“First Name” features lyrics penned by veteran theater and live concert director Freddie Santos and original music contributed by highly respected OPM artists Gary Valenciano, Ogie Alcasid, Ray-Ann Fuentes, Butch Alvarez and Bob Serrano.
“First Name” is basically a musical journey through the Bible. The show’s hit song “Could You Be Messiah?” is one of the musical’s many highlights. “Could You Be Messiah?” became the first Filipino-written ditty released in the United States under an American music label. It was also used by the Billy Graham Crusade in several of its European and South American campaigns.
“When we first presented this musical in 1988, no one knew it would be the first English-language Gospel musical in the history of Philippine Theater. Critics compliment us on how the show reduced the physical size of its material’s body but enlarged the excitement on its soul with music and humor,” says Santos.
“I never thought that after nearly 20 years, I would find such great difficulty in restaging “First Name” with a young audience in mind, whose patience for a slow song demands a seat belt and stern ushers. Every day of the entire rehearsal process, we have to look for every handle meant for a young grasp—a visual, a joke, a prop, a dance move, a singing style. Something, anything,” he adds.
Supplementing the director’s young approach to this 2007 staging of “First Name,” is a young, frisky cast that includes Disney’s “High School Musical On Stage” alumni PJ Valerio, Kevin Concepcion, Fame Flores, Nelsito Gomez Marin and Kakki Teodoro. Also in the cast are Ring Antonio, JC Gotinga, Khalil Kaimo, Eric Mercado, Butch Montejo, Andrei Pamintuan and Maita Ponce.
Jeff Arcilla, DJ Myke Solomon of the Akafellas and Butch Montejo with HIWAY 69 have re-arranged some of the songs for a newer sound.
Assistant directors Bernice Aspillaga-Cañete, Johann dela Fuente and Jun Ofrasio, set designer Mio Infante, costume designer Pam Gumabon, lighting designer Joseph Matheu, vocal coach Sweet Plantado-Tiongson, choreographer Alfred Luanzon and multimedia designer GA Fallarme complete the artistic and production team.
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