Vivoree Esclito, BGYO's JL and Akira make stage debut in 'Tabing Ilog the Musical'

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
Vivoree Esclito, BGYO's JL and Akira make stage debut in 'Tabing Ilog the Musical'
The cast and crew of the 2023 run of "Tabing Ilog the Musical."
Philstar.com / Kristofer Purnell

MANILA, Philippines — Star Magic and the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) have joined forces to bring to the stage once more "Tabing Ilog the Musical," based on the popular series that ran from 1999 to 2003.

The original show starred the likes of John Lloyd Cruz, Jodi Sta. Maria, Kaye Abad, Baron Geisler, Paolo Contis, Patrick Garcia and Desiree del Valle. It helped kickstart their popularity into the 21st century.

A musical adaptation of "Tabing Ilog" was staged at the ABS-CBN Dolphy Theater in 2020, following initial plans to reboot the series. It was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the nearly four years after its initial run, the musical was reworked to reflect the new environment of the youth so much so that only three of the 24 songs in the production were carried over from the 2020 edition, and even those saw some changes in the lyrics.

"Tabing Ilog the Musical" will serve as the stage debuts of Kapamilya singer-actress Vivoree Esclito; the leader of girl group BINI, Jhoanna Robles and BGYO members Akira Morishita and JL Toreliza. They are just a few of the Star Magic talents appearing in the production.

Esclito and Robles will alternate in the role of Eds, originated by Abad, alongside Sheena Belarmino from "Tawag ng Tanghalan," while the BGYO boys will alternate as Rovic, originally played by John Lloyd Cruz — coincidentally the JL in Toreliza's name stands for John Lloyd.

Kiara Takahashi, Chaye Mogg and "Pinoy Big Brother: Connect" runner-up Andi Abaya will alternate in the role of George (Sta. Maria's former role). Takahashi previously played Eds in the musical's prior run with Gab Pangilinan and Abi Kassem.

Former "Pinoy Big Brother" housemates Jordan Andrews and Kobie Brown will play James, Garcia's former role. Miah Canton, also from "Tawag ng Tanghalan," will alternate with "Pinoy Big Brother" winner Anji Salvacion as Corrine, originally played by Del Valle.

Related: Vivoree Esclito shares learnings from past ABS-CBN Ball wardrobe malfunction

Vino Mabalot and "Idol Philippines" alumnus Drei Sugay will alternate as Fonzy (Geisler's former role), while thespians Earvin Estioco and Jude Matthew Servilla alternate as Badong, formerly played by Contis.

Teenage actor Omar Uddin will play a new character created for this 2023 run named Andoy, a role that actor-model Benedix Ramos will alternate with along with the Rovic role.

Also playing new characters in "Tabing Ilog the Musical" are seasoned theater actors Lance Reblando, Vyen Villanueva, Teetin Villanueva, Neomi Gonzales, Red Nuestro and Joann Co.

At the press conference last October 4 at the PETA Theater Center — where the musical will run from November 10 to December 17 — Esclito, Morishita and Toreliza admitted that they have watched clips of the original show and the premature 2020 musical on YouTube and TikTok.

Some of the new cast members even met Abad and Geisler at the 2023 ABS-CBN Ball where they got a few tips on how to approach their characters in their own way.

Abad, Geisler, Contis, Garcia and Del Valle surprised the new cast by sending videos of support for the musical, which will be 80% sung and be set in a modern timeline.

PETA artistic director Maribel Legarda said this will be the first time that they will adapt a television show from the 1990s, and in doing so, sees it as a "a healthy continuing tradition of marrying broadcast and stage." She added that PETA will attempt to challenge those aesthetics.

Musical director Phil Noble agreed, saying that young generations will be introduced to "Tabing Ilog" and will see how it will manage to tackle the issues of the youth, only this time it will be through a musical and a targetted focus at a Gen Z audience.

RELATED: 'Tabing Ilog' throwback: Patrick Garcia posts photo with Kaye Abad, Paolo Contis

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