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Preparations for Balikatan in high gear

“Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.” — from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

One of the best loved love stories of all time is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The play defines what love is all about. It is a romantic tale about two young lovers whose families are at odds with each other. Shakespeare’s magnum opus has been made into a movie a number of times. Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard starred in the 1936 George Cukor version; Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 production starred Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting; while Baz Luhrmann filmed his own in 1996 with Claire Danes and Leonardo Di Caprio in the title roles. Many film enthusiasts, however, say that Zeffirelli’s movie is the best. It produced actors in Hussey, a 16-year-old from Argentina, and Whiting, a British 17-year-old, after an international search for the lead actors. It also won the Best Cinematography for Pasqualino De Santis, and Best Costume Design for Danilo Donati in the Oscars. Zeffirelli, on the other hand, was nominated as Best Director. Cineastes are one in saying that Romeo and Juliet remains the magical high point of Zeffirelli’s movie career.

Gantimpala Theater Foundation will have its theater version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with Lance Raymundo as Romeo. The play is Gantimpala’s Pearl Anniversary offering which will be staged from Jan. 19 to 20. Lance’s performance as the passionate and courageous Romeo Montague has earned praise and approval of thousands of students who watched the play last December at the AFP Theater.

Lance admits that when he played Romeo six years ago, he felt he didn’t hit it as an actor. He auditioned for the role and he was lucky to have gotten it. It was purely adventure for him.

“I was young then. What did I know about love?” Lance says. Sure, he cried and even pulled some stunts during his performances like nearly dropping his pants but his reading of the role was superficial.

According to him, it was only last December, when he started acting onstage again that he felt his heart bursting with emotions while playing Romeo.

“I’ve matured over the years and I went through an emotional roller coaster ride. I’ve even experienced the ‘you-and-me-against-the-world’ kind of love so I guess that’s why I can really deliver the role now.” Lance says he can now feel the pain and angst of Romeo crying over Juliet’s lifeless body. “I’m happy with the project because it gave me the opportunity to be with a live audience again and I’m proud of the production,” he says.

Romeo and Juliet directed by Tony Espejo has a lot to boast. Aside from the excellent and remarkable performances of its powerhouse artists, the stage design, costumes and props are also impressive. The whole production is as Shakespearean as it could be.

Joining Lance are Monica Llamas (Juliet), Bodjie Pascua (Friar Lawrence), Roeder Camaag (Mercutio), Kimberly Diaz (Lady Capulet), Ces Aldaba (Lord Capulet), Miguel Vasquez (Tybalt), Pamela Hundana (Lady Montague), Jeffrey Camaag (Lord Montague), Michiko Unso (Nurse), Arkin da Silva (Prince Escalus) and Francis Ong (Paris).

Romeo and Juliet will have a special run on Feb. 14 at Teatrino in Greenhills. Tickets are available at the Ticketnet office.

Another Gantimpala Theater production that is worthy of mention is Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing considered by many theater critics and enthusiasts as one of the best theatrical productions of 2007. 

The musical play is written by multi-Palanca winner J. Dennis Teodosio, directed by Tony Espejo, music by Jesse Lucas, with lights design by Joey Nombres and production design by Dwight Gaston. It stars Michael King Urieta (Pagong) and Francis Ong (Matsing) with their bestfriends and sidekicks Meldea Flor Formacil (Suso) and Anthony (Tarsier).

Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing was last performed at the Concert at the Park Open Air Auditorium last Dec. 30 as part of the commemoration of the 111th Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal. Dr. Rizal’s famous comic strip was the inspiration of the Filipino children’s musicale.

So, if you want Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing to visit your school, college, university or locale, call 528-0603 or 536-5860 or send an SMS message to 0921-5286308.

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