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Bare, Bold & Beautiful

In The Full Monty, his second foray into theater, wholesome dude Mark Bautista throws caution — and clothes — to the wind in a daring career move for, well, ‘art’s sake’ PHOTOS by RAYMUND ISAAC  

To bare or not to bare.

That seems to be the question nagging every actor and every actress faced with the challenge of showing (even a bit of) flesh. That’s the current “fad,” you know. Baring for a glossy magazine spread is deemed to be an effective vehicle for an actor/actress raring to make a radical career move. Bare or bust.

Mark Bautista is jumping into the bold-wagon the other way — on stage. After an impressive debut as Crisostomo Ibarra in the Tanghalang Pilipino musical Noli Me Tangere, he dares to bare (well, almost!) in The Full Monty, the first project of Viva Atlantis Theatricals on Friday, April 19, at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City.

Cast as Jerry Lukowski, Mark said that the down-on-his-luck character is too challenging to turn down.

An American version of the 1997 British comedy-drama, The Full Monty was adapted for stage by Terrence McNally. The local staging is directed by Chari Arespacochaga (who also helmed Rock Of Ages, starring Fil-Aussie Broadway actor MiG Ayesa, in the same venue last year), also starring Marco Sison, Jamie Wilson, Arnell Ignacio, Niño Alejandro and OJ Mariano. Musical direction is by Ceejay Javier, set design by Dennis Lagdameo, costume design by Twinkle Zamora and lighting design by Jonjon Villareal.

How will direk Chari do the “full monty” scene? I’ve seen the musical on Broadway a few years ago and I know how it was done out there. And here? Find out at the Carlos P. Romulo stage. (Trivia: Ricky Davao said that he also saw it on Broadway and he wouldn’t mind playing one of the roles. Maybe in another staging?)

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Why did it take you so long to go bolder/sexier?

“Actually, I did a sexy video about seven years ago for my song You Win the Game and I also did some sexy photo shoots before. It is not really new for me. I’m just raising it to a whole new level this time.”

What finally convinced you to throw caution — and clothes — to the wind for Full Monty?

“I have to. That is the story and because the producer is Viva Atlantis. So I know I’m in good hands. Then there are six of us guys on stage. There’s no picture taking or video-filming.  No piracy, too! I feel totally fine!”

How did you condition yourself for the role (which is your “baptism of fire”)?

“I take this very seriously and do everything I should. I work on my English a lot, since it is my first English play. I vocalize and study my script every day. No distractions. And as much as possible I stay home after rehearsals. I sleep early so I will not be late the next day.”

What’s in the Full Monty character that you identify with?

“I think I identify with my character, Jerry Lukowski. Although I am not married, I have experienced being down and having to stop my studies because my family was so hard up. I didn’t know what to do because I wanted so much to help my parents. I know what kapit sa patalim is. Like Jerry, I made a make-or-break effort. I went to audition for Star for a Night. I took the cargo boat because I had no money for the fare to go to Manila. It paid off and here I am. That was 10 years ago.”

What special preparation did you do for the role (mention physical training, diet, etc.)?

“I do body-weight training at least four times a week and cardio every day because I need the energy. As for food, I follow a low-carb high-protein diet only.”

You were impressive in your performance as Crisostomo Ibarra in Noli Me Tangere, your theater debut. Compare and contrast the Ibarra role and the Full Monty role in terms of challenge.

“Thank you for saying that. Noli was a different challenge for me. It was difficult but I learned so much from that experience.  That was sung-through, dark and heavy. On the other hand, The Full Monty is light and funny.  But it is still hard in another way. I need to work on so many things like learn the American humor, the comic timing and the kind of singing required.”

On a regular basis, what kind of diet do you have?

“Also low-carb and high-protein only.”

What workout do you do (and how often)?

“I also do the weight training four times a week and cardio exercises daily. Actually, direk Chari does not want us to look all buffed up on stage because we have to look like ordinary guys.”

Any health habits that you observe (such as avoiding certain food, etc.)? 

“I avoid carbs and I eat very little meat. I also fast on just water once in a while.”

How do you cope with the demands of showbiz (mention how you cope with stress, how you unwind, how much sleep do you get per night and how often do you, in a way, “get away from it all”)?

“Working out relaxes me. Bonding with my family is also a breather for me. I try to see my parents as much as I can. We just stay home. I’ve been getting a lot of sleep lately because I just want to rest after rehearsals so I can be ready for work the next day. Sometimes I just go off by myself. Last year, I backpacked around Europe alone. That was where I memorized Noli.”

Are you happy with the way your career is going?

“I am very, very happy. I have Full Monty and I have Party Pilipinas every Sunday.  I have a new album, The Sound of Love, that I am very excited about. I also have a solo concert on June 29. I am busy and happy.”

Any chance that you let pass maybe because you were afraid you wouldn’t live up to the challenge?

“I am a risk-taker and I’m always positive. I had second thoughts about accepting Full Monty but then I realized I would rather live a life of ‘oh well’s’ than ‘what if’s’. Everything worthwhile takes a little risk sometimes.”

Before Full Monty, did you get any offer to go daring? Any chance for you to bare some more in a movie or in a magazine spread (which is the current fad)?

“There was one offer to do an indie film that will show skin but I didn’t think it was for me. For now, everything just fell into place. This project came unexpectedly.”

What’s the nastiest gossip about you so far and how did you deal with it?

“Too many to mention. I’ve had my share. But I think gossip is now irrelevant. Sometimes you deal more with bashers and haters but I’ve realized that it ruins your day and it’s so useless. So I just ignore them and focus on how to make my day productive. There is so much I have to do. And it feels so much better.”

(Note: The Full Monty runs from April 19 to May 5. For tickets, call 892-7078 or Ticketworld at 891-9999.)

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

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