By Walter Ang
Dec. 28, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer
|Mio Infante's set design perspectives|
for "Rak of Aegis"
The rock-comedy musical will have songs such as "Halik," "Sinta," "Luha" and "Basang Basa sa Ulan," rearranged by musical director Myke Salomon.
The cast is led by Isay Alvarez-Seña, Robert Seña, Aicelle Santos ("Katy!"), and Poppert Bernadas ("Lorenzo"). Peta artistic director Maribel Legarda will direct.
Inspired by Tropical Storm "Ondoy" and the flooding that came with it, Liza Magtoto wrote a script set in the flooded barangay of Villa Venizia where its residents face compromising situations: natural disasters and broken hearts.
Legarda approached set designer Mio Infante to create the watery world for this production. His semi-arena set is envisioned to have "actual knee-high-deep water."
Infante's recent design credits (set and costumes) include Triumphant Peoples Evangelistic Theater Society's (Trumpets)' "The Bluebird of Happiness" and 9 Works Theatrical's "Grease" (where he also served as associate artistic director), though he's been designing for theater, dance, television and live concerts since the '90s.
"I was a young actor in Repertory Philippines once upon a time, while juggling studies at the University of the Philippines' College of Architecture," he says. "One day, somebody had a bright idea of me assisting the then resident set designer at Rep by drawing design studies.
"After a couple of months, the designer had a big row with Tita Bibot [Amador] (then founding artistic director) and walked out during tech week. That was my baptism of fire.
"Good thing everyone at Rep was very encouraging and my professors at the college were more than willing to help give me tips. Before I knew it, I was designing all of eight plays and two small musicals in Rep's annual season."
After college, Infante also designed for Tanghalang Pilipino and Trumpets. He finished his Master of Arts in Scenography/Theatre Design at the Wimbledon School of Art in London in 1997.
In his maiden production for Peta, Infante found the technical challenges that the script called for "interesting."
"I have previously designed for black-box (theaters that are essentially "empty" spaces with no permanent seating nor stages) staging with the water element, but this is the first time I've had to incorporate the floodway as an ever-present scenic element, that the actors negotiate on throughout the play.
"We looked into how Filipinos adapted to unceasing flood conditions in their communities and the remarkable resilience of the Pinoy spirit."
Infante has designed several original productions for Trumpets, though his discography lists mainly foreign material that have been staged locally.
"I find that there is not much of a difference between designing a licensed Broadway material and doing original productions," he says.
"First, I ask to know why the show is being staged, and for whom, and where it will be staged. The collaboration among the creative team (and playwrights, if original) takes on a very special route for each and every production.
"On arriving at a mise-en-scene for the show, it takes a lot of discussion with the creative team, a great deal of scenographic research while aligning expectations and managing realistic production budgets."
"Rak of Aegis" will showcase the Aegis band's chart-toppers such as "Luha," "Halik," "Sundot," "Christmas Bonus" and "Basang Basa sa Ulan," performed by--aside from the Seña couple, Santos and Bernadas--a cast that includes Joan Bugcat, Ro Alfonso, Jet Barrun, Kakai Bautista, Poppert Bernadas, Gimbey dela Cruz, Neomi Gonzales, Pepe Herrera, Carlon Matobato, Julienne Mendoza, John Moran, Jerald Napoles, Gie Onida, Phillip Palmos, Myke Salomon, Paeng Sudayan and Gold Villar.
"Rak of Aegis," says the Peta press statement announcing the show, "is a musical filled with visual spectacle showcasing the Pinoy's natural love for music and innate resilience in the face of calamity.
The musical is created by the same women behind Peta's hit comedy musical "Care Divas," Peta artistic director Maribel Legarda and Palanca Award-winning writer Liza Magtoto, with musical arrangement and musical direction by actor-musician Myke Salomon.
"Rak of Aegis" has choreography by Gio Gahol, costume design by Carlo Pagunaling and lighting design by Jon Jon Villareal.
It runs Jan. 31, 2013-March 9, 2014 at Peta-Phinma Theater, Peta Theater Center, 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City (behind Quezon City Sports Club). Contact 7256244, 0917-5765400 or email@example.com.
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