Saturday, March 31, 2012

Photo Exclusive: ROCK OF AGES' Dan Domenech's Farewell Party

(Center) Dan Domenech with Broadway's ROCK OF AGES' cast members Tony LePage
and Katie Webber; photo by Oliver Oliveros
by Oliver Oliveros, BroadwayWorld.com

New York, March 31, 2012 – Rock of Ages (ROA) on Broadway wanted him to stay for another six months. In spite of that, after more than 500 shows, which began in his swing job at ROA’s first national tour two years ago and ended up in his last performance as the musical’s male romantic lead, Drew, on Broadway last Sunday, Dan Domenech has opted for some time off instead. BroadwayWorld.com (BWW) brings you exclusive photos of Domenech’s farewell party, in which ROA cast members, some theater friends, and family members joined the intimate gathering, recently held at Pazza Notte Restaurant & Lounge on Avenue of Americas.

“It feels very surreal, but it’s exciting. Like anything else in life, you’ve got to close doors, and let other doors open. ROA’s going to live on. It’s an amazing musical; and a huge movie is coming out with one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood. I couldn’t have been more proud of the team – the cast and the crew. Justin Sargent is going to come in, and take over Drew. He’s going to be amazing,” Domenech told BWW. “Justin was a vacation swing. So when anyone went on vacation or on sick leave, he would get in because we needed a certain number of people in the cast to cover different roles. He’s been with ROA longer than I have. It’s been a long time coming; no one deserves playing Drew more than he does,” he added.

ROCK OF AGES on Broadway's cast members Tessa Alves, Cody Scott
Lancaster, Tony LePage, and Katie Webber; photo by Oliver Oliveros
A native Long Islander, Domenech started playing full time the role of Drew – originated on Broadway by American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis – when ROA reopened on the Great White Way at the Helen Hayes Theatre in March last year. The Tony-nominated musical borrows classic rock hits from the '80s, and follows the standard romantic plot line of boy (Drew) meets girl (Sherrie). However, the two young lovers are abruptly separated because of their Hollywood dreams.

Domenech has had the opportunity to perform with at least two actresses who played Drew’s love interest, Sherrie: Rebecca Faulkenberry (who is now playing the part of Mary Jane Watson in Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark) and Emily Padgett (Legally Blonde, Grease). “Emily was the first Sherrie that I ever saw. I fell in love with the show. And I remember thinking that someday, I might be able to perform with her. It was really exciting to fulfill a thought in your mind of getting to sing with somebody on stage. All the Sherries that I ever got to sing with have been great – all the main girls, all the understudies, they’re all super talented. The show gives them the opportunity to show what they’re made of,” he said.

So what is coming up next for the good-looking, over six-feet-tall Broadway star?

“I’d sleep!” Domenech breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m going to take some time off. It’s been more than 500 shows between the tour and here. ROA is two and a half hours long. But most of my days have been used to prepare for every night’s performance because I should stay healthy and all. I’ll spend some more time with my friends and family because I haven’t done that a lot this year.”

“By the way, I want to thank ROA fans for all the support. It’s been an amazing year. I’m going to miss the show. I’m not done. I’m home. Broadway is home for me. I’m looking forward to doing more projects, and creating a show of my own,” he said.

For more information about ROA, visit www.rockofagesmusical.com. You may also follow Domenech on Twitter: @dan_domenech.

For more photos, click HERE.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's Official: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA To Premiere in Manila, 8/25-10/14

Broadway's longest-running musical,
"The Phantom of the Opera," premieres in
Manila in August. Poster image c/o
Concertus Manila
by Oliver Oliveros, BroadwayWorld.com

Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, Francis Lumen, Smart, and Citibank Philippines tie up to bring Broadway’s longest-running musical to the Philippines.

Manila, Philippines, March 29, 2012 – It is better late than never for Lunchbox Theatrical Productions (Cats, Mamma Mia!), Francis Lumen, Smart, and Citibank Philippines. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s megamusical The Phantom of the Opera, based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux, gets its Philippine premiere after 24 years since the production opened on Broadway. An international touring production of The Phantom of the Opera, featuring cast members from the United Kingdom, United States of America, Australia, and South Africa, runs at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ main theater from Saturday, August 25 to Sunday, October 14. Tickets go on sale to general public starting Tuesday, May 1. For Infinity (Powered by Smart) subscribers and Citibank cardholders, pre-selling of tickets is from Monday, March 19 to Monday, April 30.

In a press statement, Tim McFarlane, managing director of Webber’s The Really Useful Company Asia Pacific, said, “This touring production of The Phantom of the Opera is as fine as any version in London’s West End or on Broadway. The show has the same superb design, and we’ve invested a great deal to ensure that this presentation is of the highest standards. The Phantom of the Opera has enjoyed huge success throughout the Asia-Pacific region, having experienced sold-out seasons in cities such as Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai, and Seoul. I’m confident that audience in Manila will welcome the production with equal enthusiasm.”

The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a disfigured musical genius’ shadowy existence, and his love for the beautiful, talented ingénue, Christine Daaé. With around 130 cast, crew, and orchestra members, opulent set design, stunning visual effects, and more than 230 costumes by the late Maria Björnson, the production contains some of Webber’s most popular songs, including “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Think of Me,” “All I Ask of You,” and “Music of the Night.”

James Cundall, chief executive of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, who is presenting The Phantom of the Opera in Manila, said, “To bring one of the world’s most popular musicals to such a musically-gifted nation as the Philippines has been a long-term dream. It’s an excellent show, which epitomizes all that’s great about musical theater: unbelievable music, a powerfully moving story, lavish sets and costumes, and most importantly, a superb audience entertainment.”

Francis Lumen, chief executive of presenting partner Hi-Definition Radio Inc., said, "As a promoter for the past 30 years of various major live concerts in the Philippines, being a part of one of the greatest Broadway musicals in the world is a dream come true!”

The Phantom of the Opera has won more than 60 major theater awards, including seven Tony Awards and three Olivier Awards. Worldwide, the musical has grossed over $5.6 billion, and has been seen in 145 cities in 27 countries, and played to more than 130 million people.

For tickets to The Phantom of the Opera, call Ticketworld (632) 891-9999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Photo Flash: GOD OF CARNAGE Poster Featuring Salonga, Yulo Released

"God of Carnage" poster designed by
GA Fallarme.
by Oliver Oliveros, BroadwayWorld.com

Manila, Philippines, March 27, 2012 – Atlantis Productions (In the Heights, Disney’s The Little Mermaid) has just released the teaser poster for its upcoming production of Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winning play God of Carnage, starring Lea Salonga (Les Miserables, Miss Saigon), Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo (Next to Normal, Love, Loss, And What I Wore), Adrian Pang (The Full Monty, They’re Playing Our Song), and Art Acuña (The Romance of Magno Rubio, Kitchen Musical). To be directed by Bobby Garcia (In the Heights, Disney’s The Little Mermaid), God of Carnage will premiere in Manila in July, and in Singapore in November through a partnership with Singapore Repertory Theatre.

God of Carnage, whose original text was in French, is a 90-minute debacle between two couples: Veronica (Salonga), a writer and a wife, and Michael (Pang), a wholesaler, versus Anette (Yulo), a self-proclaimed wealth manager, and Alan (Acuña), a corporate lawyer, who meet and discuss about their kids' unfortunate playground squabble.

Roman Polanski, a film auteur, has recently released his film adaptation of the play, which was retitled Carnage, starring Jodie Foster (Penelope – Veronica in the play), Kate Winslet (Nancy - Anette in the play), Christopher Waltz (Alan), and John C. Reilly (Michael).

God of Carnage is Atlantis Productions’ first straight play offering after four years – the last one was Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters – and the theater company’s only straight play production for its 2012 season, which boasts three big musicals: Rock of Ages, featuring Vina Morales, Nyoy Volante, and MiG Ayesa, who’s reprising his Broadway role as Stacee Jaxx; Nine, featuring Jett Pangan, Cherie Gil, Eula Valdez et al.; and the Philippine premiere of Disney’s Aladdin, which ran in Seattle last year.

For more information, visit www.atlantisproductionsinc.com.

New Voice Company Holds Another V-Day Fundraiser, 3/31

The elderly Filipino women of Lila Filipina
will benefit from V-Day 2012; photo credit:
New Voice Company
by Oliver Oliveros, BroadwayWorld.com

Manila, Philippines, March 27, 2012 – New Voice Company, whose founder, Monique Wilson (My Name Is Rachel Corrie, The Good Body), is one of the most provocative voices in Philippine contemporary theater, brings back The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler’s Obie Award-winning play, and V-Day 2012, a global movement that raises money for community organizations fighting violence against women, at Music Museum, Greenhills Shopping Center on Saturday, March 31 at 8 p.m.

A stellar, diverse cast comprises this latest edition: pop icon Kuh Ledesma; screen legend Boots Anson-Roa; theater stalwarts Joy Virata, Pinky Amador, Tami Monsod, Juno Henares, Sheila Francisco, Roselyn Perez, and Madelaine Nicolas; folk singer, songwriter Cynthia Alexander; political activist Leah Navarro; acoustic singer Aiza Sequerra; screenwriter Bibeth Orteza; broadcast journalist Cez Drilon; newspaper columnist, talk show host Dolly Anne Carvajal; women’s rights activists Anna Leah Sarabia, Edna Aquino, Emmi de Jesus, and Liza Maza; obstetrician gynecologist Dr. Marlyn Ruaro; cultural group Sining Lila; and Wilson herself are expected to perform at the one-night-only benefit for Lila Filipina, a community organization of women repeatedly raped by Japanese soldiers during World War II.

The Vagina Monologues is made up of a growing number of monologues – based on interviews with over 200 women about their memories and experiences of sexuality – that are read by women (in the same fashion as Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore).

“My Vagina Was My Village,” a monologue compiled from various stories of Bosnian women who were herded into rape camps; and “I Was There In The Room,” a monologue in which Ensler talked about the birth of her granddaughter are two of the best moments in the play.

The Vagina Monologues and V-Day 2012 are directed by Wilson and Rito Asilo, New Voice Company’s associate artistic director, with Rossana Abueva as executive producer, Mel Roxas as lighting designer, and Tcel Maramag, Lisa Santos, and Bambi Gamban as stage and production managers.

For tickets, contact New Voice Company at (632) 896-6695 or (632) 899-0630 or email newvoicecompany@gmail.com. Tickets are also available at Ticketworld (632) 891-9999, and at the venue (632) 721-0635. Ticket Prices: P1,200, Orchestra Center (Reserved); P800 Orchestra Side (First Come, First Served); and P600, Balcony (First Come, First Served)

For more information about V-DAY, visit www.newvoicecompany.com.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Photo Flash: JEKYLL AND HYDE Opens in Manila

Kalila Aguilos stars as Lucy Harris in
Repertory Philippines' production of
Frank Wildhorn's "Jekyll and Hyde."
Photo by Jory Rivera
by Oliver Oliveros, BroadwayWorld.com

Co-written by Precious Lee Cundangan 

Manila, Philippines, March 23, 2012 – Repertory Philippines’ current 45th theater season reaches fever pitch with the premiere of composer Frank Wildhorn and book writer and lyricist Leslie Bricusse’s overtly melodramatic, pop rock-laden Broadway musical Jekyll and Hyde. However, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, director for Jekyll and Hyde, along with her team, seems to have been rising above the original Broadway production’s bad reputation since the local production opened last weekend. Whereas American critics find Wildhorn’s body of work as “gallumphing, dunderheaded musicals that make everything by Andrew Lloyd Webber seems like great art,” says Linda Winer of Newsday; Filipino critics find Repertory Philippines’ stripped-down incarnation of Wildhorn’s most popular undertaking as nothing short of a miracle. “By doing away with the stage spectacle [without the high-tech gimmickry that marked its Broadway run], the focus was redirected to the actors – and rightly so,” says Vladimir Bunoan of ABS-CBNNews.com.

Loosely adapted on Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll and Hyde, which will soon return to Broadway, with American Idol’s Constantine Maroulis playing the dual title role, is the classic story about an astute doctor, Dr. Henry Jekyll whose experiments with human personality create a murderous alter ego, Edward Hyde.

“I’ve totally deconstructed the material, and given it a new interpretation. The set itself, designed by New York-based scenographer and graphic designer Joey Gonzalez-Mendoza, revolves around the idea of a Victorian operating theater – an unsterilized amphitheater where medical students and the public could watch surgeons perform delicate operations – and the ensemble functions like a Greek chorus, accompanied by a full orchestra,” says Yulo. “In preparing for the production, I did research and read the novel. I found out that Stevenson was a sickly child, and would watch people from his bedroom window. The characters of Jekyll and Hyde were actually based on a real person – who was a pillar of society and a clergyman, but who was also a late-night gambler,” she adds.

Leading Repertory Philippines’ Jekyll and Hyde cast are Jett Pangan, who shares the dual title role with Michael Williams; Kalila Aguilos as Lucy Harris, the role originally played by Wildhorn’s former wife, Linda Eder, on Broadway; Cris Villonco, who shares the role of Emma Carew with Tricia Jimenez; Junix Inocian as Gabriel John Utterson; Steve Cadd as Sir Danver Carew; Jack Salud as Simon Stride; Reuben Uy as Lord Savage; Red Nuestro as Bishop of Basingstoke; Mayen Bustamante-Cadd as Lady Beaconsfield; Jaime Inocian as Archibald Proops; Oliver Usison as General Lord Glossop; Jamie Wilson as Spider; Naths Everett as Nellie; and James Stacey as Poole.

Baby Barredo (artistic director), Rem Zamora (assistant director), John Batalla (lighting director), Raven Ong (costume designer), Onyl Torres (musical director), Gidget Tolentino (production manager and sound engineer), Denis Lagdameo (technical director), Ayam Barredo (company manager), Perky Parong (stage manager), Pol Roxas (sound technician), Pablito Salvador (lighting technician) and Adul Lasin (set execution and scenic artist) complete this version's creative and production team.

For tickets, inquiries, and other information, call Repertory Philippines: (632) 571-6926 or (632) 571-4941 or email info@repertory.ph. Tickets are also available at Ticketworld: (632) 891-9999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph. Jekyll and Hyde extends its run until Sunday, April 22 at Onstage, 2/F Greenbelt 1, Ayala Center, Makati City.

For more photos, click HERE.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Photo Coverage: GODSPELL Meets Filipino-American Press

"Godspell" stars Uzo Aduba, George Salazar, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Corey Mach,
Hannah Elless, Julia Mattison, and Telly Leung; photo by Oliver Oliveros
by Oliver Oliveros, BroadwayWorld.com 

Anna Maria Perez de Tagle and George Salazar, Filipino actors and singers who are making their Broadway debuts in the current production of Godspell, and the rest of the show’s cast were in full force to welcome the Filipino-American press, and Filipino-American TV and film actor Sam Milby, at a cocktail reception at Bambo 52 sushi bar and lounge in New YorK City, on Thursday, March 15, followed by an evening performance of Godspell at Circle in the Square Theatre, and a post-show talk back with Kababayan LA’s Janelle So.

Anna Maria Perez de Tagle with Sam Milby;
photo by Oliver Oliveros
Theater producer and social media marketer Ken Davenport (Oleanna, Blithe Spirit) presents the 40th anniversary production and the first-ever Broadway revival of the landmark rock musical Godspell, which is based on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, featuring music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin); concept and original direction by John-Michael Tebelak; direction by Daniel Goldstein (God of Carnage, The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown); and choreography by Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific, Sunday in the Park with George).

On Thursday night’s performance, Corey Mach (understudy for Nick Blaemire) and Julia Mattison (understudy for Celisse Henderson) joined Godspell’s original cast members, de Tagle, Salazar, Hunter Parrish (Jesus), Wallace Smith (John/Judas), Uzo Aduba, Morgan James, Telly Leung, and Lindsay Mendez in performing popular musical numbers from the show, such as "Day by Day," "Beautiful City," and "We Beseech Thee," among others. Leung (on the piano), de Tagle, and Salazar even jammed the song "Learn Your Lessons Well" as a prelude to Act Two.

Hunter Parrish; photo by Oliver Oliveros
Goldstein’s daring, inventive staging is the show’s strongest suit. De Tagle, her chest tones deep and rich, and who has lines in Tagalog in Act Two, and Salazar both give thoroughly enjoyable performances. Parrish is a youthful, charming, and decent Christ. However, it is Leung's rendition of “All Good Gifts” that gives the audience the goosebumps. Mattison and especially Mach still need to catch up to their better-performing predecessors, Henderson and Blaemire respectively.

Godspell, whose new book has been regularly updated with bits of popular culture, i.e. Steve Jobs' iPad, Jersey Shore’s Snooki’s pregnancy, and Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum’s presidential bid, among others, also encourages its cast members to contribute their own ideas for the production. “I remember doing the ‘moustache thing’ (de Tagle plays various ensemble female and male roles, including the prodigal son’s father). I play a man, so I might as well use my long, wavy hair as a moustache,” de Tagle told BroadwayWorld.com. “Oh, I also remember creating my Tagalog lines for the show,” she added.

This revival production of Godspell also features scenic design by David Korins (Passing Strange), costume design by Miranda Hoffman (Well), lighting design by David Weiner (The Normal Heart), sound design by Andrew Keister (Company), orchestrations by Michael Holland (Hurricane), and musical direction by Charlie Alterman (Next to Normal).

Godspell’s recent Filipino-American press event was made possible by the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce, headed by its president, Butch Meily, and its director, John Howley, and the Philippine Consulate in New York, led by its consul general, Mario de Leon Jr.

For tickets to Godspell on Broadway, call 212-239-6200 or visit www.godspell.com.

For more photos, click HERE.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Photo Flash: Lin-Manuel Miranda Leads IN THE HEIGHTS Manila Curtain Call

The cast of "In the Heights" Manila welcomes Lin-Manuel Miranda; photo by Girlie Rodis
by Oliver Oliveros, BroadwayWorld.com

A different kind of “Lin-sanity” is happening in Manila! Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator, original leading man, and Tony and Grammy Award-winning composer of the critically-acclaimed Broadway musical In the Heights, visited the Philippines for the first time, and led last night’s opening night curtain call for Atlantis Productions’ restaging of In the Heights – the show’s first ever licensed production in Asia, which features an all-Filipino cast – at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City. Esteemed talent manager, theater producer Girlie Rodis shares her opening night photographs with BroadwayWorld.com.

Miranda, who recently starred in the Encores! production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Merrily We Roll Along at New York City Center, and who is currently working on the Caldwell Theatre Company’s revamped production of Stephen Schwartz’s musical Working, grew up in Upper Manhattan's mostly-Hispanic neighborhood of Washington Heights.

Miranda first worked on In the Heights, a musical that presents a portrait of the Hispanic community in Washington Heights, when he was a sophomore student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 2000. His Filipina classmate, Aileen Payumo, played the role of Nina Rosario, a Standford University dropout, in the show’s first production. (Coincidentally, Filipino-American Broadway actress Arielle Jacobs played the role of Nina when the show closed on Broadway in January last year.)

After four years of development, In the Heights premiered on Off-Broadway's 37 Arts Theatre in 2007. The production transferred to Broadway's Richard Rogers Theatre in 2008. It was nominated for 13 Tony Awards, and won four: Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography for Andy Blankenbuehler, and Best Orchestrations for Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman. Its original Broadway cast recording also won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 2008.

In the Philippines, Atlantis Productions’ first staging of In the Heights, in September last year, won the Aliw Award for Best Ensemble Cast. Directed by Bobby Garcia, In the Heights’ repeat performances bring back the original, star-studded cast, including Nyoy Volante, Jackie Lou Blanco, Ima Castro, Calvin Millado, Tex Ordonez, K-La Rivera, Felix Rivera, Bibo Reyes, Jimmy Marquez, and Jay Glorioso – who also won an Aliw Award for her performance as Abuela Claudia.

Atlantis Productions' In the Heights features choreography by Cecile Martinez, musical direction by Ceejay Javier, set design by Mio Infante, lighting design by Jay Aranda, costume design by Twinkle Zamora, and vocal direction by ManMan Angsico. The audience can expect hip-hop, salsa, soul, and merengue (music and dance from the Dominican Republic) musical numbers from its Tony Award-winning score.

In the Heights runs until March 25. For tickets, call Atlantis Productions at (632) 892-7078 or (632) 840-1187.

For more photos, click HERE.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lin-Manuel Miranda Lands in Manila for the Restaging of IN THE HEIGHTS, 3/16-25

Grammy and Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel
Miranda; photo by Jennifer Forchelli
by Oliver Oliveros, BroadwayWorld.com

Manila, Philippines, March 14, 2012 – Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator, original leading man (Usnavi), and Tony and Grammy Award-winning composer of the critically-acclaimed Broadway musical In the Heights, just landed in Manila to attend the opening night of Atlantis Productions Inc.’s restaging of In the Heights – its first ever licensed production in Asia, which features an all-Filipino cast – on Friday, March 16 at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City.

Miranda, who recently starred in the Encores! production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Merrily We Roll Along at New York City Center, and who is currently working on the Caldwell Theatre Company’s revamped production of Stephen Schwartz’s musical Working, grew up in Upper Manhattan's mostly-Hispanic neighborhood of Washington Heights.

“I grew up in Northern Manhattan, and if you've ever even driven through the neighborhood, you know that music comes out of every corner. Salsa horn lines wail from fire escape windows; bachata guitar lines blare from pimped-out car stereos,” said Miranda on In the Heights’ official website.

Miranda first worked on In the Heights, a musical that presents a portrait of the Hispanic community in Washington Heights, when he was a student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 2003. After four years of development, the show premiered on Off-Broadway's 37 Arts Theatre in 2007. The production transferred to Broadway's Richard Rogers Theatre in 2008. It was nominated for 13 Tony Awards, and won four: Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography for Andy Blankenbuehler, and Best Orchestrations for Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman. Its original Broadway cast recording also won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 2008.

In the Philippines, Atlantis Productions’ first staging of In the Heights, in September last year, won the Aliw Award for Best Ensemble Cast. Directed by Bobby Garcia, In the Heights’ repeat performances will bring back the original, star-studded cast, including Nyoy Volante, Jackie Lou Blanco, Ima Castro, Calvin Millado, Tex Ordonez, K-La Rivera, Felix Rivera, Bibo Reyes, Jimmy Marquez, and Jay Glorioso – who also won an Aliw Award for her performance as Abuela Claudia.

“I’m so thrilled that Lin-Manuel Miranda will be coming to Manila for the opening of the repeat run. It will be an honor for all of us to have him see exceptional Filipino talents take on In the Heights,” said Garcia in a previous press statement. Miranda comes to Manila through a special partnership with Delta Airlines.

Atlantis Productions' In the Heights features choreography by Cecile Martinez, musical direction by Ceejay Javier, set design by Mio Infante, lighting design by Jay Aranda, costume design by Twinkle Zamora, and vocal direction by ManMan Angsico. The audience can expect hip-hop, salsa, soul, and merengue (music and dance from the Dominican Republic) musical numbers from its Tony Award-winning score.

For tickets, call Atlantis Productions at (632) 892-7078 or (632) 840-1187.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Photo Flash: De La Salle University Restages A FIRE IN THE SOUL

Floyd Tena, Al Gatmaitan, Franco Laurel, Michael De Mesa, and Miguel Castro
play Christian brothers in "A Fire In The Soul." Photo by JR Sala
by Oliver Oliveros, BroadwayWorld.com

Co-written by Jude Cartalaba

Manila, Philippines, March 13, 2012 – The De La Salle Brothers, Roman Catholic religious brothers who dedicate their lives to educating young people, recently celebrated the centennial anniversary of De La Salle University (DLSU) in the Philippines, and commemorated their colleagues who were killed by Japanese soldiers in World War II via the restaging of the cantata (a vocal chamber work) A Fire In The Soul, which features libretto by Vicente Groyon III, music by Von de Guzman, and direction by Peque Gallaga.

A Fire in the Soul tells the story of a crucial event in the history of the De La Salle Brothers’ teaching mission in the Philippines. On February 12, 1945, a group of Japanese soldiers barged in the door of the DLSU campus in Taft Avenue, Manila, and killed the people who were living there: 24 men, women, and children; and 16 De La Salle Brothers died that day.

A Fire In The Soul is successful in many ways, particularly in vividly capturing the De La Salle Brothers’ trials and tribulations during the war.

Franco Laurel as Br. Antonius Von Jesus, Michael De Mesa as Br. Edbert Xavier, Floyd Tena as Br. Lucian Athanacius, Miguel Castro as Br. Arkadius Maria, Al Gatmaitan as Mutwald William, and Jonel Mojica as Friedbert John play the De La Salle Brothers. Although Castro, Gatmaitan, and Mojica’s characters have their respective shining moments, Laurel, De Mesa, and Tena’s characters still stand out, and get the loudest applause from the audience.

Narrators are Jaime Fabregas (a stage, television, and film actor), Conchita Castillo (an educator and stage actress), Dado Jose (a retired banker and weekend farmer), Ricky Gallaga (a big collector of Nativity sets, and an actor-director for 50 years), Luis-Maria L. Zabaljauregui (an occasional stage, movie actor), and Tanya Lopez (an art advocate). Together, they provide deeper emotional layers to the unfortunate event, especially when they talk about the ordeals of the people who managed to survive the mass murder.

Gallaga proves once again he is one of the best directors in the country. He strikingly makes a point that the musical concert also serves as a tool to remind everyone to stay awake and to keep the fire burning in carrying out the vision of the Christian brothers.

Mio Infante (production designer), Dong Calingacion (technical and lighting designer), GA Fallarme (projection designer), Br. Bernard Oca, FSC (executive producer), and Lore Reyes (line producer) complete the show’s artistic and production team.

For more photos, click HERE.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Photo Flash: Blue Repertory's Production of BARE

Bibo Reyes plays Peter in Blue Repertory's production of Off-Broadway
musical Bare; photo by Jeffrey Aguiman
by Oliver Oliveros, BroadwayWorld.com

Co-written by Precious Lee Cundangan

Manila, Philippines, March 6, 2012 – Manila theatergoers have until Saturday, March 10, to catch Blue Repertory’s production of Off-Broadway musical Bare at Teatrino, Promenade, Greenhills Shopping Center. Theater and film actress Ana Abad Santos (39 Steps, A Grand Night for Singing) directs the production, starring Bibo Reyes (In the Heights, Hair) and Jaime Barcelon (Little Women, Disney’s The Little Mermaid).

Bare, which features the book, music, and lyrics of Jon Hartmere Jr. and Damon Intrabartolo, revolves around a group of high school seniors studying in a Catholic boarding school. The play deals with sexual orientation and gender identity issues among teenagers. In the middle of it all is the secret romance between Peter (Reyes), an altar boy, and Jason (Barcelon), the school’s golden child. Peter believes that their romantic relationship should be made public; Jason thinks otherwise.

Admiringly, Santos’ direction is emphatic, sensitive, and honest.

Reyes’ Peter is simply a breath of fresh air in a tension-filled play. The young actor lights up the stage with his acting and singing.

While on the contrary, Barcelon’s Jason needs to loosen up a bit more.

Besides Reyes and Barcelon, Maronne Cruz (Ivy), Cassie Manalastas (Nadia), Orange Sanchez and Franco Chan (Matt), Mark Bernardo (Lucas), Jenny Jamora (Peter’s mother, Claire) Rem Zamora (Sister Chantelle/Priest), Jussy Pena (Tanya), Mikah Franco (Kyra), Mica Fajardo (Dianne Lee), Raisa Tabusalla (Rory), Jian Kho (Zack), Gabriel Perez (Alan), Lara Antonio (Louise), Luigi Du (Jakob), CJ Francisco (Seth), Bernice Reyes (Mary Jane), and Dar Uy (Daniel) are also in the cast.

Onyl Torres (musical director for vocals), Abi Sulit (assistant musical director for vocals), Joseph Tolentino (musical director for the band), Carlon Matobato (choreographer), Leeroy New (set designer), John Batalla (lighting designer and technical director), Jethro Joaquin (sound designer), and Raven Ong (costume designer) complete the production’s creative and artistic team. 

For tickets, call Chiz Jardin at (63)916-578-7618 or email nicojardin12@yahoo.com.

Bare is presented with special arrangement with Theatrical Rights Worldwide, 570 Seventh Avenue, Suite 2100, New York. www.theatricalrights.com.

For more photos, click HERE.

StarKid's Lauren Lopez: How To Launch A Starship And Keep It Flying

StarKid Productions' company manager
Lauren Lopez; photo c/o Lauren Lopez
by Oliver Oliveros, BroadwayWorld.com

New York, March 5, 2012 -- Do you remember your college theater days? How many friends from your drama club have you kept in contact with? Ask these questions to University of Michigan alumna Lauren Lopez; we bet her quick answer would be “mostly all of them.” For Lopez and her former college theater buddies, who include Glee star Darren Criss, nothing’s more fun than setting up their own theater company, StarKid Productions.

Launched in 2009 at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theater, and Dance, StarKid Productions’ first-ever show, A Very Potter Musical (AVPM), a parody based on J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally successful book franchise and starring Criss as Harry Potter, was bound for an unprecedented worldwide success. AVPM’s YouTube version reached more than eight million views; and Entertainment Weekly listed it as one of the Top 10 Best Viral Videos of 2009.

“We’ve an incredible following in this very specific niche of people. I think they’re amazing. We actually always thought that StarKid’s fan base was much younger than it is. But if you look at our views on YouTube, our biggest fans are 18 to 25. It just so happened that the most visible, the most exuberant, and the most excited ones are about, I think, 14 to 18, 14 to 16. They’re the ones most likely to come out for all of our events, and to purchase merchandise, and all that stuff,” said Lopez, who was recently in New York City to star in a staged reading of another parody, Twilight: The Musical (produced by Dreamcatcher Entertainment), and to watch StarKid buddy Criss make his Broadway debut in the current revival of the musical comedy How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.

“StarKid didn’t think of doing a parody of Twilight. We kind of went looking at different options,” she added.

Right on the heels of AVPM, Lopez – who juggles her job as one of StarKid Productions’ company managers and as one of its resident actors – and her former college buddies have produced new shows, including Me and My Dick, a musical that tells a teen boy’s coming-of-age story; A Very Potter Sequel, a musical sequel to AVPM; and Starship, a musical about Bug, a human-sized insect who wants to become a Starship Ranger. All of these productions ran to sold-out audiences; and their YouTube versions also drove record viewership. StarKid Productions’ first national concert tour, The SPACE (StarKid Precarious Auditory Concert Experience) Tour, was highly successful, with well-attended concerts in Michigan, Boston, and New York, among others.

Darren Criss plays Harry Potter in StarKid
Productions' "A Very Potter Musical" and
"A Very Potter Sequel." Photo c/o
StarKid Productions
Lopez stressed that, “We just want to keep growing, having fun, and making quality stuff that people want to see.” However, running a theater company also has its business side. “Learning the world of business is challenging. We kind of had a crash course in it because everything happened so fast for us. We’re not prepared or expecting it. So yeah, we’re still learning as we go along. There were like hiccups here and there. But we’re lucky to have such incredible people to go to for advice. We have our agent, who’s amazing. We have agents and managers of friends, like Darren’s people, who’ve been really helpful and really supportive of us.”

Criss, in a lot of his media interviews for Glee and How To Succeed…, never fails to mention StarKid Productions’ latest offerings. The next one is Holy Musical B@man!, an all-new Batman-inspired musical premiering on March 21, and will run until March 25 at Hoover-Leppen Theatre at Center on Halsted in Chicago. Although Criss has his hands tied filming Glee, he took time out to join his StarKid family in its concerts in Boston and New York last year. He also wrote the music for Starship. StarKid Productions is also reportedly working on its latest parody of Harry Potter. “Darren will always be one of us, whether he likes it or not!” Lopez exclaimed. “His mainstream popularity definitely doesn’t hurt at all. Whereas before, we’re only exposed among a small group of people; but we’re now a little bit more spread out. He definitely helps with our visibility.”

“Every day at StarKid, we’re learning how to work with each other outside our friendships. And we’ve to re-evaluate how we approach the different aspects of the business because we’re not super well-read in them,” Lopez said. “We keep challenging ourselves; we keep learning how to deal with these challenges. But we don’t forget to have fun!”

StarKid Productions’ official website states that “now based In Chicago, StarKid remains committed in partnership with Al Gore to pioneering the Internet as a new outlet for theater distribution…Epilogue: After many decades of hard and successful work, all of the members of StarKid eventually died and were forgotten as the hands of time marched forward. We are all grains of sand on an infinite and unending beach. - J.R.R. Tolkien.” That may sound silly and funny. However, that’s how Lopez and her former college theater buddies, now business colleagues, launched their starship and have kept on soaring.

To get tickets for StarKid Productions’ latest musical, Holy Musical B@man!, visit www.teamstarkid.com.

Erratum:  Darren Criss is not currently working on StarKid Productions’ latest parody of “Harry Potter.”  Although there have been reports that the theater company is working on a third installment to “A Very Potter Musical.”