in San Pedro, California.

For tickets to FASO’s concert, visit General admission: $30-40. VIP package: $100, which includes premium seating and pre-show reception. Students and children tickets: $20. Group discounts are also available.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Photo Flash: First Look at Lea Salonga in GOD OF CARNAGE in Manila

Art Acuna, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Lea Salonga, and Adrian Pang
in Atlantis Productions and Singapore Repertory Theatre's staging of
Yasmina Reza's "God of Carnage"; photo by Jaime Unson
by BWW News Desk,

Manila, Philippines, July 13, 2012 -- It’s a gargantuan war among Lea Salonga (Veronica), Adrian Pang (Michael), Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo (Anette), and Art Acuña (Alan) as they bring to life Tony Award-winning playwright Yasmina Reza’s brutally honest characters in her play “God of Carnage,” which opens in Manila tonight, and runs until Sunday, July 22 at Carlos. P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza in Makati City.

Directed by Bobby Garcia, and produced by Atlantis Productions and Singapore Repertory Theatre, “God of Carnage,” whose original text was in French, is a 90-minute debacle of two couples who meet and discuss about their kids' recent playground squabble.

Atlantis Productions’ photographer Jaime Unson shares his production photos.

For tickets to “God of Carnage,” call Atlantis Productions at (632) 892-7078 or TicketWorld at (632) 891-9999, or visit

Shows on Saturday, July 14 at 8 p.m. and Friday, July 20 at 8 p.m. are sold out.

“God of Carnage” also travels to Singapore in November. Tickets are available at

For more photos, click HERE.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

GOD OF CARNAGE, Starring Lea Salonga, Holds First and Only Preview, 7/12

Lea Salonga and Adrian Pang; photo by
Atlantis Productions
by Oliver Oliveros,

Manila, Philippines, July 12, 2012 – Imported Broadway shows do not enjoy the luxury of having long previews with test audiences. The Asian touring production of Yasmina Reza’s 2009 Tony Award-winning play, “God of Carnage,” a case in point, starring Tony winner Lea Salonga, which premieres in Manila this weekend, and tours Singapore in November, is no exception.

Atlantis Productions and Singapore Repertory Theatre open the doors of the Carlos P. Romulo Theater at RCBC Plaza in Makati City to “God of Carnage’s” first and only set of preview audiences tonight, July 12 (July 11 in the United States). The play, which also stars Singaporean actor Adrian Pang, Philippine theater’s favorite leading lady Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, and multi-award winning theater, television, and film actor Art Acuña, officially opens in Manila on Friday, July 13, and runs until Sunday, July 22.

In Salonga’s weekly newspaper column, titled “Backstory,” in the Philippine Daily Inquirer today, she has shared her enthusiasm over her impending return to doing straight plays after her first starring role in a non-musical production via David Auburn’s “Proof,” which premiered in Manila 11 years ago, also produced by Altantis Productions.

“Tonight will be the only preview we’ll have, our first crack at performing this piece in front of an audience. Until tonight, we’ve rehearsed the show in front of the production staff and a handful of colleagues whose feedback has been nothing short of invaluable.

But still, wonderful though it has been hearing them react and respond, it’s not a full audience. None of us four in the cast (Menchu, Adrian, and Art) has any idea how a line reading will go in front of 450 or so people.

Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and Arthur Acuna;
photo by Atlantis Productions
We don’t know when to hold for a laugh if one comes, or for how long. This is one element that will, with every performance, change the way we do whatever it is that we’ll be doing onstage. In every show, there will be an element of the unknown,” Salonga wrote.

She added, “We know that script backwards and forwards … we’ve run through the whole play at least 10 times, its internal rhythms and tempos changing with each go (Bobby Garcia, our director, called one of the runs 'Kafkaesque,' coinciding with a particularly dark and dreary afternoon).

We’ve figured out just about everything, individually or collectively. We’ve discussed, argued, tried things, thrown things out, laughed, cried, given dirty looks and uttered dirtier words. But, until tonight, only with one another. Now, it’s time to get the crowd in and see what happens.

Yup, my seatbelt is securely fastened. We’re ready. Let the war games really begin.”

Read Salonga’s column HERE.

Directed by Garcia, featuring set design by Lawyn Cruz and lighting design by James Tan, “’God of Carnage’ is a comedy of manners, without the manners: the play begins as two middle-income couples (Salonga and Pang, Yulo and Acuña) meet to amicably resolve a playground squabble between their kids. Lines are drawn, allegiances are made and broken, and the evening quickly turns into a laugh-out-loud train wreck – served up with clafouti, espresso, and a bottle of rum,” so says the production notes.

For tickets to "God of Carnage," call Atlantis Productions at (632) 892-7078. The show on Saturday, July 14 at 8 p.m. is sold out.

Immediately after the Manila leg of “God of Carnage,” Salonga will fly to San Diego, California to begin rehearsals for the Broadway-bound musical “Allegiance,” which also stars George Takei (“Star Trek,” “Celebrity Apprentice”) and Telly Leung (“Godspell,” “Rent”). “Allegiance,” which tackles about Japanese-American internment during World War II, plays at Old Globe Theatre in San Diego from Friday, September 7 to Sunday, October 21.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

FORBIDDEN BROADWAY Returns for a Two-Day Run, 8/24-25

by Oliver Oliveros,

Manila, Philippines, July 10, 2012 – Upstart Productions (“Defending the Caveman,” "Breakups and Breakdowns”) brings back Off-Broadway smash “Forbidden Broadway” (Greatest Hits), a musical revue that parodies old and new Broadway musicals at Carlos P. Romulo Theater, RCBC Plaza, Senator Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City on Friday, August 24 and Saturday, August 25.

“Forbidden Broadway” is a four-person show with two male actors (Lorenz Martinez, OJ Mariano) and two female actors (Caisa Borromeo, Liesl Batucan) playing multiple characters. Besides its musical numbers from popular Broadway shows, the intimate revue, which was conceived, written, and directed by Gerard Alessandrini, has also been endearingly mocking famous theater personalities since its 1982 debut at Palsson's Supper Club in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Alessandrini has recently announced that a new edition of “Forbidden Broadway” is set to premiere in New York City this fall and winter season.

In Manila, Joel Trinidad (“Crush Hour,” “Breakups and Breakdowns”) and Cathy Azanza-Dy (“Love, Loss and What I Wore”) direct Martinez, Mariano, Borromeo, and Batucan, plus a set of surprise celebrity guests. Amusing parodies of “Chicago,” “Annie,” “Into the Woods,” “West Side Story,” “Wicked,” Les Miserables,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Mamma Mia,” “Rent,” “Spamalot,” “Cats,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Hairspray,” and “A Chorus Line,” are featured in the show.

For tickets and more information, call Upstart Productions at (63)917-5285678 or email or Tickets are also available through Ticketworld at (632) 891-9999 or

Monday, July 02, 2012

Photo Flash: Josh Young Exits JCS with "Judas" Pooch

Tony nominee Josh Young and Keppy pose for
Photo by Oliver Oliveros
by Oliver Oliveros,

Tony nominee Josh Young (Judas Iscariot), who brought the closing audience of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (JCS) to its feet, seconds after his strong 11 o’clock number, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” yesterday afternoon at Neil Simon Theatre, signed everyone’s playbill at the stage door, and showed off to the crowd his pooch, Keppy, who was wearing a replica of Young's character’s royal blue sequined top, designed by Paul Tazewell (“In the Heights,” “The Color Purple”) for the show. was there, and took a photo of Young and Keppy.

Following the critically-acclaimed runs at Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada, La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, and Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway, JCS, starring Paul Nolan (Jesus), Chilina Kennedy (Mary Magdelene), and Young (Judas), took its final bow on Sunday, July 1. Directed by Des McAnuff (“Jersey Boys,” “The Who’s Tommy"), the Broadway presentation, which garnered Tony nominations for Young (Best Featured Actor in a Musical) and for the entire production (Best Revival of a Musical), played 116 regular performances, and 24 preview performances.

Young also recently sang at the one-night-only, all-star concert adaptation of the Broadway musical “Baby” held at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. His latest album, “Still Dreaming in Paradise,” which includes “Heaven on Their Minds” from JCS, has been re-released. To purchase the CD, visit

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stephanie Reese is Back for a Concert, 7/13

Stephanie Reese is back in Manila for a concert.
by Oliver Oliveros,

Manila, Philippines, June 26, 2012 – Filipino-American performing artist Stephanie Reese wears many hats: for the theater enthusiast, she is Esmeralda in the world premiere production of Disney’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame” or the “German” Kim in the German production of “Miss Saigon;” for the concertgoer, she is the “Standing Ovation Queen,” who never fails to bring her audiences to their feet, and who once shared the stage with Grammy winners Patti LaBelle and Natalie Cole; and for the social worker – for nonprofit organizations such as Gawad Kalinga, Make A Wish Foundation, or World Vision – she is a young lady who has a compassionate heart for children who are in dire need of help.

Stephanie is all that and more! She writes her own one-woman shows; she also composed songs on her previous solo studio albums, “Stephanie Reese at Her Best” and “This is My Life.” And for a bit of theater trivia, she was a childhood friend of Tony nominee Chad Kimball, who originated the role of DJ Huey Calhoun in the Tony Award-winning musical “Memphis.” Both grew up in Seattle, and have remained good friends until today.

Even though Chad is not among Stephanie’s guest performers in her upcoming concert, dubbed “A Little Big Bang!” at Music Museum (July 13) – her second solo concert in Manila – she is still in good company with her newfound friends in local showbusiness: among them are world singing champion
Jed Madela, who is one of her special guests, alongside the Madrigal Singers, Luke Mijares, and pianist John Florencio; stage director Raymond Lauchengco, another multi-talented artist who dabbles in photography, recording, and directing concerts and special events, who is her concert director; and renowned musician Mel Villena, who is her musical director for the show.

Stephanie’s new concert, whose proceeds will go to World Vision, “promises an evening of big band standards, soulful ballads, Broadway showtunes, and contemporary pop tunes with a twist,” Stephanie said. “I think people can expect a large variety of music, which is sort of what I’m known for, and a night that is nostalgic, entertaining, and exciting.”

Raymond first met Stephanie at a corporate event six months ago. The diminutive diva’s (she is five foot one) vast vocal range, and her ability to effortlessly cross over into different musical styles have left a marked impression on the director. 
Raymond shared, “When she approached me to direct her concert, I said yes immediately. We came up with the concept, and together with our producer, Teresa Kong of Artefice Events, and musical director, Mel Villena, we threshed it out in terms of the choice of songs and the flow of the program. Stephanie’s multi-faceted: she’s a singer, an actress, a writer, a composer, a philanthropist…from that alone you can tell she isn’t content with being just one thing.

He added, “So when we were discussing the concept, I wanted her to more or less stick to one genre, but I realized it just wasn’t who she was. She’s just so versatile and she switches from one genre to another so effortlessly and elegantly; we had to figure out a way for her to do that in a cohesive manner. I also love that she’s so confident in her artistry that she respects the artistic input of others without compromising her own.”

For tickets to Stephanie’s concert, call TicketWorld at (632) 891-9999 or visit Ticket Prices: P 1000, 1800, 2100.

Friday, June 22, 2012

First Look at Ayesa, Morales, Volante et al. in ROCK OF AGES Manila

Filipino-Australian actor MiG Ayesa stars as
Stacee Jaxx in Atlantis Productions' "Rock of
Ages." Photo by Jaime Unson
by Oliver Oliveros,

Broadway actor MiG Ayesa (Stace Jaxx) and recording artists Vina Morales (Sherrie) and Nyoy Volante (Drew) are hyped up for their second week of performances in Atlantis Productions’ (“In The Heights,” Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”) Asian premiere of Chris D’ Arienzo’s smash Broadway musical “Rock of Ages,” playing to sold-out audiences at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City until Sunday, July 8.

Directed by Chari Arespacochaga (Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” “Spring Awakening"), “Rock of Ages,” which inspired the film adaptation of the same name, starring Tom Cruise (Stacee Jaxx) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (the Mayor’s Wife), currently playing across the United States and the Philippines, follows the love story between Sherrie, a small town girl from Oklahoma who is trying her luck in Hollywood, and Drew, a waiter-turned-singer at the infamous nightclub, Bourbon Room, on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Both are starstrucked by the mere presence of Stacee Jaxx, a rock ‘n’ roll demigod.

Its ‘80s jukebox hits-laden score, which includes "We Built This City, "More Than Words/Heaven/To Be with You (medley),” "Waiting for a Girl Like You," "I Want to Know What Love Is,” "Cum On Feel the Noize,” "The Final Countdown,” "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," “Can't Fight This Feelin’,” "Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” "Oh Sherrie,” and "Don't Stop Believin',” never fails to make every ‘80s baby in the audience stomp his feet, and bob his head during the performance.

Jett Pangan (Lonny), Aiza Seguerra (Regina), Jinky Llamanzares (Justice Charlier), Jamie Wilson (Dennis Dupree), Calvin Millado (Hertz Klinemann), Bibo Reyes (Franz Klinemann), Apple Chiu, Japs Treopaldo, Mikkie Bradshaw, Berl William Angeles, and Altaire Alonso complete the cast.

For more photos, click HERE.