A few weeks ago some members of the cast met the press to render some songs and answer questions about the forthcoming show. Present were Tommy Abuel, Michael Williams, Jamie Wilson, Julia Abueva, Joaqui Valdes, Lynn Sherman, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Cathy Azanza, Mads Nicolas, Crisel Consunji, and director Rito Asilo.
Facing the pack: Tommy Abuel getting grilled before the TV cameras by ABS-CBN's Mario Dumaual and GMA-7's Lhar Santiago, among others
Ignorant me headed straight for Mr. Abuel after the short presentation and began asking about this being some sort of comeback for him. I meant to musical theater--I've not seen him that frequently on stage, the last one in a poorly-mounted amateur production of Frank Rivera's environmental play “Ambon, Ulan, Baha” at SM Megamall early this year. Mr. Abuel very gently and courteously swatted me down, telling me that he's never actually left the theater, only that he's become identified with his more visible work on TV and the movies. Then he rattled off the musical productions he's done: “West Side Story,” “Showboat,” “Brigadoon,” “Carousel,” “Finian's Rainbow,” “The King & I.” He was, in fact, the country's first Pippin.
“Into The Woods,” though, is the first time he's doing Sondheim. “Very difficult music!,” he said. Is there a secret to doing Sondheim? “The secret is to be musical--to listen and have a sharp ear for his music,” he said. A simple answer, but one that carries an entire universe with it, given the composer's formidable reputation for writing some of the trickiest, most challenging and unconventional works in musical theater. Mr. Abuel, one of the country's most accomplished actors, is set to play the Mysterious Man in this production. We're in for a treat, I think.
PLUS: The nifty artwork with Mr. Abuel's image above? It's a desktop wallpaper designed by Amiel of NVC. Here are more of them. The ones on Amiel's site come with lovely frames for a more fairy-tale look. They're free for downloading and sharing with friends, by the way.