Florante at Laura is a Philippine literary classic; an "awit" made into a play and presented using the theater form of the "komedya."
Tony Espejo, artistic director, explains, "Beyond the romantic story between Florante and Laura, Aladin and Flerida, Balagtas' "awit" is a well-disguised commentary on the ills of the society during the Spanish regime. It may be situated in the fictional kingdom of Albania, but the conditions it depicts were realities taking place in the Philippines during its years of struggle for freedom. Despite the freedom that we experience now, the ills are still around and, sadly, continue to escalate. We hope the eyes and minds of the young will be opened with regard to these realities. Through this play, we hope that they become more vigilant in doing their share to make our nation great again."
For his part, Moreno says he is "excited and nervous" to do the role. "Excited because, this is my first time to work with Gantimpala Theater. When I auditioned, I had no expectations. I was willing to take any part for as long as I'd be given the chance to work with them. Being Florante comes as a really big surprise."
Another lucky first-timer is Olivar, who happens to be a professional ramp, commercial and fashion model prior to bagging the role.
She shares, "When I auditioned for Gantimpala, I was not expecting anything and I did not even expect that I will pass the audition because it is my first time. To my surprise, I got the role of Laura, and it's not just a simple role, it's a lead role. I will play Laura from the heart and I'm really positive about the outcome."
Also in the cast, representing the Christians, are Perry Escaño (Adolfo), Jose Jeffrey Camañag (Haring Linceo), Richard Manabat (Duke Briseo), Roselle Buenaventura (Reyna Floresca), Billy Parjan (Antenor), Glendel Dacumos and Alfred Urieta (alternately portraying Menandro), with Abner Delina Jr and Raymond Talavera (alternately playing Batang Florante/Tagapagsalaysay).
Playing the Moors are by Berl Angeles (Aladin), Marjorie Lorico (Flerida), Alex Guerrero (Sultan Ali-Adab), Molts Meneses (Osmalik), and Vic Ferrer (Emir).
Helping Soxie bring the kingdoms of Albania and Persia to life are Roeder Camañag (assistant director), Joseph Mattheu (lights design), Norman Peñaflorida (set design), Gardy Labad (music composer), Noel Cabangon (arranger), Nemi Pagtakhan/ Alex Guerrero (choreographers/speech coaches), Pamela Hundana (production manager), and Michael King Urieta (stage manager).
Performances are slated on August 1 (6 p.m.) Open Air Auditorium, in Luneta, Manila, August 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 (10 a.m./2 p.m.), AFP Theater in Quezon City and August 21, 22, and 23 (10 a.m./2 p.m.), SM Southmall in Las Piñas.
For information, bookings and ticket reservations, call 8995745, 8963503 or 4745198.