Saturday, May 5, 2018

Recap of PSF THEATER FESTIVAL 2018 (Week 3): I DIDITH SHOW, TULA NI VITO AT LIRA, LUKREZIA, BABAE NGA NAKA-ITUM

May 5, 2018

The PSF Theater Festival is not only a forum for some very daring pieces of original Filipino one act plays. For me, I also get a valuable education about the theater process from the commentary given by the illustrious and learned panel of judges and theater professionals in attendance. Like for the third week shows today, I learned a lot about appreciating various aspects of theater from judges Frank Rivera and Rodel Mercado and guests Ronald Carballo, Jeffrey Ambrosio, Robert Encila, and Neil Tolentino. Their spontaneous, frank, passionate and precise comments, borne out of their years of theater experience, were very instructive and enlightening for a theater enthusiast like me, and moreso for the young theater artists in the house.


The workshop showcase this week was "I DIDITH SHOW", the first prize winning play in the 2014 PSF Theater Festival. It is written and directed by JP LopezDidith Lorenzo is a superstar singer who has had been hosting a long-running TV variety show, on air for the past 20 years. In this latest episode of her show, her special guest was a pretty and popular new singer named Love Moreno. The two singers vie to get the upper hand over the other during the whole show. While Love had her boyfriend Stephen (Michael Cabangon) and her manager Ferdie (Roznel Destajo), it seemed that all Didith had on her corner was her loyal gay PA Lilibeth. Or does she?


Love (Rachel) steals the camera from Didith (OJ)

Didith literally steals the camera!

Lilibeth (Ado) makes a move on Stephen

The play is very entertaining, frenetic and hilarious, roasting showbiz stereotypes. At the same time it also had some unexpectedly touching bittersweet moments. OJ Bacor delivered such a rousing bravura performance as Didith, you won't believe he only pitched in today. JP Lopez gave a wry portrayal of the show's cynical floor director Rick. Standing out among the workshoppers was Rachelle Mae Penaflor, a pretty petite girl who exuded Ariana Grande-like confidence and verve as Love; and Ado Tolentino, who gave a poignant performance as Lilibeth, Didith's big fan now her personal slave.




The revisited play of the week was "TULA NI VITO AT LIRA", which won the first prize during the 2016 PSF Theater Festival. The playwright is Rachael Gianan and directed by Vince Tanada. It was Valentine's Day at a Spoken Word Night in a bar, where two contestants tackle three given topics using extemporaneous poetry. The contestants that night were a shy newbie Lira and a confident veteran Vito. As the contest between the two ensue, their poetry revealed a painful past relationship that never had proper closure. 


Gianan, Sadsad, Olmedo

The poetic writing of Gianan in the Filipino language was gloriously eloquent. The delivery of those dueling lines by Vean Olmedo (as Lira) and Kenneth Sadsad (as Vito) was flawless, brimming with sharp emotions that just poured out so naturally from them. Those tears were flowing even when the tension was still on the rise, testifying how deeply in character these two actors were. Their chemistry together was undeniable and vital. Humor was provided by the flamboyant emcee Dindi (Jayjay Andres) to keep the play from going into full-on romantic melodrama mode.




The first play in the main competition tonight was "LUKREZIA" written by first-time playwright Johnrey Rivas and directed by Vince Tanada. An exhausted set designer (JP Lopez) brought in the main prop for their play, a life-size porcelain doll. Going into the doll's history, this doll was created by a man named Vladimir with an obsession for his departed childhood friend Lukrezia. A widow named Olga, who rented a room in Vladimir's house, would soon realize why Lukrezia's face looked very familiar to her.


Adult Vladimir (Magallanes), Lukrezia (Belen) and Young Vladimir (Dean Rafols)

Rivas shared that his play was inspired by a minor news article with a story so bizarre that he felt it would make a perfect macabre play. Gerald Magallanes gave another one of his intense creepy performances as the disturbed doll maker Vladimir. Adelle Ibarrientos with her intentionally melodramatic acting as Olga provided some lightening balance to the dark story. The center of attention though was the riveting performance of Pearl Belen as the doll Lukrezia. With her bright open eyes and limp arms, she had no lines, but she dominated the stage the whole time with her mere chilling presence.




The second play in the main competition and final play of the night was "BABAE NGA NAKA-ITUM" written by Chin Ortega and JP Lopez. This was again directed by Vince Tanada. The story told about beautiful Jacinta (a boldly incandescent Cindy Liper) who was the town's celebrated prostitute, and her profound effect on the devoutly Catholic townspeople, in particular, the grotesquely deformed sculptor Ramon (Chin Ortega) and the spunky lesbian, Judit (Arian Golondrina). 


Cindy Liper

In his introduction, Lopez shared how the script, written in the Ilonggo language (with Filipino surtitles on a TV screen on the side), had been so difficult to write, barely completed four days prior to showtime. While watching the play in progress, you know you are watching something special. Even if you do not really comprehend at once every thing that was going on, this provocative material will make you ruminate about it and discuss it well after its final scene and lights out.


Ramon (Ortega) and Judit (Golondrina)

As the show was in progress, one can only stare in awe in how the director Tanada was able to achieve such a complexly artistic staging of such a philosophically-loaded, religiously-charged controversial material in so little time, with a bare stage, classically inspired choreography, with practically no props. This could only be a collaborative product of sheer genius.


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The first play of the afternoon was already ongoing. This was an competing entry in the Inter--Collegiate category, "FELIPA" by senior high school students from the University of Batangas. The depressing play told the tale of the town prostitute Felipa (representing the Philippines) who was consecutively abused by a series of "customers" (representing the presidents, from Marcos to Duterte). 


"Felipa", writer-director Errol, and "Rudy"

I cannot comment much because I came in towards the tail end already. A snooty "GMA" was doing a Cha-cha dance, a childish dolt "Noy" was stealing potted cactuses, then brusque "Rudy" came in for the final rape. The concept was daring, but the final execution was limited, maybe because of the very young actors. The episodes of presidential "abuses" could have been staged with better symbols. I was disturbed that Felipa was depicted as a resigned prostitute, especially when who she symbolized became apparent. 


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Recap of PSF THEATER FESTIVAL 2018 (Week 2): PULA, STARS, CONTROL S, THE GALLERY

April 29, 2018

This year is the 12th year of Theater Festival by the Philippine Stagers Foundation. This is held for four consecutive Saturdays each summer, and yesterday was the second week Critics Night. Despite starting past 8 pm already because of technical problems, there were still seven original one-act plays presented -- three amateur (by participants of their FREE summer acting workshop), one competition piece by a guest collegiate theater organization, one revisted former winning play, and two new competition plays written by Stagers themselves. As before, this was held in PSF Studio in Sampaloc, Manila.

The judges for the competition this year include theater writer, director and actor Frank Rivera, artistic director of Frontline Theater Company Rodel Mercado, and award-winning young actor Christian Bables (of "Die Beautiful" fame). I look forward to listening and learning from their instructive comments about the plays being presented. Last night though, only judge Bables was present. However, actress Chai Fonacier (so awesome in "Respeto" "Pauwi Na" and "Patay na si Hesus") was also there with her insights. Also on hand that night with valuable comments was Prof. Gigi Velarde David, a choreographer, director and professor of humanities and theater.



The first play in competition in the Inter-collegiate category was Danielle Hill's "PULA" presented by the Tanghalang Batingaw from Lyceum College, directed by Kyxz Feliciano and Justin Santiago. This was the same college company that won the big prize in this same category last year, and with their performance last night, they are certainly in the running for Best Collegiate Play again this year. 


The Chorus of "Pula"

The intense Sweet Hearty Puyong

"Pula" is a play about Martial Law abuses, but this one goes for the jugular in portraying the horrible torture experienced by Lilli Hilao and Boyet Mijares. To say it is gory or explicit is an understatement. This is not a play you "enjoy." Rather, it is absorbing and disturbing, gut-wrenching and painful to watch. The staging with the dramatic red lights and pulsating music was very effective. However, the centerpiece of this intense play was the raw, bold and fearless multi-character performance of Sweet Hearty Puyong. One of the most heart-wrenching and realistically harrowing acting I had ever seen on a stage. 



Norma (Nacional) and Wilma (Liper)

Next was a play which won the first prize in the PSF Theater Festival in 2012, "STARS" by JP Lopez, directed by Vincent Tanada. This was about Norma Aunor (Glory Ann Nacional) and Wilma Santos (2012 Best Actress Cindy Liper), two neighbors who used to be best friends, but are now bitter enemies. When they argue with each other, they use famous lines from the movies of their idols, Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos, a lot of fun for fans of local pop culture. Their maids, Jolens (Quincy Ramos) and Juday (Pearl Belen) also reflect the rivalry of their masters, but their sons Boyet (Kiel Najera) and Edward (Cedie Duller) seem to be getting along just fine.



Girl (Bagtas), May-akda (Martinez) and and Boy (Garcia)

The first of the plays in the main competition this year followed, "CONTROL S" written by Cedie Duller, directed by Vincent Tanada. This was about a successful movie scriptwriter May-Akda (Brent Martinez) now devastated by the recent death of his partner Josh. The characters of the script he is working on Boy (Poul Garcia) and Girl (Cherry Bagtas) try to get him to start writing again. The concept of the play was very interesting, although I cannot say I completely understood what Boy and Girl were trying to do and why they were doing it.



Roy (Rivas) and Dion (Bocor)

The final play of the night, which started almost 1 am already, is another play in the main competition, "THE GALLERY" written by three-time Best Play winner in the festivals past, JP Lopez, again directed by Vincent Tanada. His new play is an absurd, over-the-top play about a young drug addict gigolo Roy (Johnrey Rivas) who answered an ad by intersex artist Dion (OJ Bacor) for a model. This wild play went in all directions, with diverse elements of various genre -- comedy, sexy, horror and even politics -- all rolled into one campy, flamboyant and schizophrenic show. Its sense of the macabre simply went off the charts! I won't be surprised if this one will also win something come awards night. 


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Before these competition plays, three short one act plays by workshoppers by presented and critiqued by the judges and members of the audience. These were directed by Stagers who were participating in the ongoing Director's Workshop. 



The cast of "Sa Parlor"

The first short one-act play was called "SA PARLOR" written by Atty. Vince Tanada in 2005, and performed many times over the years. This time, it was directed by Pearl Belen. This was about a pair of gay beauticians, the veteran Chit and the newcomer Chanda, who were arguing if their boss Carding was gay or not. The two actors playing the beauticians were very shrill, while the guy playing Carding was on the other end of the energy scale. There seemed to be a lot of lines missed by the nervous actors, which ended up with a puzzling plot that I did not really understand.


Geraldine of "Sa Carinderia"

The second short one-act play was called "SA CARINDERIA" which Atty. Tanada says he wrote 30 years ago. This was directed by Chin Ortega. This was a one-woman show about a bored owner of a roadside eatery with no customers so she ends up talking to the flies and the food she cooked (and recooked). This was certainly very challenging, but this young aspiring actress named Geraldine took it on with a lot of cheeky nerve. She was not shy to make fun of her prominent chin to gain more laughs. There may have been some issues of comic timing last night (like reacting ahead of seeing what was in the pots), but this girl is a very promising comedienne.


Biboy and Yvonne of "Babae Po Ako"

The third short one-act play was "BABAE PO AKO" written by Jordan Ladra. This was directed by Cherry Bagtas. It is about a young lady Yvonne, who had once been deceived by her first boyfriend Biboy, who turned out to be gay. Now, her new boyfriend Noel is planning to propose to her. How will she react? The pretty actress playing Yvonne was so over-the-top and loud, as was the style of actor playing Biboy. They had some funny slapstick moments together, but it was not always clear what they were talking about in all their hyper excitement. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Review of UPPT"s THE KUNDIMAN PARTY: Championing Culture and Country

April 21, 2018




The name of playwright Floy Quintos is a trusted brand of excellence in local theater. For the past three decades or so, he has written some of the most memorably intelligent plays both in English and Filipino, all with strong socio-political commentary spiked with prickling wit. So remarkably distinct is his brand, there had evolved a new adjective to describe them -- "Quintosian."

Since 2013, five of his plays had been staged in UP under the direction of Dexter M. Santos, and I am happy to have watched all five of them. These were: "Collection" (MY REVIEW), "Ang Nawalang Kapatid" (MY REVIEW), "Ang Huling Lagda ni Apolinario Mabini" (MY REVIEW), "Angry Christ" (MY REVIEW) and now this new one, "The Kundiman Party." 

This play is set in our present time. Maestra Adela Dolores, a famous operatic diva from more than 30 years ago, has long retired from performing, and was now spending her time teaching her craft to students in her home. She kept a close circle of friends around her, namely the nurturing Helen, the liberated Mitch and the over-protective Mayen. The four ladies regularly met in Maestra's house where they listened to music and discussed politics.

One day, the ladies got together just when the Maestra was mentoring a budding young soprano named Antoinette. Things got more interesting when they met Antoinette's boyfriend Bobby, who was into anti-government political activism (causing him to be estranged from his father, the unpopular Senator Juancho Valderrama). Bobby had the idea of using Maestra's kundiman to revitalize nationalism in the youth via social media, giving rise to a viral online "Kundiman Party."

The script of Floy Quintos, again, does not disappoint in both its essence and its language. It had such current significance as it frankly discussed the present political turbulence and issues. It conveyed very powerful messages about music, culture pride, and nationalism. The sense of humor, mostly coming from the vibrant repartee of the "titas," was very entertaining in its cattiness and occasional vulgarity.

Quintos' choice of kundiman songs to be included in the show was so inspired. All were beautiful in both melody and lyrics, such as Nicanor Abelardo's "Bituing Marikit" or "Nasaan Ka Irog" or "Mutya ng Pasig". When Francisco Santiago's "Pilipinas Kong Mahal" was sung, tears welled in my eyes in its piercing poetic patriotic fervor. Two other kundiman songs by Santiago open and close the show, "Pakiusap" and "Madaling Araw."  Maestro Ryan Cayabyab provided additional kundiman arrangement for piano.

The classy set designed by Mitoy Sta. Ana

Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino exuded such a genuinely elegant aura of a diva as Maestra Adela Dolores, so completely believable in her regal sense of the dramatic. Her cluelessness with regards to gadgets and social media was delightfully depicted. Her delivery of lines was so rich in bombast and nuance at the same time. This was a magnetic performance that stood out in its own class of excellence.

Kalil Almonte had a conflicted role to play as Bobby. His was a critical character who presence turned the perfectly sheltered life of Maestra upside-down. He was unwaveringly headstrong and single-minded, which can be difficult to watch in scenes where his passionate stubbornness bordered on insensitivity and rudeness. His open-ended final fate makes him an enigma. This is a character the audience will likely discuss after the show. 

The three titas of the play all had distinct personalities we all recognize in our own titas. The veteran actresses in these roles all played off each other in a very natural and relaxed manner. Stella Canete-Mendoza played Helen, the motherly one, the gentle one, the caring one. Her breakdown scene was a highlight moment for her. Missy Maramara played Mitch, the carefree one, the sexy one, the brutally frank one. Her story about her viral Instagram post was hilarious. (Jenny Jamora alternates as Mitch.) Frances Makil-Ignacio played Mayen, the wary one, the suspicious one, the negative one. She had a character just like Mayen in the Virgin Labfest one-act play Adrian Ho's "Sincerity Bikers Club" last year. 

One very key role in this play is that of Antoinette because she is the one singing all the kundiman songs we hear. It is up to her to mesmerize us with her clarity of rendition and emotional connection of these vocally-challenging songs. Arya Herrera and Teetin Villenueva (whose angelic voice I already heard sing in "Collection" before) alternate in this role. On the matinee show I watched earlier today though, it was understudy Miah Canton playing Antoinette. To her credit, she nailed all her singing parts. She had us all listening to her every word she was singing. Acting-wise, she looked rather stiff and nervous at first, but she ultimately pulled through thanks to her supportive co-stars. 

Teroy Guzman only had one scene in the final act, but his stage presence as Senator Juancho Valderrama was so strong. His line delivery was crisp, authoritative, and quite persuasive -- so amazing to watch. Farley Asuncion played the piano beautifully on stage throughout the show as Maestra's faithful Ludwig. However, he also gets to sneak in some funny one-liners once in while. Rica Nepomuceno played it all-out comedy as the over-the-top professional singer Melissa, but she also gets to sing a grand kundiman with aplomb. (Melisa Camba alternates as Melissa.)

With this show, Dexter M. Santos directs his final play as Artistic Director of Dulaang UP, a post he held since 2015. Under his directorial vision, the play was staged in a very engaging manner that held the full-house audience in rapt attention throughout its nearly 3-hour running time (with 10 minute intermission), as we imbibed the music and the issues the show presented to us. 

Mitoy Sta. Ana deserved kudos for his set design of Maestra's elegant yet homey living room and staircase, as well as his costume choices of the cast (particularly those worn by the Maestra). Monino Duque was the main lighting designer, following up his comeback last year for "Angry Christ."  Steven Tansiongco is responsible for the video and graphics design which was essential to depict the social media aspect of the script. Krina Cayabyab served well as musical director to seamlessly integrate the kundiman into the narrative.

The cast and crew take their bows 
Front Row L-R: Guzman, Maramara, Canete-Mendoza, Centenera-Buencamino, 
Makil-Ignacio, Almonte, Canton and Jacob


The combination of classical Filipino music and current news events and politics in this play made for a thought-provoking piece of theater, as all other Floy Quintos works are known to be. There are scenes with lofty idealistic ideas about cultural nationalism being floated around, but there are also scenes of sobering realism to bring us back down to earth and keep our feet on it. 

Maestra Adela made several choices in her life where she put love of country above her personal career and comfort. All the other characters here all had to make their own big choices in their own lives as well as events in the play unfolded. Faced with the current divisive political landscape we live in today, the audience is also prodded by this show to also make our own big choices. It hopes we stand up and choose to do what is best -- for our culture and for our country. 


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"The Kundiman Party" opened last April 11, 2018 and will play up to April 29. For its final week next week, showtimes are at 7 pm Tuesdays to Saturdays, 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and 10 am on Sundays. Tickets are only at P500 each. Contact person is Camile Guevara 0917-8239531.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review of Rep's ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (2018): A Charming and Chilling Comedy

April 15, 2018




I had vague memories of watching the film version of "Arsenic and Old Lace" during one long haul plane ride a few years back. That 1944 film was directed by Frank Capra and starred Cary Grant in an oddball mix of murder and madness in an old house where two little old ladies lived. The film felt more theatrical than cinematic, never hiding its theater roots. Now I would get to watch the actual play as staged by Repertory Philippines as only they can deliver material such as this.

The elderly spinster sisters Abby and Martha Brewster lived in their ancestral home in Brooklyn with their nutty middle-aged nephew Teddy, who believed he was President Teddy Roosevelt. One night, their younger nephew Mortimer, who wrote theater reviews for the newspaper, came for a visit. He discovered a startling "charitable" activity of his aunts, which he frantically tried to cover up for. To complicate matters, another long-estranged nephew Jonathan, now a ruthless criminal, also decided to crash in that same night.

This play was written way back in 1939 by Joseph Kesserling. It was first staged on Broadway in 1941, playing more than a thousand shows until it closed in 1944. These old American plays are an automatic fit for Repertory Philippines. They simply do them so well like no other local theater company does. In fact, Rep had staged "Arsenic and Old Lace" two times before, in 1981 and 1988. 

This year, Jamie Wilson takes a stab at directing this latest incarnation. Dennis Lagdameo designed the house set, which was very much part of the action. Bonsai Cielo, who just won the Gawad Buhay for her elegant Victorian-age costumes for Rep's "In the Next Room", designed the 1940s garb required in this one. John Batalla and Jethro Joaquin, both Gawad Buhay awardees for Rep's "Agnes of God", team up again for lights and sound design respectively.

Joy Virata was an automatic choice for Abby Brewster. She again proves her subtle brand of comedy for which I had long admired her for in several Rep plays in the past. Jay Valencia-Glorioso matched Ms. Virata's sense of wit every step of the way. As a pair, they were quaintly cute and delightful, even if they do what they do to those poor lonely gentlemen guests. 

Nelsito Gomez was back in Rep playing someone much lighter than those two intense characters he played last year to critical acclaim. His disparaging lines as critical Mortimer Brewster about the theater were hilarious. Jeremy Domingo can really play these dimwitted characters like Teddy Brewster like it was second-nature for him to do so. He is so convincing in his delusions. Apollo "Sheikh" Abraham struck an sinister vibe the moment he set foot on stage as Jonathan Brewster. He did not really look like Karloff's iconic Frankenstein monster, but he sure was one scary-looking dude. 

Barbara Jance was perky and liberated as the pastor's daughter Elaine who was not going to let Mortimer get away from her that easily. Robbie Guevara had that diabolical plastic surgeon character of Dr. Einstein down pat and crazy. Steven Conde came in only in the last act as pesky police Officer O'Hara who annoyed people by telling the long-winded plot of the play he was writing. Gabe Mercado played two roles, that of Elaine's father the Rev. Dr. Harper, and later the police Lt. Rooney, both stern and very opinionated characters. 

The first act where the macabre premise of the play was being set up was rather slow, uneven, and may feel as stodgy and stuffy as those elderly characters on the stage. There were a lot of dated references to events current to the time the play was written, like the political and war climate or the quality of theater shows. The references to American personalities like Teddy Roosevelt (and his charge up San Juan Hill) or Boris Karloff may also prove head-scratching for many younger audiences. 

However after the intermission, the whole madcap mixed-up mayhem simmered steadily into an entertaining boil by the third act. By then, the audiences were already so at home with the eccentric Brewsters, their silly neighbors (especially the policemen!) and the whole absurd black yet comic situations they got themselves into such that the laughs came more freely and easily, up to the end. Being a old-fashioned black comedy may be hard to sell, but those who enjoy a little twisted humor in their theater plays will definitely enjoy this one. 

The cast take their bows at curtain call (L-R): 
Conde, Jayme, Abraham, Glorioso, Virata, Gomez, Domingo, Guevara, Mercado, Rosales



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"Arsenic and Old Lace" runs from April 6 - 29, 2018 at the Onstage Theater in Greenbelt 1, Makati. Show times are at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, with 3:30 pm matinees on Saturdays and Sundays. Ticket prices at P 1,500 for Orchestra Center (reserved) and P 1,200 for Orchestra Sides (free seating). 


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Recap, Videos and Winners List GAWAD BUHAY AWARDS for 2017: "Pag-uusig" and "Adarna" Lead Awardees!

April 13, 2018




The emcees of the night were Topper Fabregas and Meann Espinosa, both on their third time as emcees of this awards show. The two had comic chemistry throughout that buoyed up energy during the length of the show. They had recurrent funny digs at the Solaire and "The Lion King" from their opening spiel up to their closing. They had an orchestra of one, Rony Fortich at the piano. He had been tasked to time the acceptance speech and start playing music once the speech reached the one minute mark as a sign to wrap it up.


Emcees Meann Espinosa and Topper Fabregas

The opening number was based on Topper's frustration of not having been in a Gawad Buhay winning musical. So, there were a series of songs from various musical productions that have won over the years featuring Topper in various silly antics in many of them. These shows were: "Annie,""3 Stars and a Sun," "Grease," "Rak of Aegis", "Mabining Mandirigma," "Bluebird of Happiness," "Little Women," "Juan Tamad at ang Limang Milyong Boto," "Skin Deep," "Stageshow," "Priscilla Queen of the Desert", "Caredivas" and "La Cage Aux Folles".

Chris Millado and Celeste Legaspi present the awards to the two automatic winners of the night, each was the only nominee in their respective categories.


J-Mee Katanyag

Outstanding Original Libretto
J-Mee Katanyag, “Tagu-taguan, Nasaan ang Buwan?” (Peta)

Outstanding Play—Original or Translation/Adaptation
“Ang Pag-uusig” (TP)


Audie Gemora and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo

Local theater royalty Audie Gemora (in a plaid coat) and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo presented the technical awards. The stark simplicity that was "Agnes of God" swept all its nominations in these categories.

Outstanding Set Design
Joey Mendoza, “Agnes of God” (Rep)
Mio Infante, “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” (Rep)
Joey Mendoza, “Blackbird” (TNT)
Ohm David, “Ang Pag-uusig” (TP)
Salvador Bernal, “The Nutcracker” (BP)

Outstanding Sound Design
Jethro Joaquin, “Agnes of God” (Rep)
Jethro Joaquin, “Blackbird” (TNT)
Jaime Godinez and Rards Corpuz, “Newsies” (9WT)
Rards Corpus, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Full House/RWM)

Outstanding Lighting Design
John Batalla, “Agnes of God” (Rep)
Katsch Katoy, “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” (Rep)
Dennis Marasigan, “Ang Pag-uusig” (TP)
John Batalla, “Hair” (Rep)
Katsch Katoy, “The Nutcracker” (BP)

Outstanding Costume Design
Bonsai Cielo, “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” (Rep)
Eric Pineda, “Newsies” (9WT)
James Reyes, “Aurelio Sedisyoso” (TP)
Bonsai Cielo, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Full House/RWM)
Salvador Bernal, “The Nutcracker” (BP)



This was followed by a song number rendered by the ensemble of "Ang Buhay ni Galileo" led by Bodjie Pascua. This was the first of the three nominees for Best Original Musical Composition which would be performed tonight.

Meann and Topper came out in tights and were hilarious in their interpretative dancing routine. Actual ballet dancers came out to "show us how it should really be done."

Ballet dancer Joseph Phillips and actress Adriana Agcaoili presented the Modern Dance categories.


Romeo Peralta dedicated his award to his wife and three sons. 

Male Featured Performance in Modern Dance
Mark Sumaylo, “Ibong Adarna” (BM)
Rudolph Capongcol, “Ibong Adarna” (BM)
Romeo Peralta, “Ibong Adarna” (BM)
Elpidio Magat, “Ibong Adarna” (BM)


Sarah Alejandro

Female Featured Performance in Modern Dance
Abigail Oliveiro, “Ibong Adarna” (BM)
Katrene San Miguel, “Minamahal, Sinasamba”/from “A Gala Celebration” (BP)
Sarah Alejandro, “Amada”/from “The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances” (BP)

Male Lead Performance in Modern Dance
Rudy de Dios, “Ibong Adarna” (BM)
Anselmo Dictado, “Ibong Adarna” (BM)
Victor Maguad, “Moon”/from “A Gala Celebration” (BP)
Eugene Obille, “Ang Sultan”/from “The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances” (BP)
Ronelson Yadao, “Songs of the Wayfarer”/from “The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances” (BP)

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for Modern Dance
“Ibong Adarna” (BM)
“Visions of Fire”/from “A Gala Celebration” (BP)
“Ang Sultan”/from “The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances” (BP)
“Songs of a Wayfarer”/from “The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances” (BP)

This award was received by choreographer Gerardo Francisco, whom we will see more of winning in later categories.

Roeder Camanag and Leloi Arcete presented the Classical Dance categories.


Abigail Oliveiro had such a charming British accent when she gave her speech. 

Female Featured Performance in Classical Dance
Abigail Oliveiro, “Don Quixote” (BM)
Veronica Atienza, “La Bayadere” (PBT)
Stephanie Cabral, “The Nutcracker” (BP)


Denise Parungao shows off her better angle.

Female Lead Performance in Classical Dance
Denise Parungao, “Swan Lake” (BP)
Kim Abrogena, “La Bayadere” (Philippine Ballet Theatre/PBT)
Denise Parungao, “The Nutcracker” (BP)
Jemima Reyes, “The Nutcracker” (BP)
Katherine Barkman, “Swan Lake” (BM)

Male Lead Performance in Classical Dance
Victor Maguad, “Swan Lake” (BP)
Victor Maguad, “The Nutcracker” (BP)
Elpidio Magat, “Snow White” (BM)

Male Featured Performance in Classical Dance
Victor Maguad, “Grand Pas Classique”/from “A Gala Celebration” (BP)
Peter San Juan, “La Bayadere” (PBT)
Gerardo Francisco, “Swan Lake” (BM)
Victor Maguad, “The Nutcracker” (BP)

The awards for the male dancers took a long time to give out properly since Ms. Leloi made an error in the winner announcement (causing Topper to call her Faye Dunaway, LOL!). After going through all the fuss to correct the error, it turned out that San Juan was not present to receive his award.

Arman Ferrer sang one of his songs from "Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag," another nominee for outstanding musical composition.



Lisa Macuja
and Toots Tolentino present the remainder of the dance awards.


Outstanding Choreography for a Dance Production
Gerardo Francisco, “Ibong Adarna” (BM)
Eisa Jocson, “Your Highness” (Ballet Philippines/BP)
Bam Damian III, “Minamahal, Sinasamba”/from “A Gala Celebration” (BP)
Edna Vida, Alice Reyes and Adam Sage, “The Nutcracker” (BP)
Gener Caringal, “Ang Sultan”/from “The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances” (BP)


Multiple winner last night Gerardo Francisco

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for Classical Dance
“Don Quixote” (BM)
“Swan Lake” (BP)
“The Nutcracker” (BP)

Outstanding Classical Dance Production
“Don Quixote” (BM)
“Swan Lake” (BP)
“The Nutcracker” (BP)

Outstanding Modern Dance Production
“Ibong Adarna” (BM)
“A Gala Celebration” (BP)
“Your Highness” (BP)
“Ang Sultan”/from “The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances” (BP)
“Songs of a Wayfarer”/from “The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances” (BP)


Natatanging Gawad to Ms. Agnes Locsin



Final tableau of "Magkaugnay"

Tanghalang Pilipino's Nanding Josef and former Ballet Philippines principal dancer Cecile Sicangco present the Natatanging Gawad Buhay award to Agnes Locsin. We were shown live samples of her diverse artistry in choreography: the haunting "Arachnida" and the joyful "Magkaugnay". No speech was given, instead Ms. Locsin presented Nonie Buencamino doing a modern interpretative dance about a guy who loved taking selfies.



There was a short medley of tunes from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" by the ensemble led by Yanah Laurel and the four kids who played Jeremy and Jemima on the show, Albert Tilos, Noel Comia Jr., Isabelli Araneta-Elizalde and Zoe Alvaralde.

A most irrepressible (as usual) Jon Santos and Myke Salomon presented the next awards as their past characters Bernadette (from "Priscilla") and Faraj (from "Caredivas") respectively. All three winners were no shows last night.


Jon Santos and Myke Salomon, a.k.a. Bernadette and Faraj

.Female Featured Performance in a Musical
Shiela Valderrama-Martinez, “Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, The Musical” (GT)
Aicelle Santos, “Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, The Musical” (GT)
Upeng Galang-Fernandez, “A Game of Trolls” (Peta)
Joan Bugcat, “Tagu-taguan, Nasaan ang Buwan?” (Peta)
Maronne Cruz, “Hair” (Rep)

Aicelle had just left for the UK to join the touring production of "Miss Saigon" as Gigi.

Male Featured Performance in a Musical
Jef Flores, “Newsies” (9WT)
Baron Geisler, “Aurelio Sedisyoso” (TP)
Floyd Tena, “Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, The Musical” (GT)
Roi Calilong, “Tagu-taguan, Nasaan ang Buwan?” (Peta)
Reb Atadero, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Full House/RWM)

Geisler's award was received by his director Chris Millado, who cited how the theater could be a tool for rehabilitation of lives. 

Male Lead Performance in a Musical
Gian Magdangal, “Newsies” (9WT)
Arman Ferrer, “Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, The Musical” (GT)
David Ezra, “Aurelio Sedisyoso” (TP)
Markki Stroem, “Hair” (Rep)
George Schulze, “Hair” (Rep)

Karla Gutierrez and Rem Zamora presented the much-anticipated acting awards for plays. These are very tightly contested categories. All the winners were in attendance last night.



Rebecca Coates

Female Featured Performance in a Play
Rebecca Coates, “Agnes of God” (Rep)
Caisa Borromeo, “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” (Rep)
Tami Monsod, “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” (Rep)
Antonette Go, “Ang Pag-uusig” (TP)
Lhorvie Nuevo, “Ang Pag-uusig” (TP)


Marco Viana thanked his mother for defending him 
when others question his decision to be an actor over being an engineer.

Male Featured Performance in a Play
Marco ViaƱa, “Ang Pag-uusig” (TP)
Jonathan Tadioan, “Ang Pag-uusig” (TP)
Joshua Tayco, “Ang Pag-uusig” (TP)
Bodjie Pascua, “Ang Buhay ni Galileo” (Peta)
Noel Comia Jr., “Ang Buhay ni Galileo” (Peta)


Roselyn Perez


Female Lead Performance in a Play
Roselyn Perez, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” (Rep)
Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, “Agnes of God” (Rep)
Giannina Ocampo, “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” (Rep)
Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante, “Blackbird” (TNT)
Blanche Buhia, “Lukot-lukot, Bilog-bilog” (TP)


Joshua Spafford

JV Ibesate

Male Lead Performance in a Play
Michael Williams, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” (Rep)
Joshua Spafford, “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” (Rep)
JV Ibesate, “Ang Pag-uusig” (TP)
Bart Guingona, “Blackbird” (TNT)
Joel Lamangan, “Ang Buhay ni Galileo” (Peta)

A tie! The two winners showed contrasting reactions to their wins. Spafford was so cool and collected, while Ibesate was emotional and tearful.


The winning ensemble of "Ang Pag-uusig"

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Play
“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” (Rep)
“Agnes of God” (Rep)
“In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” (Rep)
“Ang Pag-uusig” (TP)
“Ang Buhay ni Galileo” (Peta)

Topper and Meann called Tads back out onstage and ribbed him for having lost his 7th straight acting nomination, saying how Baron Geisler edged him already by winning on his very first play and nomination. Tads was a great sport about it.

A short dance excerpt from "Ibong Adarna" followed, the scene depicting the fight between the three brothers, when the two elder brothers betrayed their youngest.


Natatanging Gawad to Ms. CB Garrucho

Nanding Josef and Maribel Legarda presented the night's second Natatanging Gawad award to Ms. CB Garrucho of PETA. There was a short video clip of her eloquent speech which she gave last year, when PETA was given a Ramon Magsaysay award. Ms. CB came up the stage while being serenaded by PETA talents with the wedding song from one of her past shows, "Canuplin" (1980).



An energetic tap dance number excerpt from "Newsies" followed performed by its all-male (+ one lady) ensemble led by Jef Flores, to the delight of the audience. 


Vince De Jesus and Rony Fortich presented the Music awards.


Vince de Jesus and Rony Fortich

Outstanding Musical Direction
Daniel Bartolome, “Newsies” (9 Works Theatrical/9WT)
Diwa de Leon, “Ibong Adarna” (Ballet Manila/BM)
Ejay Yatco, “Hair” (Rep)
Rodel Colmenar, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Full House/RWM)

Yatco could not receive his award in person because he was at work on the final re-staging of "Sa Wakas" last night.

Outstanding Original Musical Composition
Von de Guzman, “Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, The Musical” (Gantimpala Theater/GT)
Diwa de Leon, “Ibong Adarna” (BM)
Peta Music Pool (under Lutgardo Labad), “Ang Buhay ni Galileo” (Peta)

This was Mr. de Leon's final work with Ballet Manila before he immigrated to the US. 

The In Memoriam segment was an instrumental piece played on piano and cello. The introduction was given by Joy Virata. The list of dearly departed talents this year included Bernardo Bernardo, Soxie Topacio, Mario O' Hara, Spanky Manikan and Richard Cunanan.

Jaime del Mundo and Roselyn Perez presented what could be the most exciting awards of the evening.


Dennis Marasigan

Outstanding Stage Direction for a Play
Bart Guingona, “Agnes of God” (Rep)
Chris Millado, “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” (Rep)
Dennis Marasigan, “Ang Pag-uusig” (TP)
Topper Fabregas, “Blackbird” (TNT)
Rody Vera, “Ang Buhay ni Galileo” (Peta)


Jerry Respeto

Outstanding Translation or Adaptation
Guelan Luarca, “Eurydice” (TP)
Jerry Respeto, “Ang Pag-uusig” (Tanghalang Pilipino/TP)
Alan Glinoga, “Ang Buhay ni Galileo” (Peta)


This award was received by Joy Virata, and the three actresses who were made up the ensemble of this play: Pinky Amador, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and Rebecca Coates.


Outstanding Production of Existing Material for a Play
“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” (Rep)
“Agnes of God” (Rep)
“In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” (Rep)
“Blackbird” (TNT)
“Ang Buhay ni Galileo” (Peta)

Michael Williams and Dennis Marasigan present the final awards of the evening. And this would prove to be a sweep  of four categories by a single production.

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Musical
“Newsies” (9WT)
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Full House/RWM)


PJ Rebullida

Outstanding Choreography for a Play or Musical
PJ Rebullida, “Newsies” (9WT)
Nancy Crowe, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Full House/RWM)


Robie Guevara

Outstanding Stage Direction for a Musical
Robbie Guevara, “Newsies” (9WT)
Jaime del Mundo, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Full House/RWM)


 Joe Calida representing Globe Live,
who also sponsored the productions of tonight's awards show.


Outstanding Production of Existing Material for a Musical
“Newsies” (9WT)
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Full House/RWM)

No nominations, and consequently, no awards were given for: Outstanding Musical—Original or Translation/Adaptation, Outstanding Production for Children, Outstanding Original Script, Female Lead Performance in Modern Dance and, most unusually, Female Lead Performance in a Musical.

The show closed with a song specially composed for the occasion by Vincent de Jesus as performed by singers from his shows "Himala" and "Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady".