Body Talk with Markki Stroem
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - March 4, 2011 - 12:00am

You remember Markki Stroem as the Filipino-Norwegian finalist last year in the ABS-CBN talent search Pilipinas Got Talent, the one who caught your attention and won the hearts and nod of televiewers with his talent for singing and with musical instruments.

Very soon, you will remember Markki as the lead character Henry in Next To Normal, which is being mounted by Atlantis Productions on March 11 to 27 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City, directed by Bobby Garcia.

Fresh from the critical success of his Manila and Singapore staging of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, Bobby recalled, “Markki came into audition and we immediately knew we had found our Henry. He is an honest, truthful young performer with a remarkable singing voice. He is also passionate about theater which is a rarity in young performers these days. He is a welcome addition to the theater scene.”

Next To Normal recently concluded its hit run on Broadway and continues to run on tour. New York Times critic Ben Brantley raved about it: “Next To Normal is one of the bravest musicals to hit mainstream — a jolt of raw, contemporary pain, propelled by a rock ‘n roll pulse. It makes your heart swell.”

The musical, with music by Tom Kitt, and books and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, has won three Tony Awards and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Manila production is the first licensed English-language production followed by an Australian production in April.

Theater is not alien territory to Markki who has done a few plays in high school and with Repertory Philippines.

“Henry is one of my dream roles,” said Markki. “After Henry, I hope to play the others. Playing Henry is tough; I’ve been preparing hard for it.”

An Arian (he’s turning 23 on March 21), Markki stands 5’11”; weighs 155 lbs.; and wears small/medium-size shirt, medium-size briefs and size-11 shoes.

How did you prepare for Next to Normal?

“I did research on Henry, the character I’m playing, and how other actors played him on Broadway. Even when I was just memorizing my lines, I tried to live the role; I really put my heart and soul into it.”

It’s your first time to go into professional theater. You must be feeling nervous.

“Hmmmm, yes. It helps a lot that I did theater in high school at ISM and then with Repertory Philippines.”

You have to be onstage for two hours or longer and it can be physically taxing. What physical training did you do?

 “I bike every day for about an hour and I do spinning classes in the gym to keep my voice alive. As soon as I wake up early in the morning I go straight to the bathtub and vocalize. I train under Kitchie Molina, my voice teacher. Then I do more vocal exercises by going up and down the stairs.”

What kind of diet do you follow?

“I eat mostly chicken breast without the skin and white meat. I take a lot of hot green tea every day for my voice. I take Vitamin C. I lead a healthy life.”

Do you smoke?

“I don’t.”

Do you drink?

“A bit. In college, I took up Hotel & Restaurant Management (HRM). I had to sample drinks.”

How much water do you take per day?

“Oh, a lot! That’s plain water, in addition to the green tea.”

What other workout do you do?

“I run in the morning. Sometimes, I swim. I lift weights. I box on Sundays. I used to do triathlon when I was a kid and I’m going back to it now.”

What part of your body needs improvement?

 “Every part. Hahahaha! I have an enlarged heart so I work out regularly. I got it when I was a kid. I used to run a lot and that made my heart grow bigger.”

Are you taking any medication for your enlarged heart?

“At the moment, no. I just work out a lot.”

What part of your body is most vulnerable?

“My respiratory system, perhaps. I’m allergic to dust and pollution and to cigarette smoke. I sneeze a lot; my head tends to hurt and I get rashes all over my body.”

What part of your body is your favorite?

 “My hands. They are pretty long. The good thing about having long hands is that you are able to do a lot more things. You can play the piano better. And you have a farther reach.”

What part of a girl’s body do you notice first?

“Her eyes, because you can get something from them. I like girls who are sporty.”

And what kind turns you off?

“Giggly girls.”

How much sleep do you get per night?

“Eight to 10 hours, or longer.”

Favorite sleepwear?

“A shirt and shorts. I don’t want to catch a cold.”

Do you snore?

“I used to, until I had my tonsils taken out. I suffer from sleep apnea. But with my tonsils out, I have no more difficulty breathing.”

Do you talk in your sleep?

“Nowadays, yes. It’s fun! What do I talk about? I forget all about them as soon as I wake up.” I sleep soundly and I sometimes have nightmares — you know, bangungot.”

Do you sleepwalk?

“I don’t. Just bangungot. It happens when I am so tired and I go to sleep right away.”

What’s the last thing that you do before you go to sleep?

“I put the TV on and watch local shows because I’m trying to polish my Tagalog. That’s what I usually do before I go to sleep.”

And the first thing that you do when you wake up?

“I eat a bowl of cereals. I do push-ups, and run up and down the stairs in my condo. My housemates (a couple) are leaving soon and I’ll be living alone.”

How do you cope with stress?

“I exercise.”

Do you have a nightlife?

“To be honest? No! Sometimes, I go out with friends but I can be boring because I don’t drink so much. I don’t enjoy partying.”

How’s your love life? Do you have a girlfriend?

“At the moment, no, I don’t have a girlfriend. I’m just busy enjoying this acting thing. You know how girlfriends are…they want your attention all the time. So I decided not to concentrate on that at present and concentrate instead on my career.”

Does it follow that if you don’t have a love life, you don’t have a sex life?

“No. But to be honest with you, because of the rehearsals for the play, I get so tired that when I get home all I want is just to fall asleep. I have had three girlfriends so far and that’s enough for the moment. Maybe I’ll have one when the time is right.”

Name three women that you think know how to take care of their body.

“Angelina Jolie. Anne Curtis. Bea Alonzo.”

And three men that you think have nice bodies.

“Brad Pitt is one of them. I can ‘t think of two more.”

Using only body language, how would you make a girl know that you admire her?

“I just look at her and try to catch her eyes.”

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph or at entphilstar@yahoo.com)

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC AFTER HENRY AN ARIAN DON MARKKI NEXT TO NORMAL REPERTORY PHILIPPINES
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