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.