How PJ Rebullida is training a band of actors to become high-kicking "Newsies"

June 24, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

In 9 Works Theatrical's upcoming staging of "Newsies the Musical," only the book (script), lyrics and music must be followed. All other aspects of the show (direction; designs for costumes, set, lighting, etc.) must be created from scratch.

"We can't do what they did on Broadway," says the show's choreographer Patrick Rebullida. "We have to create and are required to have our own vision."

The musical is about boys who sell newspapers on the streets of 1899 New York City and their strike to challenge the low wages paid to them by publishers.

With music by Alan Menken ("Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast"), lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein ("La Cage aux Folles," "Kinky Boots"), the musical is based on the 1992 Disney movie.


Rebullida's been working with director Robbie Guevara and the rest of the artistic team to build th…

These boots are made for dancing: the Manila shoe studio that makes theater footwear

Atlantis Theatrical's 'Kinky Boots,' opening June 30, is just one of many local shows depending on one plucky shoemaking company in Cubao for its costume footwear

June 17, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

How does a failing shoemaking factory save itself? By making stiletto-heeled boots for men.

The musical "Kinky Boots" is about cabaret performer and female impersonator Lola helping shoe factory owner Charlie Price keep his business afloat.

Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group (ATEG)'s upcoming production of the musical will have Nyoy Volante as Lola and Laurence Mossman, originally from New Zealand, as Charlie.

The Tony-winning musical (including Best Musical and Best Score), with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and book by Harvey Fierstein, is based on the British film of the same title.

It starred Chiwetel Ejiofor ("Dr. Strange," "12 Years a Slave") as Lola and Joel Edgerton ("Revenge of the Sith," "Great …

Mail-Order Pride: Fil-Am baker sends Filipino pastries to foodies in the US

June 16, 2017

LAS VEGAS — First, a list of ingredients and flavors usually associated with the Philippines: mango, jackfruit, calamansi, pandan, tamarind, coconut, macapuno (gelatinous coconut meat), matamis sa bao (caramelized coconut jam), ube (purple yam), cashews and chocnut (peanut-milk chocolate bar).

There are also egg or milk-based treats: leche flan (flan), yema (custard candy), dulce de leche (caramelized milk) and milk candies like powdery polvoron and chewy pastillas.

Second, a list of pastry vessels: cookies, cupcakes, poptarts, twinkies, snickerdoodles, madeleines. Non-pastry carriers include truffles, mallows, popcorn and lollipops.

Gregory "Greggy" Soriano combines one to two items from the first list into varying iterations with the second and sends them off to foodies in the US and Canada with his pastry subscription box service, Flip Crate.


Fil-Am actors play homicidal couple in musical thriller 'Sweeney Todd' in Seattle

June 15, 2017

SEATTLE — Filipino American actors Ben Gonio and Corinna Lapid Munter play a murderer and an evidence-eliminating accomplice, respectively, in "Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street," ongoing until July 1.

Staged by ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery, this musical thriller follows Sweeney Todd (Gonio) as he returns to London to exact revenge on corrupt officials, aided by pie-maker Mrs. Lovett (Lapid Munter). Music and lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim and book is by Hugh Wheeler.

Co-directors Mathew Wright (who is also ArtsWest's artistic director) and Eric Ankrim have developed a bold vision for "Sweeney Todd" that places race, oppression and power squarely at the forefront of this new telling, says ArtsWest in a statement.

The show has been multiracially cast and includes black, Latino and white actors.

Right time


Fil-Am comedian Ron Muriera helps keep San Jose Stage Company running

June 7, 2017

SAN JOSE, California—Filipino American Ron Muriera is San Jose Stage Company's new development director. He's a stand-up comedian, but this new gig is no laughing matter.

Muriera is responsible for raising funds for the group, which includes researching for available grants and preparing the proposal applications. He also handles donor relations, which includes reaching out to potential donors and cultivating relationships with them.

He first became involved with The Stage in 2011 as a grants consultant. "I was working with my longtime friend, Filipino American playwright Jeannie Barroga, on her production of `Buffalo'd.'"

After the play ended, he was asked to stay on as a consultant for both fundraising and educational outreach. The position of development director was offered to him last year.

"We hope to announce The Stage's 2…

Malou Jacob pens her last play, and some 'Notes for the Filipino Playwright'

June 3, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

"I've just finished what I refer to as my last play," says Malou Jacob.

"'Batang Mujahideen' has as backdrop the Abu Sayyaf's kidnapping of a priest, a principal, some teachers and pupils of Claret School in Tumahubong, Basilan. It's an interpretation of the chaos of our 21st century.

"My hope is it be produced and toured nationally in the regional languages, ultimately changing the mindset of the Christian majority vis-a-vis the Muslim and lumad minorities."

Jacob says this is her last play because she wants to shift to "testing the waters of poetry" and finally reading her "accumulated books through the years."

But, just in case Jacob can't be enjoined to write another play in the future, audiences, theater artists, scholars, students and up-and-coming playwrights can take solace in the fact that she's codified a few of her pointers for them in a new book, &q…

'Noli Me Tangere' opera to be staged in Boston

June 1, 2017

BOSTON — The opera version of "Noli Me Tangere" will be shown here via a staging by Opera Brittenica in June, to be sung in Tagalog with English supertitles.

The opera has music by Felipe de Leon and libretto by Guillermo Tolentino. Its title is Latin for "touch me not" and its plot is based on the novel by Jose Rizal of the same title.

The story involves Crisostomo Ibarra's return to the Philippines after years of studying abroad and his encounters with love, corruption and attempts at his life.

Filipino Americans in the cast include baritone Peter Rolfe Dauz as Elias and tenor Joachim Luis as Don Filipo and Manlilibing.


KGB Productions chair Karrel Bernardo and executive producer Gerardo Gaddi intend to shepherd this opera across the US.

Bass-baritone Bernardo began his singing career in the Philippines and studied under Antonio Hila. Since moving to Chi…

This Marikina café serves up Buffalo wings, Yakult smoothies -- and theater productions

May 27, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

One drunken night, Jay Crisostomo IV shouted that he would build a café-cum-gallery-cum-theater.

He'd been working with several theater groups but faced high venue rental fees.

"We wanted to perform, to share, to give what we learned. But it wasn't always so easy. The solution was daunting, yet simple. Build your own space," he says.

Crisostomo wanted "a space for artists, both new and old, experienced and learning, known and unknown."

The morning after, his girlfriend put him to task. "After three months, and the support of family and friends, Dito: Bahay ng Sining Café and Art Space opened."

At the second floor of a building along Molina Street in Marikina, the 40-seater café (50 if you count the al fresco seats) and 100-seater theater has hosted painting sessions, art bazaars and performances since then.


"I used to do everything from mopping the floors, to cooking, to groceries…

Hortense Gerardo’s play in Boston, dance film in NY

May 24, 2017

BOSTON — Filipino American playwright Hortense Gerardo's new play "Virtuous Reality" will be staged in June at Boston Playwrights' Theatre.

In this short play, chat room friends Rhett and Scarlett finally meet in 3D and discover a brave, new, unmediated world. Jay Pension directs.

Gerardo also choreographed and dances in the film "Infinite Corridor," which will screen at New Dance Alliance's Performance Mix Festival in New York, also in June.

"Virtuous Reality" is part of the 45th Playwrights' Platform Festival of New Plays, where eight other plays will be staged. Playwrights' Platform is Boston's longest-running playwright-run cooperative focused on developing new works.

Gerardo has previously written a one-act play "On the Fabric of the Human Body" and short plays "The Engagement," "…

Bindlestiff’s new artistic director known for ‘heart and talent’

May 17, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — Aureen Almario had always considered herself a visual artist, until she took a workshop with Bindlestiff Studio and saw the possibilities of doing theater work.

Nearly two decades later, she has been appointed the new artistic director of the Filipino American theater company.

"Witnessing amazing artists and a creative community that looked like me completely changed my life," she says.

"For most of my life, performance art was something I would not have dared to do. But the Bindlestiff space and the people in it were inspiring and that empowered me to try it."


Almario has been a resident artist at Bindlestiff for more than a decade. Her acting credits for the group include productions of "A Pinoy Midsummer," an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream," A. Rey Pamatmat's "…