Gerald ‘grateful’ to be busy amid pandemic

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Gerald �grateful� to be busy amid pandemic
Gerald Santos is taking the lead in the musical I Will, which is streaming this Oct. 16 on KTX, and starring in two movies, Joel Lamangan’s Deception and Lawrence Fajardo’s Mamasapano, both under Borracho Film Production.

MANILA, Philippines — Gerald Santos has found reasons to be “grateful” despite the pandemic. He’s taking the lead in a musical and starring in a couple of movies.

The 30-year-old singer and theater actor topbills I Will: The Musical, which after delays due to the COVID situation, is pushing through this weekend. Written and directed by Antonino Rommel Ramilo (San Pedro Calungsod The Musical), the original musical filmed last July in a physical theater drew inspiration from the life and love story of husband-and-wife doctor tandem Willie and Liza Ong.

In the musical, Gerald plays opposite Paulina Yeung. Born in California and raised in Hong Kong and the Philippines, the theater actress recently finished her run as Princess Tuptim in the Tony-winning Broadway musical The King and I. She toured with the production across the US, Canada and UK from 2018 to 2020. Also in the cast are theater stalwarts Ima Castro, Robert Seña and Bo Cerrudo.

I Will is set for streaming on ABS-CBN’s digital events platform KTX.ph starting Oct. 16, with each e-ticket priced at P249 and giving 24-hour access to the musical. It will be shown for free “soon” on the YouTube and Facebook pages of the Ong couple, who are also co-producers of the musical.

According to Gerald, the musical started coming together in January, was originally scheduled last June, but filming only took place in July while post-production got delayed due to changing pandemic restrictions as well as the Delta surge.

“The musical experienced a lot of challenges because of the pandemic. And we know how it is with theater, it thrives on the rehearsals, in the get-together. It’s all about ensemble, it’s teamwork. An original musical takes a minimum of two months of rehearsals. With us, we did it for one week, but gladly before that, we were having music rehearsals online. We already studied the songs, so what we had to work on were blocking, choreography and technical aspects. We’ve been able to come up with a musical and are very happy with the result,” Gerald told The STAR.

When asked about the experience of playing a real-life person in a musical, he said, “Ang hirap kasi ang daming tinackle ng musical — bullying, mental health, anxiety disorder, problems with the family. It’s more on the chaos on his mind. Kasi nung bata daw siya, ang dami niyang questions sa sarili niya, na ano dapat kong gawin? He’s like the typical Chinese person story na gusto mag-business siya ng kanyang magulang, pero siya gusto niyang mag-doctor, so, ang daming battlefields sa buhay niya…”

“There’s this number titled Chaos, dun sinasabi yung frustrations niya. Naglalaban yung personality nako-confuse, personality na nina-nag siya, personality niya na, ‘Hindi, kakayanin mo yan,’ very positive… It tackles a lot… (but) there’s resolution in the ending that’s why it’s titled ‘I Will’. All in all, positive yung vibe niya and yung mararamdaman ng tao na manonood.”

It’s a different experience for Gerald because “finally, dito sa Pilipinas, di na ako gaganap ng santo,” referring to his last musical where he played the second Filipino saint Pedro Calungsod, “but I’m still wearing white (here). Here, they’ll see different sides of me as a performer, different emotions. It’s a very challenging part but I’m very happy I was able to do it.”

Apart from the musical, Gerald is starring in two movies. These are the Joel Lamangan-directed Deception, which happens to be the reunion film project of Claudine Barretto and Mark Anthony Fernandez, and Mamasapano, to be directed by Lawrence Fajardo. Both are produced by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio’s Borracho Films with Deception co-produced by Viva. Gerald said that both Deception and Mamasapano are his first-ever foray into the “mainstream” film scene.

In Deception, he is also a love interest of Claudine. “Nakaka-intimidate (siya) lalo nung nandoon ka sa set because of course, you’re relatively new in the movies. But she (Claudine) never made me feel like, ‘I’m your senior.’ She was just telling stories about her life. She was so friendly but when it came to the scenes, wow!

“There was this one scene that we needed to shoot in different angles. It was a break-down scene, three or four times kinunan siya so three or four times din siya umiyak. I learned a lot from her, especially when it came to techniques she used to motivate herself. She would just be asking for a silent moment, ‘O, quiet muna.’ Then she’d go to one corner, tapos pag sinabi niya ng, ‘I’m ready direk,’ that’s it, on cue,” he said.

Deception will be released in December.

As for Mamasapano, which is based on the 2015 clash that resulted in the deaths of 44 Special Action Forces (SAF) troopers, according to Gerald, it will definitely push through. Shooting will resume in December.

There’s a plan to do a comedy film (tentatively titled Bigote Power) also under Borracho and if it pushes through, “I’m excited about it because it’s going to be my first time ever to do comedy.” He is also eyeing an online concert late this year. Also being hammered out is a possible co-management with a leading talent management company that will produce his sixth studio album.

Gerald, who became part of the Miss Saigon UK run as Thuy, still hopes to be cast in international musical productions. Right before the pandemic, he had received a final callback for Les Miserables production in the UK, but it was put on hold because of the pandemic. “I am hoping balikan pa rin ako, but I’m really happy with my career here right now. Very thankful ako sa mga dumating despite the (COVID) situation.”

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