The new faces of Atlantis
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - March 8, 2013 - 12:00am

Theater in the Philippines is not only alive and well. It is, in fact, flourishing. Just think, there are lots of times when concert stages are empty but you will surely find a drama or musical playing in a theater or two. Go and watch and you will find well-made productions featuring talented artists. You know they are only earning a pittance of what a local TV personality makes in one show. But they still give their very best, ensuring that the audience will go home, happy and satisfied.

Atlantis Productions is one of those responsible for many of those enjoyable evenings at the theater these past 14 years. With directors Bobby Garcia and Chari Arespacochaga at the helm, Atlantis has brought to the local stage the best and the newest shows from Broadway and the West End. On stage and off, these featured multi-awarded artists, industry legends and even Tony Award winners. Disney’s Little Mermaid, Rock of Ages, Carnage, A Little Night Music were some of these presentations.

There will be lots more to enjoy in the 2013 season, when Atlantis goes into double go-go mode. There’s Piaf, starring Pinky Amador, which opens tonight at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza, the repeat of the big hit Rock of Ages and the musical Carrie. And then, there is Viva Atlantis Theatricals (VAT), Atlantis’ partnership with Viva Communications, which kicks off on April 19 with The Full Monty, followed by Disney’s Tarzan and The Addams Family.

Now, Atlantis is known for its surprising casting choices. Remember Vina Morales in Rock of Ages and Dawn Zulueta in A Little Night Music? And also for shepherding the newcomers to become stars of the Philippine stage by always providing them with the chance to shine alongside stellar veterans. Many of them have gone on to successful acting careers. Many more will soon, because there is a new batch of young theater talents who will get their big breaks in the exciting Atlantis and VAT shows this year.

K-La Rivera was 18 years old when she moved to the Philippines from Canada and ended up as one of the finalists in ABS-CBN’s Star Power. Manila took better notice when Atlantis cast her in the role of Nina in In The Heights, followed by the hit production of Disney’s Aladdin as Princess Jasmine. Check her out next as Wednesday Addams in VAT’s The Addams Family later this year.

The versatile Bibo Reyes earned raves and many a female fan as Sonny in In The Heights. Then he stopped the show as Franz in Rock of Ages. Next stop for him was Avenue Q in Singapore as Nicky and Trekkie Monster and then as the perpetually hungry Babkak in Disney’s Aladdin. He will be seen next in Rock of Ages, Carrie and The Addams Family.

Grace Lilette Lorenzana studied performing arts at St. Mary’s University in the US. Having decided to pursue a career in theater in the Philippines, she sent Atlantis a video audition and was offered a part in Disney’s Aladdin. Her next stint will be in Carrie.

Yannah Laurel is surely the most seasoned among these young artists. She has already appeared in over 10  shows including Hairspray, Spring Awakening, Legally Blonde and Disney’s Little Mermaid for Atlantis. She was last seen as Stephanie Necrophorus in Nine.

Markki Stroem began appearing in theater when he was eight years old and then later made his mark as a contestant in Pilipinas Got Talent. He returned to the stage in the critically-acclaimed Atlantis production of Next to Normal where he played Henry to rave reviews. He has since then starred in Camp Rock and released his debut album, Thousands of Pieces.

Then, there’s Kim who was named after Kim in Miss Saigon. She has been singing since she was five and recently won several awards at the global competition Championships of the Performing Arts.

Atlantis also has high hopes for recording artist Garrie Concepcion, who will be taking to the stage for the first time this year; Mako Alonso who comes from a family of performers and is in the cast of Piaf; Anja Aguilar, grand prize winner of Little Big Star Season 2, who will also make her theater debut this year; Mikkie Bradshaw, a sensation in Nine and Rock of Ages who is up for her biggest break his year; and Sandino Martin, who was Basilio in El Fili, who is appearing now in Piaf and who is also up for his big movie break this year.

They are all young, talented and attractive. Thanks to the guiding hands of Atlantis, they are now the big hope of Philippine theater.


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