Sunday, September 8, 2013

"Nais Kong Maging Kasapi ng Katipunan!" - Oryang

I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last update.  I apologize, but I do have a very good reason!

In my last post I mentioned that I was rehearsing for a new, original musical titled, “Katipunan: Mga Anak ng Bayan” being produced by Gantimpala Theater Foundation.  Well, rehearsals have finished and we have already started touring.  This year is the 150th anniversary of the birth of hero Andres Bonifacio, so it is quite fitting for the debut of this show.  The show is directed by Joel Lamangan and Jun Pablo.  And I feel so grateful and thankful for working with them for the first time.

This is my first time to be involved with an original musical.  This makes for a very different experience than the other shows I have done here in Manila.  There is no original cast recording you can buy to study the songs.  We are the original cast for this musical!  Although “Katipunan” (written by Bonifacio Ilagan) was performed and produced by Gantipala 36 years ago, it was not a musical then.  When Direk Joel and Direk Jun mentioned that they were part of the original straight play as actors in 1977 (the year I was born!!), I knew they already had a clear vision for this musical version, aside of course from their very long, successful credentials as directors.  It’s so exciting to be a part of this living thing that can change from rehearsal to rehearsal.  With that comes some added pressure as we would sometimes get a song at the beginning of rehearsal, can listen 2 or 3 times, and then go immediately into blocking on the stage.  Keeping everyone on their toes is good professional experience though and I am always up for a challenge.

Upper left: opening scene; Upper right: Bows at the end of the show
Lower left: Full cast number; Lower right: Andres courting Oryang

On a lighter note, the part of the show that always gets great feedback is the love story between Andres and Gregoria.  The nervousness as Andres courts Gregoria, the wedding, and even fighting side-by-side.  As our audiences are primarily students, they enjoy the love story and it reaches the peak with the big kiss on stage!  I am so grateful to share the stage with such a talented, young actor, Sandino Martin, who plays the role of Andres Bonifacio.  At our first rehearsal I thought I would look more like his mother than his wife!  He is a great sport with the love scenes and is always asking me if my husband is OK with it.  And a favorite part of mine is when Gregoria falls in love; there is such a great melody (written by composer and actor RJ Jimenez) in the song “Puso Ko’y Lumilipad.”
The music perfectly matches the
light-hearted mood as I get to float
across the stage in love.

Poster for Katipunan Mga Anak ng Bayan
Our tour has been fun but also challenging.  Because there is travel to new venues in the province, sometimes our call time to travel on the bus is at 3am.  And our first show is usually at 9am, so our call time is 5:30am with a sound check at 7am!!!!  That part definitely takes a toll on the body and voice.  Singing and belting at 9am!  But we get to perform for great audiences of students who have really enjoyed the show.  The show is very intense and physical throughout so by the time we are finished we are dripping with sweat and I feel like I just finished doing an Insanity workout ten times.  The benefit is that I think most of us lost weight, but we always find ourselves hungry from       working so hard.  One thing we found as a cast is that we really enjoy peanut butter, from the times we started rehearsing, then touring. I definitely always make sure to pack those for snacks- good source of protein.

Various shots of the cast during our rehearsals.
We became one big, happy family.  Sugod mga kapatid!
I am so honored to have been able to be a part of this production with Gantimpala Theater Foundation.  I would personally like to thank Direk Joel Lamangan, Sir Jun Pablo, Cicey (stage/production manager, cast manager, and so much more), and my fellow cast and the hardworking production staff.  And also thank you to the students and teachers from the schools in Dagupan, Tarlac, and Pampanga who came to watch the show.  I made several new friends and this project definitely came along at just the right time for me.  Thank you all for the journey, you all don’t even know that you are saving me from insanity!  I can’t explain further but I can surely say that MUSIC and performing have always saved me from getting lost in all life’s challenges.  God is constantly great!  He orchestrates everything so perfectly!  So I must say, thank you to the many blessings, and even the challenges, in life!

Thank you Sandino for this artwork, honored to play Gregoria de Jesus (Oryang)

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