Showing posts from 2017

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 "…

'Macbeth' and a prelude to it, in a new Artist Playground venue

May 13, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

If you build it, they will come. Or in this case, it will expand.

Roeder Camañag and his cohorts established performing and arts group Artist Playground two years ago, providing Quezon City with at least one new professional theater group in addition to Philippine Educational Theater Association and Sipat Lawin Ensemble (not counting the campus theater groups).

They claimed the 30-seater 1701 The Little Room Upstairs off of Timog Avenue as their home theater and focused on one-act plays. Critics and theatergoers have praised their dexterity in staging productions within The Little Room's limited confines.

The group is now busy preparing to open a new, and bigger, playground. Taking over the penthouse of the West Venue Building along West Avenue, their additional theater has been christened Artist Playground II.

"We can now stage full-length productions with an intermission because now we have a lobby at AP II," says Ca…

Filipino-American playwright Han Ong returns to SF with new play

May 10, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — Filipino American playwright and MacArthur genius grant awardee Han Ong's new play "Grandeur" imagines a meeting between an ambitious young journalist and the late music artist Gilbert "Gil" Scott-Heron.

Ong's play on the soul and jazz poet, spoken-word artist and musician who explored blues and rap will premiere at Magic Theatre here in June.

The theater group's statement says the play's exploration of "questions of legacy, art, hope, and redemption drives this funny and gut-wrenching exchange."

Playing Scott-Heron is actor Carl Lumbly, known to TV viewers as Marcus Dixon on ABC's "Alias" and the voice of Martian Manhunter on the animated series "Justice League."

Magic's artistic director Loretta Greco helms the production. "'Grandeur' is a stunning and powerful ride; both …

George de Jesus’ ‘Kung Paano Maghiwalay’–the play Aiza used to propose to Liza Diño–is back

May 6, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Playwright George de Jesus asks: "Where does love go when a relationship ends? Does it go away? Why does it linger? Can it be completely forgotten?"

He tackles the answers in his play "Kung Paano Maghiwalay," a collection of vignettes about disintegrating relationships, which will be staged by Egg Theater Company from May to June.

Almost a decade ago, he was discussing with friends the movie "Closer," specifically the scene where one character (played by Natalie Portman) can be seen falling out of love with her lover (played by Jude Law).

"That inspired me to write this play, drawing from the experiences of some of my closest friends' own break up stories," he says.

Hope and heartache

"KPM was first staged before the concept of 'hugot' became a full-blown trend in both plays and movies," he laughs.

The play debuted as a staged reading in the 2008 Virgin Labfest, followed by…

Playwright Lani Montreal's 'Nanay' in Chicago's 'Night of the Living Moms' fest

May 4, 2017

CHICAGO — Playwright Lani Montreal is curating a festival of stories about motherhood titled "Night of the Living Moms," a pun on the zombie-horror movie "Night of the Living Dead."

"Parenting, joyful as it is, can be an exhausting, and at times, a zombifying enterprise," she says.

"It's going to be a garland of narratives told through poetry, dance and performance about what it's like to be a mother. It's vital for these stories to be told now and new creative work to be developed that validates our experiences as mothers."

Included in the festival is Montreal's new play "Nanay" (Filipino word for "mother"), about a young Filipina coming to terms with her mother's secret identity as a manananggal (a supernatural creature, usually disguised as a woman, that sprouts wings and flies off fro…

Deedee Magno Hall and Isa Briones star in 'Next to Normal' in LA

April 27, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- Actors Deedee Magno-Hall and Isa Camille Briones will play mother and daughter, respectively, in East West Players' staging of the musical "Next to Normal."

With music by Tom Kitt and libretto by Brian Yorkey, this Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning musical is about how Diana's mental health conditions affect her spouse Dan and daughter Natalie.

Magno-Hall takes the role of Diana and will act alongside her real-life husband Clifton (who is of partial Filipino descent), who plays Dan. Both just recently concluded the national tour of another Kitt-Yorkey musical, "If/Then," starring Idina Menzel.

Other Filipino Americans in the production include actors Anthea Neri (Diana understudy) and Randy Guiaya (Doctor Fine/Madden/Anesthesiologist); and musical director Marc Macalintal.

Runs in the family

Isa Briones is making her East…