Christian. Tony in West Side Story? I'm sure I'm not the only one who's found himself wondering whether Christian Bautista has what it takes to ace the part in Stages' forthcoming production of the classic Bernstein-Sondheim musical. Recently, he tried to answer that question when he sang Maria--unaided by a microphone--before an audience of show buyers. Lorna aka The Bachelor Girl has the video. For this swooningly melodic number, Mr. Bautista was in full romantic throttle, his sleek pop voice now invested with more-than-usual strength, ardor and urgency. Vocally, at least, he sounded good and capable, though it's also fair to point out that he missed a note--the crucial peak of the “Maria, Maria, Maria” repetitions (at 2:00 in the video clock). So, looks, height and bearing--check. Vocals--check, with a bit more practice. Acting--that we're looking forward to seeing. Could be, who knows...
Khavn. Noted indie filmmaker Khavn de la Cruz isn't only into movies these days, he's also into... musical theater. He's debuting Newtopia, a rock opera that he wrote the music and libretto to, at the CCP on June 28, 6:30 p.m., as part of the Virgin Labfest. The cast is made up of Tanghalang Pilipino actors, with live music by Khavn's band, choreography by Donna Miranda and set design by Lena Cobangbang. It's the only musical-theater piece in the Labfest, and an original work at that (plus it's rock!), so do include this in your Labfest schedule.
Ching. Ching is Ching Valdes-Aran, the Obie-award-winning Fil-American actress whose formidable credits include starring in the Ma-Yi Theater Company production of Ralph Pena's Flipzoids and playing Imelda Marcos in the Broadway staging of Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters (a “chillingly imperious caricature,” noted the NYTimes' Bruce Weber). If you're a theater buff like me, you'd have spotted Ms. Valdes-Aran as well in Sex and the City, in a very brief part--but still... She's the arch, icy real-estate agent wearing Chanel and pearls in the early part of the movie, when Carrie and Mr. Big first chance upon their dream apartment--the one who says, eyebrows flung high and voice thick with malice, “They're not married.” Okay, so I hated the movie, but kudos to it for displaying more diversity in its casting choices. Note that the TV series, too, had another Fil-Am actor, Jose Llana (Wang Ta to Lea Salonga's Mei Li in the Broadway “revisal” of Flower Drum Song), appearing in some episodes. Oh, and Ms. Valdes-Aran was also in the Julie Taymor phantasmagoria Across the Universe.
Chenes. In the last two years of the Virgin Labfest, I'd made it a point to write an omnibus review of the plays at the conclusion of the festival. This year, I feel bad that I won't be able to do this. In fact, I might miss most of the plays altogether. I'm being sent on a foreign trip right when the festival is in full swing, with only about a couple of days before and after my departure to catch whatever's playing at the CCP. It's a tight fix--missing the Labfest has consequences that also extend to my cherished jury duties for the Philstage awards, but I can't forego the trip, either, or I might not have the same chance again. For this year, then, no Labfest review from me, though I'm hoping someone else--or more than one!--would step up to the plate. How about it, bloggers? Watch watch watch the Labfest, and write write write about it!