Meet the new cast of Rent

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I first saw Rent when it was staged by Bobby Garcia’s Atlantis Productions at the Music Museum. It was Atlantis’ initial theatrical presentation. I loved Calvin Millado who played Roger. Rent had a star-studded cast that included Michael de Mesa and Bituin Escalante. It was a big hit that had several repeat performances. It also played to theater audiences in Singapore. As one of the best-loved musical plays, Rent will be staged anew by 9 Works Theatrical starting Feb. 5 at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City with Robbie Guevarra directing. Rent won the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize. Book, Music and Lyrics by the late Jonathan Larson.

 Meet the new cast of Rent.

Gian Magdangal (as Roger Davis, a songwriter who is HIV positive). Gian’s stint in professional theater includes The Little Mermaid, Saturday Night Fever, Footloose, Beauty and the Beast, Once on This Island, and West Side Story. He was a member of a vocal group called 17:28 and runner-up on Philippine Idol. He is a GMA 7 artist and has just released Lovetracks under Sony Music. He is a full-time dad to son Haley with loving partner Sheree.

Fredison Lo (as Mark Cohen, an independent filmmaker and Roger’s roommate). Fredison was discovered by his pre-school teacher when she entered him in a Chinese singing contest where he won second place. From high school productions and a church theater group called Performers’ Circle, he became part of Innersoul, the premiere pop performing organization in De La Salle University. After a workshop with Trumpets Playshop, he earned the role of Narrator/God, alternating with Sam Concepcion as one of the leads of N.O.A.H.

Nicole Asensio (as Mimi Márquez, an exotic dancer with HIV). Nicole’s bloodline reads: Grandmothers Fides Cuyugan Asensio and Celia Diaz Laurel, uncle Cocoy Laurel. She is the daughter of Iwi Laurel. Her theater experiences include roles in world premier musicals like The Magic Staff and Why Flowers Bloom in May. Her first band Crowjane brought her music to Saigon, Vietnam. Nicole is now singing in an all-female rock band General Luna under Warner Music Philippines and is set to release her debut album this February.

OJ Mariano (as Tom Collins, a gay philosophy professor and anarchist with AIDS). OJ was second runner-up on ABS-CBN’s Star in a Million. His first solo album One Dream Come True earned him the Best Performance of a New Male Recording Artist (Awit Awards 2006). His recent album Ballads is a bestseller. At present, he is the house singer of The Singing Bee. Rent is OJ’s first crack in musical theatre.

Carla Guevara-Laforteza (as Maureen Johnson, a bisexual performance artist). Carla’s training with Repertory Philippines gave her the break to join the London production of Miss Saigon as Kim and Gigi understudy from 1995 to 1997. Recent theater credits include Avenue Q, (Manila and Singapore); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. As an ABS-CBN talent, she bagged the Best New Artist (TV–PMPC/2000). Carla is one of FHM’s 100 Sexiest (2000 to 2001).

Noel Rayos (as Benjamin “Benny” Coffin III, the local landlord and a former roommate of Roger, Mark, Collins, and Maureen). Noel’s theater credits include 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Hairspray, Little Mermaid, Honk!, Romansa ni Magno Rubio, Kanser, Boto ni Botong, May Day Eve and Blood Brothers. He recently appeared in PAGCOR’s Flow and Wanders. He is also a member of Philippine Opera Company’s Harana vocal octet.

Job Bautista (as Angel Dumott Schunard, a gay drag queen percussionist with AIDS). Job will mark his debut in Manila as a theater actor in Rent. He is studying at the University of the Philippines taking up a bachelor’s degree in Music, majoring in Voice under the guidance of Pablo Molina and Camille Lopez-Molina. Job is also a company contemporary dancer and aerialist of Airdance Philippines.

Jenny Villegas (as Joanne Jefferson, a lawyer, who is Maureen’s partner). Jenny’s theater credits include Sino Ka Ba Jose Rizal?, Alikabok, Saranggola ni Pepe, The Little Mermaid, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe and N.O.A.H: No Ordinary Aquatic Habitat, Scenes and Songs from Mamma Mia!, Beauty and The Beast, Moose Murders and Mulan, Jr. She co-owns the bag business Bolso Manila.

Cara Barredo (as Mimi Marquez in certain performances). Cara has been acting since she was six. Her most recent appearance was in Sweeney Todd. Other credits include Aladdin Jr., The Wizard Of Oz, Pinocchio and other Repertory Philippines’ musicals. She also performed in Wanders at the PAGCOR Theater. Cara is also an instructor in Repertory’s summer camp.

Ensemble members include Ring Antonio, Peachy Atilano, Johann dela Fuente, Harold Cruz, Gary Junsay, Raul Montesa, Anna Santamaria and Mark Tayag.

Rent goes on stage on Feb. 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. and Sundays, 4:30 p.m. For tickets, call 557-5860 or TicketWorld at 891-9999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph or www.9workstheatrical.com.










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