Tag Archives: Theater

SHOW OFF Broadway Open Mic: Show Us What You’ve Got!

Sixteen Bars, in partnership with DITO: Bahay ng Sining, presents SHOW OFF Broadway Open Mic: Songs and Scenes. Enjoy a night of songs and scenes from Broadway musicals. Take the stage. Simply bring your music sheet and hand it to our pianist and sing your heart out. We had it at the reprise, we’ll reprise it again.Broadway Open Mic x Reverb Manila

There will be games throughout the program so be ready to take home prizes. Let’s make it bigger. This SHOW OFF, the mic is now open to Monologues and scenes! Register a slot for a scene and take your moment on the stage!

Want to get that standing ovation? Feel free to dress up for the part! what can possibly be more fun than pulling an all out for your dream role? There’s more. DITO’s menu is now inspired by Broadway! Come to the open mic to taste some of your favorite musicals!

Join Sixteen Bars on July 25, 2015 (Saturday), from 7:00 -11:00 p.m. at DITO: Bahay ng Sining located at J. Molina Street, 1807, Marikina City. Your Php 150.00 comes with a free drink and a slot for a song or scene. Registration starts at 6 P.M.

Some photos from the debut Broadway Open Mic last April 25:


The Normal Heart Manila Exposes the Elephant in the Room

Last Saturday, the Philippines was one with the world as it celebrated Pride Month through the Pride March. It’s been 21 years since our community has recognized the need to fight for love, equality, and freedom. The historical 21st Pride in Luneta gathered about 2,000 people. The Philippines also celebrated along with the US’ triumph over having same-sex marriage legalized in all 50 states.

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Whatever successes or endeavors – no matter how little or grand – our countries have achieved altogether are proof of how far we have come and how farther we are willing to go. Yet the gap remains – some void that keeps us from understanding the basics of RESPECT. Marginalized members of the society remain pressured by the dictates of society, reducing them to confused individuals who are forced to become someone they’re not.

Haters troll across all forms of media. Every day, others have to live their lives being named faggot, immoral, etc. Some do not know how impactful words can be, most especially when aimed mindlessly at those who are already finding it difficult to be themselves. Our society finds it so daunting a task to openly talk about.

Sadly, there are people who think being gay is a disease. Let’s make the conversation even more uncomfortable by exposing the other elephant in the room. Let’s talk about HIV/AIDS.

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From January 1984 to April 2015: 24,936 HIV cases have been reported.

According World Health Organization (WHO), the HIV/AIDS statistics in the Philippines has significantly augmented from 1 (2008) to 22 (2015) newly diagnosed HIV cases per day in a span of just 7 years. The rise in HIV cases is now the fastest in Asia and among the fastest worldwide.

At the rate it’s going, the numbers could only increase in the next few years. But more than the rise in statistics, how much does our country know about this disease? Aren’t these numbers enough to scare the hell out us, of our government?

Actors’ Actor, Inc. and The Necessary Theatre as they boldly present The Normal Heart for the very first time in the Philippine shores. Dubbed as The Normal Heart Manila, I’m certain it’s bound to make waves.

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The death scene.

The Normal Heart is a critically acclaimed masterpiece of playwright and activist Larry Kramer, who initially wrote this as a result of his frustration over New York City’s indifference to the rise of a then unknown disease that was ravaging gay men in the 1980s. A straight play that is mainly autobiographical in nature, the plot takes us to New York City at a time HIV/AIDS was still a disease many ignorantly dismissed as “gay disease.”

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Bart Guingona as Ned Weeks and Topper Fabregas as Felix Turner.

The first minute into the story is highly contagious. So be warned. Kramer brilliantly engineered it to bring you to the edge of your seat. The Normal Heart revolves around an angry Jewish-American writer, gay activist, and loudmouth Ned Weeks (played by Bart Guingona, also the director) who – through the expertise of polio-stricken Dr. Emma Brookner (played Roselyn Perez) – learns about the outbreak and decides to form a crisis organization in an effort to stop the spread of the mysterious disease.

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Brotherly love. Ben (Richard Cunanan) and Ned (Guingona).

His lawyer brother Ben Weeks (played by Richard Cunanan) passively supports his brother’s advocacy but later on argues with him due to his unwillingness to understand. The story unfolds as Ned crosses paths with New York Times writer Felix Turner (Topper Fabregas). The two will fall in love.

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The conflict arises.

He also forms a volunteer organization with Bruce Niles (TJ Trinidad), Tommy Boatwright (Red Concepcion), Mickey Marcus (Nor Domingo), and Craig Donner [also Hiram Keebler and Grady] (Jef Flores) on board. But years would pass and more deaths plague the community; the illness was already spreading like wildfire, and their much-awaited meeting with Mayor Ed Koch has not seen the light of day…

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Ned comforting the dying Felix.

The piece to this day bleeds with so much insight that yearns to be heard and understood. The Normal Heart is unafraid to expose the ironies of reality, and it needed only eight cast members to get the message across effectively. Whatever the simple setup offered, the cast made up for it. But a material as rich as this did not need a grand stage in the first place.

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Nor Domingo as Mickey and Red Concepcion as Tommy.

Each of the characters was relatable and real. The major conflict areas were tucked in between the different relationships Ned had with the characters, which also means a tough acting challenge awaits Guingona. He takes on an energetic role of a gay activist and writer, brother, a lover, a leader, and a 24/7 loudmouth.

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Puzzled Ben.

Accept me as your healthy equal, your brother.

His relationship with his brother Ben, whom Cunanan played so effortlessly, revealed a brother’s refusal to accept Ned for who he is, thereby hindering him from understanding how strongly Ned feels about his advocacy. While Ben expresses some support in the beginning, t would later on be clearer that he is a homophobe himself.

His relationship, however, with the members of the volunteer crisis organization is more of antagonistic. Known as the bad cop of the organization, his tactless approach, though pure and thought-provoking, is greatly misunderstood, and the rest of the group seem to feel he oftentimes presses the wrong buttons.

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Good cop | bad cop.

Bruce Niles (TV actor TJ Trinidad) is the exact opposite of Ned Weeks. A closeted gay, his leadership decisions lack the conviction it needs to get the advocacy across. He continues to live in fear of prejudice and rejection. Tommy Boatwright, and Mickey Marcus had their fair share of unforgettable moments, too, as they struggled dealing with the always clashing Ned and Bruce. Also noteworthy is Jef Flores as he takes on three roles. Their intense arguments reveal how they confront the issue, given their different personalities and attitude.

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Roselyn Perez as Dr. Emma Brookner.

Ned’s relationship Dr. Emma Brookner was intellectual in nature. Both knew something had to be done. And they took it upon themselves to go beyond their call of duty. Perez as Brookner was instantly a favorite character of mine. Despite her physical limitations due to her disability, she ironically stands for what she believes in and speaks against the US government for their refusing to allocate resources for research on the disease.

But wait, there’s also an element of romance amidst the heavily infused plot. Topper Fabregas gives life to Ned Weeks’ lover Felix Turner, who works for the New York Times. They have cheesy moments and they would go on to share their dreams and plans. Ned and Felix’s banters were Kramer’s clever depiction of gays at that time.

Again, these rosy scenes wouldn’t last for long. As Felix falls ill, we witness the deterioration of his body, and the crumbling of his very spirit. Several noteworthy scenes between the two broke my heart. Especially when Felix shows how much he loves Ned ’til the very end. The ending was painful to watch.

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The pain was too sharp, and too deeply felt. And the insights were hard-hitting and that Kramer’s world in 1980s is very much real elsewhere in the world. History has repeated itself. Fast track to 2015, and this is still very much the reality in the Philippines.

Instant takeaways? Unsettled differences in attitude greatly impacts the accomplishment of a shared goal, no matter how noble it may be. Oftentimes, friends and families find it so difficult to understand and accept you. Sadly, even the more experienced, passionate doctors are not given the opportunity to put their expertise to use because of the lack of funding for research. Lastly, people have no access to the healthcare that they need.

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I do.

We don’t need to wait for another Ned Weeks to effect such change. If the story reveals a failure of a worthy cause, may this autobiographical account emphasize history is a lesson. The material gives it to you raw, with the intent to pierce your heart and soul. There’s a Ned Weeks in each and everyone of us, struggling to be heard every day. We cannot continue being indifferent about HIV/AIDS, about anything that concerns whether individually or collectively.

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Felix withering away.

Awareness is the first crucial step to achieving the understanding and acceptance that we so yearn for. While judgement, fear and abound, while there are dying AIDS victims who amid their dire, desperate situation cannot even convince the government to intensify efforts to combat the disease.

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TJ Trinidad and Jef Flores.

This material deserves to be seen. But it will only run five shows. I hope they extend it so it reaches out to bigger audiences.

Because at the end of the day, our brothers and sisters who have fallen ill to this disease deserve to be understood and accepted. They deserve to be heard. They deserve to be healed. Above all, they deserve to be loved.

It’s a war where love wins.

Don’t miss its limited runs from July 3-5, 2015 (Friday, 8 P.M. | Saturday & Sunday, 3:30 P.M. And 8 P.M.) at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, 4th Floor, RCBC Plaza, Makati, Philippines. Tickets are available via Ticketworld: http://www.ticketworld.com.ph.

Acknowledging the production team: Coco Anne and Baby Imperial (set design), Don Taduran, Mark Philipp Espina (video projections), Jethro Joaquin (sound design), Meliton Roxas (lighting design), and Dodo Lim (producer).

Best Philippine Theater Productions Gather for the 7th Gawad Buhay Awards

The recently concluded 7th PHILSTAGE (Philippine Legitimate Stage Artists Group) Awards for the Performing Arts or the Gawad Buhay Awards Night went from poignant to hilarious. From meaty punchlines and long, emotional acceptance speeches to graceful dance numbers and two bigwigs who have shaped Philippine theater, that night was of most importance for the theater community because, similar to the Tonys in the US, the Gawad Buhay is an annual event that gathers and recognizes the Philippines’ best theatrical performances throughout the season.

Let this entry walk you through the highlights of the 7th Gawad Buhay:

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Topper Fabregas of Red Turnip Theater gives life to the 7th Gawad Buhay Awards Night as the host. Fabregas, who would later go on and on with his inside jokes, summoned powerhouse actors Joaquin Valdez, Kim Molina, and Red Concepcion to join him on stage.
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What followed was an intense attempt to outshine one another in an all-out vocal showcase.
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Red Concepcion representing Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Full House)
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Nikki Gil and Steven Silva (9Works Theatrical) were the first pair of presenters.

Female Featured Performance in Classical Dance
Celina Dofitas, “Cinderella” (BP)
Edana Mae Labitoria, “Cinderella” (BP)
Rita Winder, “Cinderella” (BP)

Male Lead Performance in Classical Dance
Richardson Yadao, “Cinderella” (BP)
EARL JOHN ARISOLA, “Cinderella” (BP)

Female Lead Performance in Classical Dance
DENISE PARUNGAO, “Cinderella” (BP)
Monica Gana, “Cinderella” (BP)
Dawna Mangahas, “Nutkraker” (BM)

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PHILSTAGE welcomes its newest member: The Philippine Ballet Theater
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Philstage welcomes its newest member: The Philippine Ballet Theater
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Is it possible that Topper is the new Tolits?
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Margie Moran-Floriendo, President of Ballet Philippines, is the next presenter.
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Liza Magtoto receives the award for Outstanding Original Libretto (Rak of Aegis, PETA). She dedicates the award to her dad who she describes as her “Original Tolits.”
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Tanghalang Pilipino

Outstanding Translation or Adaptation
Virgilio Almario and José Lacaba, “Mga Ama, Mga Anak” (TP)
ROLANDO TINIO, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)

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Topper changes into Ebenezer Scrooge and jokes about how the costume hasn’t probably been washed since the show.

Female Featured Performance in a Play

Pinky Amador, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
LIESL BATUCAN, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
Sheila Francisco, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
TAMI MONSOD, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
Madeleine Nicolas, “Mga Ama, Mga Anak” (TP)

Male Featured Performance in a Play
Richard Cunanan, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
Hans Eckstein, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
YUL SERVO, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)
Dido dela Paz, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)
Marco Viaña, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)

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Bituin Escalante is 2014’s Outstanding Female Featured Performance in a Musical.

Female Featured Performance in a Musical
BITUIN ESCALANTE, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Full House)
Kalila Aguilos, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
Antoinette Taus, “Grease” (9WT)

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Pepe Herrera who stars as Tolits in Rak of Aegis dedicates his award to his mother, who once told him to follow his heart.

Male Featured Performance in a Musical
PEPE HERRERA, “Rak of Aegis” (PETA)
Jerald Napoles, “Rak of Aegis” (PETA)
Myke Salomon, “Rak of Aegis” (PETA)
Juliene Mendoza, “Rak of Aegis” (PETA)
Micko Laurente, “Kleptomaniacs” (TP)

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A scene from “Sinta” by Dulaang Sibol
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Onofre Pagsanghan receives the first of two Natatanging Gawad Buhay awards for his brainchild Dulaang Sibol. Photo shows Pagsi embracing Paul Dumol.
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Onofre ‘Pagsi’ Pagsanghan
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Tanghalang Pilipino‘s Kleptomaniacs, with Nicco Manalo and the group.
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Fabregas came out in what seemed like a loin cloth, from the nominated costume collection from the Ballet Philippines’ La Revolucion Filipina.
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Carissa Adea of Ballet Philippines

Female Lead Performance in Modern Dance
Dawna Mangahas, “Shutter” from “Heart2Heart: Ballet & Ballads” (BM)
Monica Gana, “Duet” from “Art of Dance” (BP)
Kris-Belle Paclibar-Mamangun, “Salome” from “The Blue Moon Series” (BP)
CARISSA ADEA, “Songs of the Wayfarer” from “The Blue Moon Series” (BP)
Jessa Balote, “Sari’t Bahag” from “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika: An OPM Festival” (BM)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (40)
Richardson Yadao, Ballet Philippines

Male Lead Performance in Modern Dance
Elpidio Magat, “Shutter” from “Heart2Heart: Ballet & Ballads” (BM)
Earl John Arisola, “Duet” from “Art of Dance” (BP)
Rudy de Dios, “Aramica” from “Heart2Heart: Ballet & Ballads” (BM)
Jean Marc Cordero, “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)
RICHARDSON YADAO, “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)

Outstanding Choreography for a Dance Production
BAM DAMIAN, “Aramica” from “Heart2Heart: Ballet & Ballads” (BM)
Denisa Reyes, “Muybridge Frames” from “Art of Dance” (BP)
Bam Damian, “After Whom” from “The Blue Moon Series” (BP)
Alice Reyes, “Bungkos Suite” from “The Blue Moon Series” (BP)
Agnes Locsin, “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)

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The cast of Gantimpala Theater Foundation‘s Kanser@35: The Musical features members of Viva Voce.
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The cast of Gantimpala Theater Foundation’s Kanser@35: The Musical features members of Viva Voce.
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The cast of Gantimpala Theater Foundation’s Kanser@35: The Musical features members of Viva Voce.

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Topper in Full Gallop! The production’s costumes were designed by Rajo Laurel.
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Philippine Opera Company’s Karla Gutierrez belts out You’ll Never Walk Alone as accompaniment to the “In Memoriam” segment.
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The PR gurus of Theater: Toots Tolentino and Leloi Arcete.
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Winning Outstanding Sound Design are PETA’s Happy Constantino and Myke Salomon

Outstanding Sound Design
Jethro Joaquin, “Noises Off” (Rep)
Jethro Joaquin, “Wait Until Dark” (Rep)
Bart Guingona, “Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)
Ryan Cayabyab (remastered by David Theo), “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)

Outstanding Lighting Design
John Batalla, “Wait Until Dark” (Rep)
Katsch Catoy, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
Martin Esteva, “The Last 5 Years” (9WT)
Bart Guingona, “Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)
KATSCH CATOY, “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)

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Ballet Philippines perform a dance excerpt from “After Whom.”
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Topper’s next costume represents Full House’s Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!
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Presenters Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and partner Robie Zialcita.
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Red Concepcion probably had the most costume change that night. Apart from winning Male Lead Performance in a Musical, he also appears in excerpts from Priscilla Queen of the Desert and, in this photo, alongside Team Kayumanggilas in Kung Paano Ka Naging Leading Lady!

Male Lead Performance in a Musical
RED CONCEPCION, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Full House)
Joaquin Valdes, “The Last 5 Years” (9WT)
Nicco Manalo, “Kleptomaniacs” (TP)
Michael Williams, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Full House)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (16)
Kim Molina wins Outstanding Female Lead Performance in a Musical!

Female Lead Performance in a Musical
Aicelle Santos, “Rak of Aegis” (PETA)
Joan Bugcat, “Rak of Aegis” (PETA)
KIM MOLINA, “Rak of Aegis” (PETA)
Nikki Gil, “The Last 5 Years” (9WT)
Tippy Dos Santos, “Grease” (9WT)

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Director Maribel Legarda for PETA.

Outstanding Stage Direction for a Musical
Jaime del Mundo, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Full House)
Robbie Guevara, “The Last 5 Years” (9WT)

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Mio Infante, the man behind the infamous flooded set of Villa Venizia.

Outstanding Set Design

MIO INFANTE, “Rak of Aegis” (PETA)
Miguel Faustmann, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
Miguel Faustmann, “Noises Off” (Rep)
Mio Infante, “The Last 5 Years” (9WT)
Mio Infante, “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)

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Carlo Pagunaling (PETA)

Outstanding Costume Design
Edgar San Diego, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (PETA)
Rajo Laurel, “Full Gallop” (My Own Mann Productions/AAI and The Necessary Theatre)
Victor Ursabia, “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)
Valeen Vicente, “Scrooge” (Rep)

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Fuersa Filipinas and Team Kayumanggilas showcase an exciting, must-see excerpt from Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady
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Teatrong Mulat in a puppetry number.
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Second Natatanging Gawad Buhay recipient was founder of Teatro Mulat, Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio. Joined by her former students Bibeth Orteza and Dennis Marasigan.
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Joaquin Valdes and Nikki Gil deliver a moving excerpt from The Last Five Years.

Outstanding Stage Direction for a Play
CHRIS MILLADO, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
Miguel Faustmann, “Wait Until Dark” (Rep)
Bart Guingona, “Full Gallop” (My Own Mann/AAI)
Chris Millado, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)
Bart Guingona, “Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)

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Gio Gahol (PETA) wins Outstanding Choreography for a Play or Musical.

Outstanding Choreography for a Play or Musical
Nancy Crowe, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Full House)
Gio Gahol, “Rak of Aegis” (PETA)
Nestee Mamaril Gamilla, “Kleptomaniacs” (TP)

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Myke Salomon receives another win for PETA.

Outstanding Musical Direction
MYKE SALOMON, “Rak of Aegis” (PETA)
Inday Echevarria, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Full House)
Joseph Tolentino, “The Last Five Years” (9WT)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (63)
Jon Santos, Michael Williams and Red Concepcion sing “True Colors.”

Jon Santos, Michael Williams and Red Concepcion sing Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.”

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Sandino Martin, Regina de Vera, and Bart Guingona
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Representing Cherie Gil, who won Outstanding Female Lead Performance in a Play

Female Lead Performance in a Play
Baby Barredo, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
CHERIE GIL, “Full Gallop”
Liesl Batucan, “Wait Until Dark” (Rep)
Jennifer Blair-Bianco, “Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)
Gina Pareño, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)

Male Lead Performance in a Play
Spanky Manikan, “Mga Ama, Mga Anak” (TP)
ROBERT AREVALO, “Mga Ama, Mga Anak” (TP)
Jonathan Tadioan, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)
David Bianco, “Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (3)
Champions Kim Molina and Pepe Herrera sing Mahal na Mahal Kita.
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Aicelle Santos and Jerald Napoles
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Kalila Aguilos of Rak of Aegis.
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Lorenz Martinez of Rak of Aegis.

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Antoinette Taus and Guji Lorenzana

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for Modern Dance

“ARAMICA” from “Heart2Heart: Ballet & Ballads” (BM)
“Muybridge Frames” from “Art of Dance” (BP)
“After Whom” from “The Blue Moon Series” (BP)
“Bungkos Suite” from “The Blue Moon Series” (BP)
“La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (8)
The ensemble of August Osage County, composed of Pinky Amador, Sheila Francisco, Richard Cunanan, director Chris Millado, Tami Monsod.

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Play
“Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)
“Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)

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The winning ensemble of RAK OF AEGIS jumps for joy!

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Musical
“The Last 5 Years” (9WT)

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Chris Millado and Audie Gemora thank the audience.
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Bibeth Orteza, Rafa Siguion Reyna and…
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Jon Santos as Armida Siguion-Reyna

Outstanding Modern Dance Production
“Aramica” from “Heart2Heart: Ballet & Ballads” (BM)
“Muybridge Frames” from “Art of Dance” (BP)

Outstanding Production of Existing Material for a Play
“Full Gallop” (My Own Mann/AAI)
“Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)
“Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (63)

Outstanding Production of Existing Material for a Musical
“The Last 5 Years” (9WT)

Outstanding Original Musical

Congratulations to all the winners! ‘Til the next Gawad Buhay!

Philstage is an organization of professional performing arts companies in the Philippines, namely: Ballet Manila, Ballet Philippines, Gantimpala Theater Foundation, Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit, PETA, Repertory Philippines, Tanghalang Pilipino, Trumpets, Actor’s Actors, 9 Works Theatrical and Philippine Opera Company. New among the roster of members are: Resorts World Manila’s Full House Theater Productions, Red Turnip Theater, and Philippine Ballet Theater.

Ten Reasons Why ‘Sabel, Love and Passion’ is Not Your Average Musical

Sabel-ReverbManila-(6) Sabel, Love and Passion: A Musical Production is an original Filipino musical inspired by the life of National Artist for Visual Arts Benedicto ‘BenCab’ Cabrera‘s long-time muse, the crazy dancing lady named Sabel. Throughout his artistry, BenCab created numerous variations of Sabel. And the thought of a Sabel variation as a musical constantly challenged BBC journalist, art collector, BenCab’s friend, and brainchild of this project Rico Hizon since 2003.


Hizon, who graced the audience with a short introduction prior to the much-awaited showcase, candidly shared that everything started over a decade ago, when they saw in a coffee-table book a feature on dancers interpreting Sabel at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Sabel, a musical, he asked himself. He then turned to musical director and composer Louie Ocampo, who then went to Director Freddie Santos. The challenge was, indeed, accepted. However, amidst several talks of a production, the musical had not seen light until April of this year. Finally, last Thursday (April 30), thanks to the collaborative work pursued by Ocampo and Santos, and everyone behind BenCab’s 50 Creative Years, a sea of guests flocked to the Theater at Solaire to witness the successful World Premier Gala of Sabel, albeit the heavy traffic caused by the coinciding concert that evening.

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So this just happened.. ❤️ #Sabel #BenCab

A post shared by Iza Calzado (@missizacalzado) on

Reverb Manila first found out about the production when Ms. Iza Calzado started posting tidbits about Sabel via her Instagram account over a month ago. And although only a few articles surfaced in the weeks that followed, we had to rely on the cast members to spoil us with updates regarding the progress via social media.

We knew instantly that Sabel, Love and Passion: A Musical Production was relevant.

For those who missed out, Reverb Manila gives you ten reasons why Sabel is not your average musical production.

10 | In a world where even visual art has gone digital, it’s quite hard to find avenues that strike a balance between modern and traditional visual art forms. However, the production had allowed its viewers to experience the best of both worlds, in fact even marrying other art forms imaginable – song, ballet, poem – which all came together as one grand production that is Sabel.


The stage employed a rather minimalist design, consisting of asymmetrical canvasses that were assembled to frame and add dimension to the stage. It was beautiful enough being simple. But wait until it drastically transforms through the help of strong imageries projected via LCDs, transporting us to different eras, unraveling the deepest emotions in the story. There was even a scene where the paintings projected on the panel would follow the young character Miguelin‘s hand as he painted on the canvass. It was refreshing to have witnessed such visual effects.

9 | It’s the only time you get to see all of BenCab’s works since most, if not all, of them now belong to somebody else.

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Lo and behold! The stage drastically transforms into a BenCab masterpiece. From simple asymmetrical shaped panels, these instantly turn into a collection that depicts the national artist’s numerous interpretations of Sabel.

8 | Iza Calzado makes a grand theater debut. In her Instagram account, Calzado said: “I am over the moon with joy because I’m finally doing my first theater/stage production! Though it is not exactly a straight play I think it’s a great start to doing stage work. Yes, I am still nervous but I hope my angels guide me so I can give a heartfelt performance on Thursday. Here with me in the photo is Bianca Trocino from the Philippine Ballet Theatre dancing as Sabel. She is amazing on stage. And so are Antoinette Taus and Aicelle Santos who will be the voice(s) of Sabel. Brilliant Women! Together I hope we get to bring Sabel to life! See you at Solaire at 8pm on Thursday.”

Iza Calzado clad in a flowy cape by Rajo Laurel.

She’s a mainstream success as a TV/Film actress, but the beautiful Calzado was such a delight even onstage. She delivered deeply moving narrations that made us shed a few tears here and then, and we’re pretty sure the audience, too, felt her joy, her pain, her longing through every word and movement. Iza’s angels had, indeed, guided her well throughout the night.

7 | The Power of Dance. It’s one of those few musicals that put the spotlight on dancers. 

The Philippine Ballet Theatre as amazon warriors during war.

We seldom get to see a musical that gives an amazing amount of credit to dancing since productions tend to focus more on the singing aspect to judge if a musical is good over all. It was great to see these ballet dancers dominate the stage. They were composed of very young and talented individuals who are part of the Philippine Ballet Theatre, by the way. They stood out on their own, without being overshadowed by the stellar voices behind each of the main characters.

Audie Gemora sings Look at Her for the first time.

6 | You’ve got a Triple A powering all-original compositions plus two balladeers to complete an outstanding vocal showcase.

Former child star Antoinette Taus lends her voice to the Young Sabel.

TRIPLE A. Theater veteran and Audie Gemora, Former child star Antoinette Taus, and Rak of Aegis’ Aicelle Santos exceeded expectations in their moving solo performances of Look at Her, In Love, and Smoke and Mirrors.  Balladeers theater veteran Bo Cerrudo and The Voice of the Philippines Season 1 contestant Timmy Pavino excellently lent their voices to the characters of Luis and Miguelin respectively, alongside Philippine Ballet Theatre’s Ian Ocampo and Matthew Davo.

The promising Timmy Pavino and Matthew Davo as Miguelin.

5 | Put two bigwigs in the live performance industry Mr. Freddie Santos and Mr. Louie Ocampo together as director and musical director and you get a production that’s no less than world-class.

Standing ovation. The cast with the Direk Freddie Santos, Musical Director Louie Ocampo, and BenCab.

Kudos to a masterfully written narrative poetry by Direk Freddie Santos and musical direction by lyricist and composer Mr. Louie Ocampo.

4 | The storyline screams Pinoy. It’s pretty simple yet it works.

Miguel and Consolacion

The plot is simple and realistic for anyone to understand and relate with. The audience didn’t need to rack their brains to understand what the story was about. The story has a certain teleserye twist to it. It would reveal how the motherless protagonist would lose her father in his sickness, fall in love and get her heart broken by a man who abandoned her. Her misfortune drives her mad, causing her to abandon her son. It would then take years for them to find each other. Oftentimes a family memento would help, which in this case, was in the form of a necklace. See, these elements make the material unmistakably and genuinely Pinoy. The values demonstrated by these characters are very much reflective of the Filipino culture, with emphasis on often abstracted concepts, such as: family, love, hope, and resilience.

3 | So we just mentioned that the story was simple; and yet, Sabel had to be portrayed by five characters.

It’s now all Smoke and Mirrors. Philippine Ballet Theatre’s Bianca Trocino and Rak of AegisAicelle Santos offered a harrowing performance of Sabel gradually losing her mind.

The material somewhat reminds you of Katy the Musical. If you would recall, Katy’s character was divided into three in order to define a particular stage in the character’s life. The intricate dimensions of Sabel’s character inevitably required that she be played by not just three but five characters (as narrating, dancing, and singing Sabels) to walk the audience through Sabel’s colorful journey from being a motherless child, losing her father, falling victim to war, to falling madly in love, and becoming a mother.

2 | The songs used in the production have the makings of a classic. The lyrics to each song was poetically written yet easily understandable. The songs had a lot of recall, thanks to their beautiful melodies. The emotions created were ripe; and the songs, undeniably heartfelt. Our personal favorites are Look at Her and Smoke and Mirrors.

The Finale. Pavino, Taus, Gemora, Santos and Cerrudo belting out the Reprise of Look At Her.

Sabel is born and raised by her father Miguel played by Philippine Ballet Theatre’s Lemuel Capa.

1 | We finally answer the question, Who is Sabel? Long before she became the crazy bag lady slash taong grasa, and the muse behind BenCab’s artistry, she was a woman who loved to dance. The story introduces a beautiful love story between Miguel and Consolacion, who would then give birth to Sabel. Since she was born at a critical time of Philippine history, we would experience with her the unfolding of several historical events. It was a difficult time for a lot of Filipinos, and Sabel was no exception.

The Dancing Sabel was played by two soloists, mainly by Philippine Ballet Theatre’s Bianca Trocino.

As Consolacion abandoned her and her father, Miguel was left to raise the helpless Sabel on his own. But the misfortune did not end there. Still very young and unaware of the dangers of the world, Sabel would lose her father after he suffered from a serious health condition, leaving poor Sabel to figure out her life through the next few decades, alone.

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The world stopped. Young Sabel and Luis fell in love.

She would live through the World War II as a warrior, a comfort woman to the enemy soldiers, a nightclub headliner in the cabaret era, and a lover…

Darkness ensues. Sabel lets us into a world created by her despair.

We also  learn that even love can destroy you through and through. When Luis left her, both unaware that she was bearing his child – their child, her life began to fall apart. She had lost herself. A deranged woman would now take to the streets in search of scraps of plastic she finds and piece them together into something she could wrap around her body. It was a beautiful symbolism; Sabel wanders off to pick up the missing pieces of herself that was wasted away.

BenCab saw through her. She had many dimensions to her life. No wonder she’s come to be a recurring image in his works as a visual artist. Sabel-ReverbManila-(13)

We saw through her, too. We can no longer perceive Sabel as the deranged lady who wandered off to nowhere. Sabel was a courageous woman whose spirit may have been crushed due to several unfortunate, heartbreaking moments in her life, but what we need to remember is that, Sabel had loved passionately – even foolishly – with all her heart. Only, she’s lost so much in her life that she in turn lost herself. The story offers stark insights on the dangers of loving selflessly. We can lose ourselves. But life also teaches us that hope abounds – that anything lost can be found.


That’s why Sabel is a story of hopeSabel had the happy ending her heart truly deserved, as she reunited with a father she thought she had lost, and her son whom she had long abandoned.

And that, my fellow theater fans, is why Sabel, Love and Passion is not your average musical.

Tessa Prieto-Valdez joins the crazy-talented bunch.
National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose
Congratulations! Hizon, Ocampo, Santos and BenCab with the cast.

Sabel, Love and Passion: A Musical Production will hold its rerun at the Music Museum on June 26 and 27. And we dare all brave souls who have loved and lost to witness a compelling story you’ll forever remember. Get to know Sabel, and join Mr. Cabrera as he continues celebrating 50 remarkable years as visual artist.

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Catch it while you can! We can’t wait for you to share with us what you think.


Stay tuned for updates via http://www.reverbmanila.com!

TFM’s April Play Guide for Theater Fans Like You and Me

Satisfy your theater cravings this summer.

Here are some theater productions happening this April, courtesy of Theater Fans in Manila!

NEAR YET FAR, FAR YET NEARNear Yet Far, Far Yet Near - April 11

Venue: Dito: Bahay ng Sining

Run: Today! 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM

Theater Company: Ikarus

Lead Actors: Jerome Flor as Poet/Narrator

10 Questions: Guelan Luarca as Ben and Claire (TBA)

One Rainy Evening in April: Trency Caga-anan as Frances and Tarek El Tayech as Joseph

Playwrights: 10 Questions Written by Paolo Apagalang and One Rainy Evening in April Written by Enrique Estagle

Director: Paolo Apagalang

Ticket Prices: P350

How to Get Tickets: Contact BJ at 0906 424 1107

10 Questions. The year is 2010. The place, Manila, the Philippines. Enter Ben: a quiet, reserved, conservative guy. And Claire: a quirky, fun loving free spirit. They would’ve been perfect for each other. But they can’t exactly be romantic because their best friends have just split up. Or can they? The two start chatting one night. They start playing 10 questions. What happens now? In a tale of friendship, loyalty, romance, happiness, awkwardness and everything in between, how does one answer the question of: “What is love?”

One Rainy Evening in April. Watch this play if you’ve ever thought of saying something to someone you love/used to love, but ended up not saying it. Or saying something different. Yeah, we’re going to make you cry.


Run for your Wife - April 10

Venue: Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1

Run: April 10-May 3 (Fridays-Sundays)

Theater Company: Repertory Philippines

Director: Miguel Faustmann

Lead Actors: Jamie Wilson, Goldie Soon, Mikkie Bradshaw, Jeremy Domingo, Paul Holme, James Stacey, Steven Conde, and Mara Javier

Ticket Prices: P600, P500, P400

How to Get Tickets: Call 843-3570 or Ticketworld at 891-9999 / ticketworld.com.ph

The story of London cab driver John Smith, with two wives, two lives and a very precise schedule for juggling them both. With one wife at home in Streatham and another at home in Wimbledon, and with occupants of the flat upstairs at the latter location.

Trouble brews when Smith is mugged and ends up in hospital, where both of his addresses surface, causing both the Streatham and Wimbledon police to investigate. Having upset his schedule, Smith becomes hopelessly entangled in his attempts with his lazy layabout neighbour upstairs in Wimbledon, to explain himself to his wives and two suspicious police officers.



Venue: APC Auditorium (3 Humabon Place, Magallanes, Makati City)

Run: April 14, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Theater Company: Teatre Phileo

Playwright: Rogelio Braga

Directors: Wisdom Miuceros and Cled Laranang

Ticket Prices: Blank-ticket (any amount you deem necessary)

How to Get Tickets: Call Wisdom at 0926 187 1625

Kabalintunaan is a twin-bill play production, which is composed of “Ang Mga Mananahi” and “So Sanggibo A Ranon Na Piyatay O Satiman A Tadman”, both written by Mr. Rogelio Braga (a writer, essayist, and playwright based in Manila). These two stories both aim to raise awareness about the lives of Moros, Meranaos, Bangsa Moros, and Muslims in our country.

Notes: Ang aming malilikom na kita mula sa dulaang ito ay ihahandog namin sa Health Organization of Mindanao (HOM) – isang lokal na organisasyon mula sa lungsod ng Cotabato na may layuning mapaunlad ang kalusugan at kapakanan ng ating mga kababayang Pilipino, lalung-lalo na sa mga apektadong komunidad, sa kusang-loob na batayan.

Ouroboros: Mga Pananalamin at Panganganino


Venue: Teatro Hermogenes Ylagan (THY), Faculty Center, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Run: April 17, 7p.m., April 18-19 (2 p.m. and 7 p.m.)

Theater Company: UP Dulaang Laboratoryo

Directors and Choreographers: Jon Abella, Al Garcia, Stephen Vinas, Dexter M. Santos

How to Get Tickets: Contact Camille Guevara at 0917 823 9531 or dupguevara@gmail.com, or the Dulaang UP office at 981-8500 loc 2449 / 433-7840 (look for Camille Guevara or Samanta Clarin)

The show features plays that mirror human’s rituals of introspection and (re)discovery:

Ang Ahas (Alexander Cortez’ translation of Jean Claude Van Itallie’s The Serpent), a ceremony of sin, violence, greed, lust, and human desires;

Para Sa Mga Babaeng Manlalakbay na Nagtangkang Magpatiwakal Habang Nasa Daan Patungo Sa Bahaghari (Joi Barrios’ adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf), a tribute to seven women in a journey to their dreams and horrors; and

Ang Sopranong Kalbo (Rolando Tinio’s Filipino translation of Donald M. Allen’s English translation of Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano), a sojourn to a series of nonsensical life events.


Venue: Opera Haus (3657 Bautista St. Palanan, Makati)

Run: April 22, 7 p.m.

Theater Company: Philippine Opera Company

Musical Direction: Jon Meer Vera Perez

Director: Floy Quintos

Performers: Karla Gutierrez, Tricia Amper Jimenez, Lorraine Lisen, Joseleo Logdat, Bernadette Mamauag, Krissan Manikan, Gabri Dolor Panlilio, Nomer Son, Jurgen Unterburg with RankOne guest performers Christine Crame, Anton Ferrer, Wesley Pereira, Jon Meer Vera Perez, Stephanie Reese, and Jonathan Wagner

How to Get Tickets: Call the Philippine Opera Company at 822 9609 / 0917 527 2880

MAD ABOUT MOZART: SEX, SEDUCTION, DEATH, AND TRANSCENDENCE will present excerpts from the seminal operas and oratorios of Mozart integrated with dance, stream of consciousness narrative, and mixed media. All performers – singers, dancers, actors, and musicians – will be integrated with the audience for an all-immersive 360-degree black box theatre experience. Mozart’s music is alternatingly sacred and profane, exploring the perennial conflict between the id, the ego, and the super ego. Ultimately, the programming of the scenes will demonstrate that we can attain a state of classical ‘balance’ and inner peace by exploring the layered dimensions of dark and light.


Karitas at Damaso

Venue: Bulwagang Tandang Sora, CSWCD

Run: April 24 and 26 (7pm), April 25, 27, May 1 (3 p.m. and 7 p.m.)

Theater Company: The UP Repertory Company
Directors: Dax Carnay and Eshei Mesina

Ticket Prices: P140 (students), P200 (regular)

How to Get Tickets: Call Mara at 0917 852 8950

This summer, The UP Repertory Company will take you in on a party with ravaged personas lingering in the darkness behind church doors and beyond the forests. No other party this summer will drive you as wild as KARITAS AT DAMASO X ISANG MAGSASAKA, an all-new twin-bill production featuring the works of two prolific playwrights from the UP College of Arts and Letters, Professor Reuel Aguila and U.Z. Eliserio, and their amusing take on Philippine culture and history:

U.Z. Eliserio’s KARITAS AT DAMASO is a musical satire about fanaticism in four devout Catholics- a priest, two nuns, and a lady – who unravel certain experiences in sin and sex in an action-filled battle of faith and wits.

ISANG MAGSASAKA by Reuel Aguila is a Palanca-award winning play that tells one violent incident through three different narratives, a testament that reality is indeed painted in multicolor and shades of gray.

In its 43rd Year of Service to Philippine Theater, we bring you a musical celebration of the lives of the common woman and man that aims to liberate minds, question the authorities, and rock the system. Under the direction of two of its prized alumni, Dax Carnay and Eshei Mesina, the UP Repertory Company takes you into these two tales of struggle in an entertaining romp of music, wit and tragedy- a summer party you’ll never forget!

Broadway Open Mic

Broadway Open Mic

Venue: DITO: Bahay ng Sining (J. Molina Street, 1807, Marikina City)

Run: April 25, 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Company: DITO and Sixteen Bars

Ticket Prices: P150 door charge plus a free drink and a song slot; P 50 per additional song slot

Contact: 0922 870 2145; 0922 872 0651; 0923 224 4707; 0915 502 1497

Want to belt out your favorite broadway song? Then make sure to be at DITO: Bahay ng Sining on April 25 (Saturday). Be ready with a music sheet of your choice or notify Sixteen Bars before the event about what song you’re singing so the pianist can assist you in finding the music sheet.

SABEL, Love and Passion: A Musical Theater Production (World Premier Gala)


Venue: The Theatre at Solaire

Run: April 30 (Thursday), 8 p.m.

Theater Company: FRStage, Inc. Production

Presenters: BenCab Art Foundation and Sureste Properties, Inc.

Direction, Book and Lyrics: Freddie Santos

Music and Musical Direction: Louie Ocampo

Actors: Iza Calzado, The Philippine Ballet Theater, Audie Gemora, Aicelle Santos, Bo Cerrudo, Tonette Taus, Timmy Pavino, and Tippy Dos Santos

How to Get Tickets: Stay tuned for further updates

For many years, Sabel served as a major recurring subject in many of National Artist Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab)’s works. Sabel, Love and Passion: A Musical Theater Production will be a highlight of BenCab’s celebrates 50 years of his artistry. This historic new musical theater production will showcase the musical genius of Louie Ocampo, with the direction, book and lyrics of Freddie Santos. Starring actress Iza Calzado and the Philippine Ballet Center, Sabel, Love and Passion will be joined by both respectable and promising theater performers to date. Among them are Audie Gemora, Aicelle Santos, Bo Cerrudo, Tonette Taus, Timmy Pavino, and Tippy Dos Santos!

So don’t miss out on these great shows!

Take your pick and have a happy #TFMWeekend!

Theater Fans in Manila

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