Thursday, May 31, 2012

De Tagle, Go, Cayabyab et al. to Join Philippine Independence Day Parade on Madison Ave., 6/3

Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Rachelle Ann Go, Ryan
Cayabyab, and Broadway Barkada
by Oliver Oliveros,

New York, May 31, 2012 -- Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, 2012 Awards’ Best Featured Actress In A Musical nominee; Rachelle Ann Go, a concert and recording artist who recently made her professional theater debut, playing Ariel, in the Southeast Asian premiere of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid;” Ryan Cayabyab, the composer of original Filipino musicals “Katy!,” “Larawan,” and “Magnificat,” among others; and Broadway Barkada, a group of New York-based Filipino actors, singers, and dancers that have been performing in various Broadway and Off-Broadway productions are all set to join the Philippine Independence Day Council’s (PIDCI) 114th Philippine Independence Parade and cultural festival on Sunday, June 3, 11:45 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., along Madison Avenue (from 38th Street down to 23rd Street).

PIDCI is the umbrella organization of Filipino-American business, nonprofit, and religious groups, among others that is primarily dedicated to promoting Filipino cultural heritage and traditions through the annual Philippine Independence Day festivities in New York City, which are usually a week earlier than the local celebrations in the Philippines.

Originally spearheaded by PIDCI’s former chairperson Nilda G. Jaynal in 1991, PIDCI's member organizations come together once a year to organize the parade (touted as the biggest Filipino community-organized event in the East Coast – last year’s turnout was estimated at 100,000), cultural show, and street fair.

Besides de Tagle, Go, Cayabyab, and Broadway Barkada, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisa Jr., GMA Philippine television network’s Dingdong Dantes and Aljur Abrenica, the Ryan Cayabyab Singers (RCS), and dance troupe Mga Anak Ni Inang Daigdig (Children of Mother Earth) are also expected to grace the occasion this weekend.

Frances Rivera, WPIX morning news anchor, and Air Tabigue, a stand-up comedian, will emcee the parade; Liz Casasola, a Broadway Barkada performer, and Jared Philips, a Kundirana alumnus, will host the cultural festival.

Complete Activity Schedule:

>Flag Ceremony and Independence Day Mass, 8:30 a.m., Philippine Center, 556 Fifth Avenue (between 45th and 46th Streets)
>Parade Opening Ceremonies, 11:45 a.m., Madison Avenue and 38th Street
>Independence Day Parade, 12 p.m., Madison Avenue (from 38th Street heading south)
>Street Fair, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Madison Avenue (26th Street down to 24th Street)
>Cultural Festival On The Open Stage, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Madison Avenue (North of 23rd Street)

For more information about the parade and cultural festival activities, contact Chairman Raul Estrellado (201) 421-6187, Co-Chair Ner Martinez (347) 837-5883 or Co-Chair Vivian Velasco (917) 623-3827.

Friday, May 25, 2012

JCS Broadway: This One's Got Swag, And Three Filipinos In It

"Jesus Christ Superstar" on Broadway; photo by Joan Marcus
by Oliver Oliveros,

My first dose of musical theater was through my uncle’s old screechy phonograph recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s hippie, loud, angst-laden rock musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” (JCS). The classic stage hit, which was originally a concept album before evolving into a full-blown Broadway musical that follows the passion and death of Jesus Christ as seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot (much the same as Martin Scorsese’s highly controversial film “The Last Temptation of Christ”), had completed its three-year run on Broadway (1971-1973), and its first commercial movie release (1973) by the time I got to experience JCS’s electrifying, personally-impactful songs in the ‘80s though. So when the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Toronto, Canada announced late last year that its critically-acclaimed, deemed revolutionary production of JCS, directed by Tony winner Des McAnuff, was coming to Broadway, I was delighted to hear the news; and more so when I learned that three Filipino-Canadian musical theater artists – brothers Julius and Jason Sermonia, and Laurin Padolina – are part of the show.

“99 percent of the Broadway cast performed in McAnuff’s production in Canada,” said the older Sermonia, Julius, who plays the role of Jesus’ disciple Peter whenever the original Peter, Mike Nadajewski, fills in the shoes of the flamboyant King Herod at some of the performances.

“And yes, I’m proud to be a Filipino,” Julius told me the first time I met him.

Brothers Julius and Jason Sermonia; photo by
Linda Lenzi
Julius, who is also a singer, a dancer, and the fight captain in this JCS remake, and also’s Gypsy for the Month of April, is not a greenhorn on the Great White Way; his Broadway debut was in another Webber musical, “Cats,” playing the white-faced, feline magician Mr. Mistoffelees, in 1999. Besides his Broadway credits, his professional theater experience is brimming with U.S. national tours (“Cats,” “Contact”), regional theater productions (“JCS,” “Miss Saigon"), and Stratford Shakespeare Festival productions (“Evita,” “West Side Story"), among others.

Julius’ brother, Jason, who is engaged to Canadian actress Melanie Mcinenly, plays the role of Jesus’ disciple John in the Tony-nominated revival production of JCS. His other theater credits include “Camelot” (his first stint at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival), Disney’s “The Lion King” in Las Vegas, “Dirty Dancing,” “We Will Rock You,” Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” “The King & I,” and “West Side Story,” among others. He was also cast as one of the dancers in Rob Marshall’s Academy Award-winning film adaptation of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s Broadway musical “Chicago,” released in 2002.

Laurin Padolina, whose roots were in Quezon province in the Philippines, was born and raised in Vancouver, plays Rachel in JCS, her Broadway debut. She is a professional dancer and a choreographer who had worked with the choreographers for Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, among others.

Laurin Padolina
These three strong dancers – capable actors as well – together with Tony nominee Josh Young (Judas), Paul Nolan (Jesus), Chilina Kennedy (Mary Magdalene), Lee Siegel (Simon Zealotes) et al., have been strutting their stuff eight performances a week since McAnuff’s reimagined production of one of Webber and Rice’s earlier ground-breaking rock musicals opened at Neil Simon Theatre three months ago (another seminal work from Webber and Rice, “Evita,” which charts the rise and fall of the former first lady of Argentina Eva Peron, starring Argentinian actress Elena Roger and Latin superstar Ricky Martin, is playing at Marquis Theatre, a few blocks away from JCS’s theater).

JCS’s brand marketers have been positioning the show as revolutionary, which I beg to differ: Similar to Stephen Schwartz and John Michael Tebelak’s “Godspell,” JCS’ core creative concept, hippie lyrics were indeed subversive at the time the stage adaptation premiered in the early ‘70s; the JCS presentation I saw on Wednesday barely rewrote any of Rice’s original lyrics to make it sound even more provocative.

Curtain call; photo by Oliver Oliveros
McAnuff’s staging is yes, glitzy and partly up-to-date; for instance, the stage is adorned with Robert Brill’s metallic two-tiered set, platforms, staircases, ladders, and catwalks, and multi LED screens whose running display of readings from the Bible during Act Two’s finale is nothing less than brilliant; and a bass-singing Caiaphas (Marcus Nance) and his minions wear leather trench coats, and Roman soldiers don contemporary military uniforms – think of stormtroopers.

Evidently, McAnuff drops the heavily bohemian attributes of the original Broadway production and its film counterpart, and replaces these pretty tired decades-old elements with an urban swag, exuberant party vibe, which, for me – apart from the Filipinos in the cast and Young's breathtaking performance as Judas – makes this incarnation of the sung-through, landmark rock musical one of the must-sees this Tony Award season.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s production of JCS continues to play at the Nederlanders’ Neil Simon Theatre on 52nd Street. For tickets, visit www.superstaronbroadway.

Monday, May 21, 2012

STINKYKIDS, The Musical Plays Last Weekend at Theatre 80, 5/26

A.J. Patton, Lora Nicolas, Ryan Mikita, Laura Weiner, Bryce Payne, and Madison
Turner engage in a photo op with young theatergoers. Photo by Vital Theatre Company
by Oliver Oliveros,

New York, May 21, 2012 – 2nd Annual Off-Broadway Alliance Awards’ Best Family Show nominee “StinkyKids, The Musical,” featuring book and lyrics by Sammy Buck, music by Daniel S. Acquisto, based on the children’s books with the same title by Britt Menzies, and direction by Tim Drucker, will play its last extended performance at Theatre 80 Saint Marks Place in the East Village on Saturday, May 26, at 1 p.m.

“Endearing, funny, and entertaining to both the kids and the parents in the audience,” was how our very own Erin Leigh Peck of Jr. described the family oriented-musical, which premiered at Vital Theatre Company’s McGinn Cazale Theatre in March.

“StinkyKids, The Musical” tells the story of a mischievous young girl Britt who asks her parents (never seen on stage) to bring her friends Max, Hannah, Jen, Johnny, and Billy to the grand opening of the newest, hottest kiddie attraction in town, the MegaJumper 3000. But when Britt gets a massive wad of gum stuck in her long hair, she had no choice but to rely on her playmates to help her get out of the sticky situation before her parents find out, and cancel the trip to the amusement park.

For its final performance on Saturday, Kari Grunberg, replaces the show’s original Britt, Laura Weiner

New York-based actors A.J. Patton (Johnny), Madison Turner (Jen), Ryan Mikita (Max), Bryce Payne (Billy), and Filipino-American actress Lora Nicolas (Hannah) complete the cast.

To purchase tickets, starting at $29.50, visit

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Caisa Borromeo, Lorenz Martinez, OJ Mariano,
and Liesl Batucan star in the Philippine premiere of
the smash Off-Broadway parody "Forbidden
Broadway." Photo by Jory Rivera
by Oliver Oliveros,

Co-written by Jude Cartalaba

Manila, Philippines, May 17, 2012 – Theater actor, writer, and director Gerard Alessandrini’s brainchild, the 30-year-old Off-Broadway hit parody series “Forbidden Broadway,” finally premiered at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza in Makati City last weekend. Joel Trinidad, Upstart Productions’ president and the show’s director, had picked “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits,” which has two volumes to date, and features some of the more popular spoofs of Broadway musicals and theater legends culled from more than a dozen “Forbidden Broadway” editions.

Versatile thespians Liesl Batucan (“Next Fall,” “Seussical”), Caisa Borromeo (“Little Women,” “Footloose”), OJ Mariano (“Rent,” “Sweet Charity”), and Lorenz Martinez (“Spelling Bee,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”) top-bill “Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits." During the press preview last Thursday night, there was never a dull moment, even though there were some musical theater references not too familiar with young theatergoers, i.e. Mandy Patinkin’s over-the-top tenor, or Ethel Merman’s quavering vibrato.

Nevertheless, Batucan delighted the crowd as she poked fun at a grown-up orphan Annie from “Annie;” Broadway’s favorite leading lady Carol Channing, whose most popular stage role was that of matchmaker Dolly Levi in “Hello Dolly!;” and American actress and singer Liza Minnelli, whose claim to international fame was her role as Sally Bowles in the ‘70s film adaptation of the Broadway musical “Cabaret.”

Mariano was very effective playing Cameron Mackintosh who explained why the theater producer’s shows, such as “Les Miserables,” “Cats,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” and “Miss Saigon,” among others, were big hits.

Borromeo stole the show when she parodized Broadway diva Idina Menzel’s Tony Award-winning portrayal of the notorious Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, in “Wicked.”

Martinez, donning black tights, was outright hilarious in his spoof of “Cats.”

On Thursday’s preview, Trinidad’s father, Noel Trinidad, was featured performer, who sung a takeoff of “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables.” (Jett Pangan of “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Rock of Ages” did the same number on last Friday’s opening night.) Lea Salonga, Aiza Seguerra, Nyoy Volante, Iya Villania, Nikki Valdez, Markki Stroem, and Gabe Mercado are expected to guest star as well.

“Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits” features Martin Esteva’s lighting design, Lawyn Cruz’s production design, Onyl Torres’ musical direction, and Dingdong Fiel's piano accompaniment. The show runs until Sunday, May 27.

For tickets, call Upstart Productions at +639175285678 or email or Tickets are also available through Ticketworld at (632) 8919999 or log on to

For more photos, click HERE.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Photo Coverage: Anna Maria Perez de Tagle and Friends' Cruise Concert

Nick Blaemire, Eric Michael Krop, Corbin Bleu, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Sam Milby
George Salazar, and Wallace Smith; photo by Oliver Oliveros
by Oliver Oliveros, 

New York, May 13, 2012 – Hollywood-turned-Broadway actress Anna Maria Perez de Tagle’s “Godspell” co-stars, showbiz friends, and fans turned out in full force at her recent benefit concert held on board the Hornblower Hybrid, which – aside from the audience enjoying De Tagle and her buddies’ wide repertoire – treated the crowd to breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. was there, and took event photos.

Halfway through the concert, which, in most of the musical numbers, had made use of a live band accompaniment led by the show’s musical director, Sonny Paladino of Disney’s “High School Musical” and Broadway’s “Billy Elliot," De Tagle gave a short spiel about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and why she chose the cancer research center as her fundraiser’s sole beneficiary. “I’m doing this show to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Hospital because one of my first cousins, Neil Thomson, is struck down with a rare form of cancer. St. Jude finds cure for children with cancer,” she said. Soon after, she sang a Tagalog love song titled “Ikaw” (You), which she dedicated to Thomson. The 21-year-old petite singer gestured for her cousin to join her on stage, which made her burst into tears toward the tail end of the song – apparently, there was not a dry eye in the audience.

Besides De Tagle’s heart-tugging stage moment with her kin, other highlights of the evening included her duets with Wallace Smith (“The Closer I Get to You”) Nick Blaemire (“No Air”), Eric Michael Krop (“Sun and Moon,” “Last Night of the World”), George Salazar (“I Got You Babe”) – in which Salazar and De Tagle channel ‘60s folk-pop duo Sony and Cher, Sam Milby (“I Need You Now”), Corbin Bleu (“I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”), and interestingly enough, her surprise duet (“When You Look Me In the Eyes”) with Paul Kevin Jonas Sr., De Tagle’s manager and American boy band Jonas Brothers’ father.

In addition, De Tagle dedicated her medley of ballads from mega-musicals “Les Miserables” (“I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own”) and “Miss Saigon” (“I’d Give My Life For You”) to one of her musical influences, Lea Salonga, who was seated among the concertgoers. Group numbers, such as John Kander and Fred Ebb’s “Sara Lee” and Elton John and Kiki Dee’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (the show’s first and last encore), were well applauded.

For more photos, click HERE.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Photo Coverage: De Tagle, Bleu, Salonga et al. Walk the Red Carpet for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital


by Oliver Oliveros,

New York, May 9, 2012 – “Godspell” stars Corbin Bleu, George Salazar, Wallace Smith, Nick Blaemire, and Eric Michael Krop; Tony winner Lea Salonga; and Filipino TV, film actor and recording artist Sam Milby walked the red carpet on Monday night to show support to mutual friend and fellow artist Anna Maria Perez de Tagle in her pursuit to raise additional funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. De Tagle, who had partnered with Hornblower Cruises & Events, Statue Cruises, and Apartment Luxe, held a benefit concert on board the Hornblower Hybrid, which was filled to the rafters with fans, friends, Broadway insiders, and members of the press. was there, and took red carpet photos.

“I’m doing this show to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Hospital because one of my first cousins, Neil Thomson, is struck down with a rare form of cancer. St. Jude finds cure for children with cancer,” said De Tagle.

Bleu, who has been a long-time supporter of St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and friends with De Tagle since they first worked together for Disney’s “Hannah Montana’s” pilot episode in 2006, was all hyped up and excited for an evening of singing, dancing, and performing for a cause with De Tagle and their friends. “We’re putting on a show, and it’s going to be fun. I’m singing ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ by Wham; Anna Maria and I are doing a duet together ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You;’ and I know we’re also doing a group number ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.’ It’s going to be fun. We’re all going to enjoy our time in the ship,” he told

Sonny Paladino (Disney’s “High School Musical,” “Billy Elliot”) was the cruise concert’s musical director. Marisse Panlilio (“Wowowee” - San Diego, “Sendong Relief” USA) was technical director.

For more photos, click HERE.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Domenech and Salonga Sing "A Whole New World" at Tuacahn Ampitheatre

by Oliver Oliveros, 

Utah, May 6, 2012 – Dan Domenech (Rock of Ages, Wonderland) and Tony Award-winning actress and Disney Legend Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables) sang “A Whole New World,” Disney’s Alladin’s theme, at the latter’s live concert recently held at the Tuacahn Ampitheatre, an outdoor performance space nestled in a verdant valley, and surrounded by towering red rock cliffs. Besides Mulan (1998), Salonga also recorded the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in the celluloid version of Aladdin (1992). Coincidentally, Domenech is in town to play the male lead role in Tuacahn Ampitheatre and Center for the Arts’ summer production of Disney’s Alladin, the first regional presentation of the newly revamped and expanded stage adaptation of the animated film.

To be directed by Scott S. Anderson, Tuacahn’s artistic director, Disney’s Aladdin, featuring musical numbers by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice, and book by Chad Beguelin, will also showcase Haley Carlucci as Princess Jasmine, Edward Juvier as the Genie, Michael G. Hawkins as Jafar, Jeff Asch as Iago, Paul Vogt as Babkak, Randy Aaron as Omar, Todd Dubail as Kassim, and Bob Walton as Sultan.

Tuacahn is a non-profit organization that produces top quality, professional entertainment in Southern Utah. It was home to the post-Broadway premieres of two other Disney stage musicals, Tarzan (2010) and The Little Mermaid (2011).

Disney’s Aladdin, staged by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Group and Music Theater International, will run from Monday, June 4 until Friday, August 31. For tickets, visit

For photos, click HERE.