Keeping the theater industry alive

Leah C. Salterio - The Philippine Star
Keeping the theater industry alive
Repertory Philippines 2020 season directors (from left) Joey Mendoza, Carlos Siguion-Reyna and Toff de Venecia

MANILA, Philippines — “The theater industry is alive, bustling and vibrant.” This was positively enthused by Repertory Philippines’ newly-appointed artistic director, Liesl Batucan, who proudly unveiled the interesting productions for the theater company’s 2020 season.

With themes that are “universal, timely and relevant,” Rep’s 2020 line-up is set to excite theater-goers who are consistently looking for first-rate entertainment when it comes to live presentations.

“After 455 plays in its 53-year history and 83 seasons, Repertory Philippines is so proud to be at the forefront of theater today,” Liesel declares. “(This year) will be perfect as far as we’re concerned. We want the people to experience Rep 2020.”

Liesl continues the “unshakeable legacy” of Rep, after previous artistic directors Zeneida “Bibot” Amador, Baby Barredo and Joy Virata. Audiences can expect a new creative spirit that remains faithful to Rep’s legacy while bringing it forward.

Liesl assembles a brilliant and diverse core of creatives who will be making their debut in the Rep director’s chair. Thespians will also be treading the Rep boards for the first time and Rep veterans will make their much-awaited theater comeback.

From left: Liesl, Carlos Siguion-Reyna, Mindy Perez Rubio, Toff de Venecia and Ed Lacson Jr.

Throughout its 53-year illustrious history, Repertory Philippines has allowed audiences to see the world with new eyes by transporting them back in time or putting them in the shoes of another. For its 83rd season, Rep is holding up a mirror to different experiences, highlighting stories that are both unique and familiar.

Award-winning film director Carlitos Siguion-Reyna brings his critically acclaimed and renowned film legacy to the Rep stage, as he starts the 2020 season with the romantic-comedy, Stage Kiss, by American playwright Sarah Ruhl. To go onstage Feb. 7 to March 1, Stage Kiss assembles a cast that includes Missy Maramara, Tarek El Tayech, Andres Borromeo, Justine Narciso and Mica Pineda.

Pulitzer prize-winning Anna in the Tropics by Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz, debuts on the Rep stage from March 13 to April 5. Director is New York-based noted production designer Joey Mendoza. Leading the cast are Ana Abad Santos and Jake Macapagal, with Gab Pangilinan, Brian Sy, Gie Onida and Madeleine Nicolas.

Artistic director Liesl Batucan

Nikki Gil makes her Rep debut opposite Gian Magdangal, another Rep first-timer, in the well-loved Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel, to be staged May 1 to 24. Young director Toff de Venecia is at the helm. The musical will hold auditions for the rest of the cast members.

Wrapping up Rep’s 2020 offering is the children’s musical, Snow White and the Prince, by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman, the same writers of Rep’s highly successful 2018 production, Rapunzel, Rapunzel, A Very Hairy Fairy Tale. To be directed by Joy Virata, Snow White and the Prince runs Sept. 12 to Jan. 31, 2021.

A promising presentation to watch out for the first time is Rep Unplugged, an edgy and exciting new staging concept that is independent — or “unplugged” — from the rest of the season. To be directed by Ed Lacson Jr., Unplugged is alternative theater and will be performed in unconventional performance spaces.

Carousel’s Nikki Gil and Gian Magdangal

“The idea came about when Rep was staging Father’s Day early this year and the power was cut off,” recalled Rep president and CEO Mindy Perez-Rubio. “The audience was asked if they wanted to just go home and the play would be stopped or if they were willing to continue watching the play with the actors simply projecting their voices.”

The latter happened and Rep Unplugged was inevitably born.


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