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Chinggoy Alonso: The best of two worlds

imageWhat’s a seasoned theater actor doing on television? A lot! Chinggoy Alonso is much busier playing Dingdong Dantes’s father in GMA 7’s Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga (Monday to Friday, 7:30 p.m.) than appearing in plays for which he has carved a name as a respected performer.


Call it a sign of the times. The economic pinch has made it more and more difficult to come up with a musical as grand as say, Westside Story, which Chinggoy did to the tune of P4-M as far back as three years ago.


The epic plays are becoming more and more like dinosaurs – reminders of a past whose impact on our lives persists to this day.


No wonder Chinggoy feels so blessed. Television has kept him productive and visible – this time to an audience wider than that reached by the more elitist stage.


The patrician-looking Chinggoy has become a familiar face, not only to Forbes Park socialites who patronize theater, but to the vendor at the Baguio public market who recognized him instantly when he bought a basket of strawberries there recently.


Passersby hum the theme song of Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga when they see Chinggoy. Bank tellers come up to him to say how they’d pack up their things and hurry home after work just to catch the popular soap series.


It’s the story that gets them hooked. Curious people would ask Chinggoy what fate awaits the two Cecilias in the story. They’d comment on his relationship with his wife in the story. The queries are endless.


And Chinggoy is tickled pink at these reactions.


Television is a totally different ballgame for this stage director, scriptwriter and producer rolled into one. While theater thrives on rehearsals, TV banks on spontaneity to see it through. While exaggerated movements is the name of the game in theater, his turf for 35 years now, TV goes by the less-is-more dictum. The more restrained the acting, the better. This, he learned in his 15 years on television.


And because he is a dyed-in-the-wool performer, not some celebrity who relies on a monster called box office appeal to make it, Chinggoy can play any role he fancies. To hell with image – which some stars protect to high heavens. Chinggoy can, and has played a gay, Dawn Zulueta’s much older lover (Ikaw Naman ang Iiyak), and even dabbled in action scenes (in the Janno Gibbs-Andrew E. comedy Tusong Twosome).


And, since variety is the spice of his professional career, Chinggoy is dying to play someone different, say a villain, ala Tirso Cruz III in Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga. He also wants to flex his acting muscles, this time in another action vehicle.


Although TV takes the lion’s share of his time these days, Chinggoy has not turned his back on theater, his first love. The Brazilian Embassy recently handed him a plaque of appreciation for mounting a play for poor but deserving students.


This coming Holy Week, Chinggoy’s theater group, The Company of Players will hie up to the Baguio Country Club to mount Camelot there. The play, Chinggoy hopes, will fan the flames of theater consciousness even more up in The City of Pines.


Chinggoy Alonso straddles the best of two worlds – theater, whose psychic rewards are immeasurable to him, and television, which has embraced him as one of its own.


That he has managed to endure, nay shine, in these two disparate worlds is no mean feat. It is, if any, a testament to his talent.

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