Arts and Culture

Queen musical 'We Will Rock You' to premiere in Manila in October

Kathleen A. Llemit - Philstar.com
Queen musical 'We Will Rock You' to premiere in Manila in October
Poster for 'We Will Rock You' (left) starring Filipino-Australian actor MiG Ayesa (right).
AFP/Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images for Pantages Theatre

MANILA, Philippines — After two years of delayed opening, the planned arts and culture hub in the former Sta. Ana Racing track in Makati City finally opens with two productions, including a Queen-inspired musical.

The 10-floor Samsung Performing Arts Theater stands out in the 22-hectare integrated, mixed-used lifestyle district. It can easily be seen by passersby walking along the sidewalk and commuters driving along a major thoroughfare. It is also adjacent to the mall with several of its levels connected to it.

"As you all know, the theater is the very first to close and the last one to open. It brings me so much joy to see all of you today in this grand, majestic and beautiful facility," said Samsung Performing Arts Theater Managing Director Christopher Mohnani at last week's media preview.

Ayala Land Vice President and Estate Head of Makati, Mel Ignacio; Steps Dance Studio Owner/Managing Director, Sofia Zobel Elizalde; and Samsung Performing Arts Theater Managing Director, Christopher Mohnani

In an interview and short tour with Philstar.com, Mohnani showcased the features of the state-of-the-art performance and events space that will host two major productions. These are “Mula sa Buwan,” a reimagining of Edmond Rostand’s "Cyrano de Bergerac" and the post-apocalyptic rock musical “We Will Rock You” featuring Queen’s greatest hits. The show dates for said productions begin on August 26 and October 27, respectively.

Guests are greeted with high walls and a spacious ground floor lobby. The main lobby is located on the fifth floor named after artist and art patron Jaime Zobel de Ayala. It also houses one of his paintings. The space can hold other functions or serves as a waiting area for guests.

Mohnani shared his enthusiasm for the Cua Patrons Lounge on the seventh floor. The lounge is strategically located with its glass wall allowing guests to look on at the events at the main hall. It can also be used as a VIP lounge or venue of a presscon for visiting artists. A dinner table that sits 20 can be set-up for intimate occasions complete with a personal butler.

Ayala Land Vice President and Estate Head of Makati, Mel Ignacio

The Cua Patrons Lounge is a few steps away from the 1,500-seater auditorium. It leads to the loge section. The other two sections are the orchestra and balcony.
As a seasoned dance artist who has performed in Russia and the United States, Mohnani shared that the loge has the best seats because it gives the best view.

"To me, personally the loge area is the best seat in the house because you see the entire stage. The practice in most places is that when you're watching a big production, say, it's a musical, or a ballet, or a symphony, you want to see everything and this one allows you to do that," he explained.

Each level — from the orchestra to the balcony floors — has its concession area and restrooms to accommodate guests.  The concessionaires are staffed by Chef Gilbert Pangilinan of Kai Restaurant.

Mohnani also shared about a revolutionary feature in the history of performing stages in the country. The Samsung Performing Arts Theater is the only one in the country that features the Harlequin sprung floors. It is a special type of flooring that reduces the risk of dancers from getting injured through impact, slipping, or falling. Apart from this feature, the theater has its own Rehearsal Hall with dimensions as big as the actual performance stage.

More shows

The theater was supposed to open in June 2020 with shows such as the musical "Oliver" based on the famous Charles Dickens novel and the musical "On Your Feet" featuring music by Gloria Estefan. It was also supposed to feature the local production of "The Bodyguard" musical. The opening was canceled due to the pandemic. Two years later, the theater scene is slowly coming back alive.

Mohnani shared they had soft launch events held at the theater before last week's media preview. They already hosted a packed comedy show, a symphony orchestra, a Father's Day show, and a ballet recital featuring Sofia Elizalde Zobel's dance studio.

He shared that their schedule is actually full since they announced that they are finally opening. They have been talking to a lot of local productions and theater companies for a possible collaboration.

When asked what he likes to see on their stage, he shared that he'd like to see the musical "Hamilton" and Filipino-American comedian Jokoy performing on stage.

He stressed that the newly-launched theater will always be open for theater companies and performing artists.

"We want to be open and accommodating to everybody. So there's really no set residents or artists-in-residence or company-in- residence," Mohnani shared.

He added, "We want to be a place for everybody whether you are a foreign musical, a long-running local production, or an independent artist that wants to have a space that you did not have before."




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