Monday, April 23, 2012

It's Official: Valdez to Join Wilson in Resorts World Manila's THE KING AND I, Starting 9/15

Leo Valdez and Monique Wilson star in the Broadway
musical "The King and I" at Resorts World Manila.
Poster image c/o Resorts World Manila
by Oliver Oliveros, 

Manila, Philippines, April 23, 2012 – Leo Valdez, Cameron Mackintosh’s “favorite Engineer" in "Miss Saigon,” joins Monique Wilson, “Miss Saigon” alumna-turned-women’s rights activist, in Resorts World Manila’s (RWM) third major stage production, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved Broadway musical “The King and I,” which premieres on September 15 at RWM’s Newport Performing Arts Theatre on Newport Boulevard, Pasay City. RWM previously presented an original musical titled “Kaos,” and is currently running Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music," starring London-based musical theater actress Joanna Ampil, and Philippine theater ingénue Cris Villonco.

Valdez, who plays the King of Siam in “The King and I,” made his international theater debut portraying the role of the Engineer in the London production of “Miss Saigon” in 1995, which led to touring production assignments, essaying the same part, in Sydney in 1996; in Manila, Hong Kong, and Singapore in 2000 to 2001; in the United Kingdom in 2001 to 2005 (with breaks from time to time); and in Melbourne in 2007. He also recently starred in a Broadway-themed concert titled “Broadway Showstoppers,” featuring guest artists, Joanna Ampil, Ima Castro, Primo, and Opera Belles, held at RWM’s Newport Performing Arts Theatre.

Wilson, who plays the English governess, Anna Leonowens, in “The King and I,” portrayed bar girls Kim and Mimi in the original London production of “Miss Saigon” in the late ‘80s. With her passion burning for provocative, transformative theater, she has established her very own theater company, called New Voice Company, which staged works featuring strong women characters such as David Mamet’s “Oleanna,” Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” and Rachel Corrie’s “My Name is Rachel Corrie.” Currently teaching MA/MFA acting courses for international students at East 15 Acting School of the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, Wilson recently visited Manila, and organized V-Day 2012, a global movement that raises money for community organizations fighting violence against women, at Music Museum. She first announced her upcoming project with RWM during the press conference for V-Day 2012.

“The King and I,” which is based on the novel titled “Anna and the King of Siam” by Margaret Landon, and opened on Broadway in 1951, tells the story of a British governess, Anna Leonowens, who is hired by the King of Siam to take care of his many children. The relationship between the two is marred by conflicting ideologies, which prevent them from acknowledging and expressing their love for each other. The musical is known for its unforgettable score that includes “Getting to Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “We Kiss in the Shadow,” and “Shall We Dance.”

Directed by Freddie Santos, the staging of “The King and I” is aligned to RWM’s commitment to further develop the Philippine theater industry, and showcase world-class Filipino talent.

Upcoming performances of “The King and I” are made possible via a licensing agreement with Broadway Asia Company.

For tickets and more information, call RWM’s tourist hotline at tel. no. (632) 836-6333 or visit

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Salonga, Volante, Seguerra et al. To Guest Star in FORBIDDEN BROADWAY Manila, 5/11-27

by Oliver Oliveros,

Co-written by Jude Cartalaba

Manila, Philippines, April 19, 2012 – Joel Trinidad, Upstart Productions’ president, announced at a press conference on Tuesday that theater bigwigs Lea Salonga, Aiza Seguerra, Nyoy VolanteJett Pangan, Iya Villania, Nikki Valdez, Markki Stroem, and Gabe Mercado will guest star in the theater company’s summer production of Off-Broadway parody “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits,” written and originally directed by Gerard Alessandrini, and top-billed by Liesl Batucan, Caisa Borromeo, OJ Mariano, and Lorenz Martinez. The musical will run at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza on Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue from May 11 to 27.

In “Forbidden Broadway,” Batucan, Borromeo, Mariano, and Martinez will play a variety of roles as the four actors spoof show tunes, characters, and plot lines of beloved Broadway productions such as “Mamma Mia,” “Annie,” "Wicked," and “The Phantom of the Opera,” among others.

“I love ‘Forbidden Broadway’ because it pokes fun at all the big hits of Broadway, but in a good-natured way that’s never petty and mean,” said Trinidad, who will also direct the show's Manila premiere. “It’s like watching 20 or more Broadway musicals in one go! But you don’t even have to be familiar with any of the featured shows to appreciate it – that’s how well-written it is. It’s an amazing musical revue. It’s one of the funniest I’ve ever seen.”

The original version of “Forbidden Broadway,” which ran for 2,332 performances, opened at Palsson’s Supper Club in New York City on January 15, 1982. The show has been rewritten by Alessandrini more than a dozen times; he has also included parodies of the Great White Way’s latest smash hits.

“Forbidden Broadway” has toured London, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, and more than 200 cities in the United States.

In Manila, “Forbidden Broadway” will also feature Martin Esteva’s lighting design, Lawyn Cruz’s production design, Onyl Torres’ musical direction, and Dingdong Fiel's piano accompaniment.

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Photo Coverage: CARE DIVAS to Debut at OnStage Theatre, 4/27-29

Jason Barcial, Buddy Caramat, Jerald Napoles, Vincent De Jesus, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, and  Melvin Lee meet the  press.  Photo by Jory Rivera
by Oliver Oliveros,

Co-written by Jude Cartalaba

Manila, Philippines, April 17, 2012 – Considered as pillars of Philippine Theater, Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and Repertory Philippines (Rep) – coincidentally, both theater companies celebrate their 45th anniversary this year – are joining forces to bring one of PETA’s highly successful original Filipino musicals, “Care Divas,” to Rep’s home at Greenbelt 1’s OnStage Theatre on April 27 to 29.

Set in Tel Aviv, Israel, “Care Divas” tells the story of five Filipino male caregivers: the kind and loving Chelsea; the often sarcastic group leader Shai; the ditsy Thalia; the bubbly Kayla; and the ill-tempered Jonee; who transform into drag performers at night.

Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Rep’s associate artistic director, said, “Hosting ‘Care Divas,’ which I fell in love with the first time I saw it, is one way for us to provide ‘variety’ to our shows. It’s very timely, and I must say that the production deserves to be seen by theatergoers, especially from this side of Metro Manila.” 

During the press launch at Hit Productions’ studio in Amorsolo, Makati City, Maribel Legarda, the musical’s director, and Liza Magtoto, the show’s writer, were joined by the main cast: Melvin Lee (Chelsea), Vincent De Jesus (Shai), Jerald Napoles (Kayla), Buddy Caramat (Jonee), and Jason Barcial (Thalia). Besides Yulo, Rem Zamora, Rep’s marketing director, was also part of the panel.

Legarda believes that “Care Divas” has all the elements of a successful production, “It has aesthetic value; it has content; and based on its performance track record, this production can be sustainable,” she said. 

Furthermore, it was announced that Joy Virata, Rep’s artistic director for children’s theater, will join the cast as Adara and Sara, roles formerly portrayed by Cecille Garrucho, PETA’s president. Theater actors Dudz Teraña, Eric dela Cruz, Paul Holmes, Ricci Chan, Myke Salomon, Angeli Bayani, Miguel Hidalgo, and Dominic Miclat-Janssen are also performing.

For tickets to “Care Divas” at OnStage Theatre, call PETA’s marketing and public relations office at tel. nos. (632) 7256244, 4100821, +63917-5765400 or email

For more photos, click HERE.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Photo Flash: First Look at Fordham University's SWOONY PLANET

Daniel Velasco (Artie) and William Yuekun Wu (Leoncillo) in Fordham University Theatre
Program's production of Han Ong's "Swoony Planet;" photo by Rebecca Zoltowski
by Oliver Oliveros,

New York, April 16, 2012 – MacArthur Genius Grant winner Han Ong’s play “Swoony Planet” is closing Fordham University Theatre Program’s “A Season of Cultural Revolution 2011-2012,” which aimed at promoting cultural diversity through theater. “Swoony Planet,” preceded by Saviana Stanescu’s “For a Barbarian Woman,” Pierre Beaumarchais’ “The Marriage of Figaro,” and Naomi Iizuka’s “Anon(ymous),” will have its last weekend run from Thursday, April 19 to Saturday, April 21 at Fordham University’s Pope Auditorium (113 W 60th St. and Columbus Ave.). Mia Katigbak, artistic producing director for National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO), directs.

“Swoony Planet” won the Kesselring Prize for playwriting in 1993. The play presents a lyrical story of Asian immigrants searching for missing family members, and seeking for happiness in all the wrong places in modern-day America.

Its cast includes Micha Green as Kirtana (an Indian single parent); Kalon Hayward as an airport security guard; Precious Sipin as Jessica (a Filipino social worker); Daniel Velasco as Artie (Jessica’s son); William Yuekun Wu as Leoncillo (Artie’s long-lost father); Harry Dreyfuss as a magician and Kumar (Kirtana’s suitor); Paul Thode as a nursing attendant and Martin (Jessica’s American husband); and Taylor Armstrong Purdee as bugle boy.

For this campus-based production, Katigbak works with Kris Stone for scenic design; Isabelle Simone for costume design; Peter West for lighting design; Alex Hawthorn for sound design and composition; Deborah Gaouette for props design; and Sofia Montgomery for production management.

For tickets to “Swoony Planet,” email Ticket Prices: $15 for general admission, and $5 for seniors and students.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Theater actor and musical director Reb Atadero; photo by Dale Bacar
by Oliver Oliveros,

Co-written by Jude Cartalaba

Ateneo de Manila University alumnus-turned-stage actor, musical director Reb Atadero first appeared in Blue Repertory's 2006 production of "Hope for Flowers," a rock musical inspired by Trina Paulus' book of the same title. Apparently, Reb fell in love with the process of putting on a play, and since then has kept the ball rolling. By attending workshops handled by stage veteran Robbie Guevara, he studied musical theater, which he admitted was initially unknown to him. However, right after seeing the video version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s seminal rock musical “Jesus Christ Superstar,” he said to himself, “Where have you been all my life, musical theater? Such a progressive art form is a fantastic medium for telling stories!”

Prior to Reb’s first foray into a musical production, he shared with that he had been singing in bars, family gatherings, and the bathroom since he was four. “My passion for music originated from my dad’s side of the family. My great grandfather was generous enough to pass down the gift all the way to me; and I’m sure it’s also a God-given talent.”

Reb Atadero; photo by Dale Bacar
Pretty confident with his innate musicality, Reb’s equally talented friends give him that extra boost to follow the footsteps of his musical genes. “I also took a lot of inspiration from my friends. I would see them do so well on stage, and I get this insatiable hunger to be on stage, and do well too. I think musical artists call that ‘the itch’,” he said.

“I vowed from day one that I’m going to push myself to excel in this craft because it’s something that I love so much. Who knows, maybe one day – fingers and toes crossed – I’d get to do ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ It’s my dream to play the role of Judas,” he added.

Since “Hope for Flowers” with Blue Repertory, he has been working with the campus-based theater organization as one its actors and musical directors. To date, he has done Disney’s “High School Musical,” “Summer of ’42,” “Zanna, Don’t,” “Stages of Love” (an original musical by Rony Fortich and Andrei Pamintuan), “All Shook Up,” “Rock ‘N’ Rule,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” and “Bare.” The multi-talented musician also acted in Repertory Philippines’ 2008 production of Off-Broadway musical “Altar Boyz,” and in Dulaang UP’s original Filipino production of “Rizal X,” which presents the life and works of the Philippines’ national hero, Jose Rizal, through mixed popular media.

Even though Reb considers all his past musical theater projects were immensely close to his heart – it is almost impossible to single out a particular production because he has peculiar ways of categorizing the shows that he was a part of – he always has these thoughts crossing his mind: “I love this production because I made a lot of friends;” “I love this musical because it was fun;” or “I love this material because it stretched me so far as an actor.”

However, if he had to choose only one, he would pick “Rizal X.” “The friendships and relationships I developed during the course of that production will last forever. ‘Rizal X’ tested me in ways I never would have imagined. Its director, Dexter Santos, was a brilliant director. Nevertheless, I’m eternally grateful for each and every production I’ve done,” he said.

As Guy in “Once” and as Jason in “Bare”

Reb Atadero; photo by Dale Bacar
On, Reb recently did a cover version of the song titled “Say It To Me Now,” from the 2006 independent movie musical “Once,” which is now a critically-acclaimed stage production on Broadway. “I remember watching the movie for the first time. ‘Say It To Me Now’ opens the movie, and the lead actor, named Guy (Glen Hansard), starts singing. The song is so poignant and tender. Then all of a sudden, he goes into the chorus in which he screams his lungs out with so much passion,” he recalled. “That’s my kind of music! If it changes, hits, or affects something in you, it’s worth listening to.”

When asked if he would audition for the role of Guy if ever the stage adaptation of “Once” were brought to the Philippines, without batting an eye, he said, “Yes, a million times, yes. I’d love to play that role since I can relate to him a lot.”

“Also, like Guy, I play the guitar, and write spontaneous songs; Guy is another role of a lifetime. I call on the powers that be of Philippine theater to please bring this musical to the country.”

On the other hand, in “Bare,” Reb wants to try the role of Jason (He played the part of Peter Simmonds in Blue Repertory’s recent revival of the Off-Broadway musical “Bare” at Teatrino). “I’d love to play Jason. I’d always ask Jaime Barcelon (Jaime played Jason opposite Reb’s Peter), whenever he’d finish doing his breakdown scenes toward the end of the Act Two: How do you do that every single night? It’s such a challenging role that requires so many layers, and, most of all, heart. I’d love to take on that challenge,” he said.

Theater Wisdom 

Over the years, Reb has realized one important thing, “Talent will only get you so far as a performer. It takes hard work, passion, and dedication to complete the formula,” he said. “If you want to be a theater actor, the first thing you have to understand is that acting on stage is one of the most unselfish jobs in the world; it’s about giving all of who you are to tell a story, which is aimed at changing someone’s life in the audience. 

“However, trust me, after all that, it pays off like nothing else on this planet. So keep honing your talent! If you’re a singer, sing anywhere, everywhere, and whenever! If you’re a dancer, keep on moving! If you’re an actor, keep giving! And when you give, make sure there’s nothing left in the tank after your performance.”

Follow Reb on Twitter: @rebranger or listen to his cover songs at

Monday, April 09, 2012

Anna Maria Perez de Tagle Holds Benefit Concert On Board Cruise Ship, 5/7

Anna Maria Perez de Tagle live in concert on Monday, May 7;
poster image image c/o w8888entertainment
by Oliver Oliveros,

New York, April 9, 2012 -- Godspell star Anna Maria Perez de Tagle holds a benefit concert for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on Monday, May 7, on board the Hornblower Hybrid (embarking at 7 p.m. from Pier 40), featuring de Tagle's Godspell costars Corbin Bleu, Wallace Smith, Nick Blaemire, Eric Krop, and George Salazar, and Filipino-American television and film actor and singer Sam Milby. Sonny Paladino (Disney's High School Musical, Billy Elliot) is musical director. recently cornered Paladino who graciously talked about de Tagle, and what fans could anticipate from the cruise entertainment. "Fans should expect a mix of pop and musical theater. Anna’s diverse style is allowing us to perform both traditional musical theater pieces alongside some real – in your face – pop tunes. Expect everything from Boublil and Schonberg, to Kander and Ebb, to Lady Gaga, and maybe even a little Cee Lo Green! Tell me that’s not diverse!" he said.

The young musical director and de Tagle first met when the singer and actress was preparing for her audition piece for the current Broadway production of Godspell, the show's first major revival after 40 years. Paladino recalled, "I was immediately blown away by her voice and her presence, and I thought, I can't wait to really work on something with this talented woman. When she asked me to music direct this concert, I was totally pumped. This is our first time really getting to work together."

"The greatest thing about Anna is that she lives in more than one musical world. Anna is obviously a great pop singer, as her work in television and film shows. But now after starring on Broadway this year (did you know she hasn’t missed a single performance?), she has really become a fantastic musical theater singer as well," he added.

Although it was Godspell costar Telly Leung whom de Tagle first consulted on the concert's repertoire, Paladino also had a hand in finalizing the set list. "We needed to choose great songs (there will be a few exciting duets) that her equally brilliant guests could sing with her. I think we have an awesome lineup," he said.

To purchase tickets for de Tagle's concert, call 1-818-823-1628 or email Ticket Price: $50