Return of the flaming fairies

Amadís Ma. Guerrero - The Philippine Star
Return of the flaming fairies
Cast members, alternate cast in casual wear, director Maribel Legarda et al. take a bow during press preview

MANILA, Philippines - Was it lovelier the third time around? Well, yes.

We refer to Care Divas (the title alone is a winner), the dance-musical-comedy-drama of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) which is now being staged for the third time around at the PETA Theater Center, Quezon City. And it will have a 50-show run until March 19.

The play, directed by Maribel Legarda, was given a press preview recently. Care Divas is the story of five gay overseas Filipino workers based in Israel, the Land of Zion, who morph into glamorous drag queens by night, something they cannot do in other Mideast states that are Muslim. In between, amidst a lot of singing and dancing and laugh-out-loud one-liners, we are given a front row seat to some of the problems and experiences of our OFWs abroad.

Care Divas was first presented in 2011, created a lot of buzz, went on an extended run and received a clutch of awards from PhilStage Gawad Buhay! In point of performances, however, it was overtaken by another PETA monster hit, Rak of Aegis. The latter deserves all the praises heaped upon it but, in my opinion, Care Divas is the more substantial and socially significant work. It was restaged at Greenbelt’s OnStage in Makati City, home of Repertory Philippines, which is also celebrating its 50th anniversary.

And now, it’s back to home base, the PETA Theater Center.

The play is written by Liza Magtoto, with the versatile Vincent de Jesus as the all-around lyricist-composer-arranger-musical director. Choreographer is Carlon Matobato.

The production now has two sets of cast members, the first mostly from the original while the second (and younger) are guest artists. The original care divas (who performed during the press preview) are Melvin Lee, Vincent de Jesus, Ricci Chan, Buddy Caamat and Jason Barcial. Alternates are Red Conception, Ron Alfonso, Gio Gaho, Thou Reyes and Dudz Teraña.

An original cast member, Paul Holme (alternating with Leo Rialp) reprises his role as the elderly Jewish patient, as does Myke Salomon (alternating with Jef Flores) as the handsome Arab, on the run, who becomes romantically involved with one of the care divas (and never mind if she is a he!). Veteran Sherry Lara is the bitchy Sarah.

Playwright Liza said, “Rak of Aegis is about a community, the resilience of the Filipino here, it’s more universal in a way. Care Divas is about being homeless, it crosses borders, races.”

Director Maribel opined: “Both plays are relevant, it’s about being able to survive and create other communities. Both are important for us in PETA.”

(For details, call PETA at tel. no. 725-6244.)

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