Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lea, Monique, Menchu, Risa: the young cast of Rep's 1980 The Sound of Music--on video

Finally, it's on YouTube--this invaluable clip of the young cast of Repertory Philippines' 1980 production of The Sound of Music making a promotional guest appearance on the noontime TV program Student Canteen. Just look at that line-up: Menchu Lauchengco, Raymond Lauchengco, Risa Hontiveros, Javier Arriaga, Lea Salonga, Monique Wilson, Gianina Revilla and Angela Adams.

I say “Finally” because I first saw this clip back in 2006--when I interviewed Monique Wilson and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, two of the three alternating Marias (the other was Liesl Batucan) in that year's retread of The Sound of Music by Rep. Monique brought with her a VHS tape of this and other TV clips (including a similar guesting in another TV show--was it Discorama?--where their Do-Re-Mi singing went awry, eliciting much laughter from the two actresses).

Even then I was dying to borrow the tape, have it transferred to DVD and upload it to YouTube; I thought everyone should have a chance to see so rare and important an artifact. But it was their property, and I was too shy to belabor my point. We have to thank arriaga66, then (I assume he's the Javier Arriaga of the cast), for posting his copy online.

From my blog entry dated October 16, 2006:

The Batasan Hills are alive with the sound of Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel's music.

Lame pun. Can't help it, though. You see, that's Risa Hontiveros right there in the picture, third from left, decades before she became the fiery Akbayan party-list representative in Congress. Just 14 years old in 1980, she played one of Captain Von Trapp's seven children in Repertory Philippines' stellar production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's “The Sound of Music,” directed by the late Bibot Amador.

Consider the other cast members: (from left) Menchu Lauchengco (now Yulo, then 17 and playing Liesl), Raymond Lauchengco (14, honing his chops for “Bagets” and “Farewell” a few years down the road), Javier Arriaga (12), Monique Wilson (10), Lea Salonga (9), and Angela Adams (5).

Baby Barredo was Maria, Chito Ponce Enrile was Captain Von Trapp, Celia Diaz Laurel was the Baroness Schraeder, Freddy Santos was Max Detweiler, Irma Potenciano was the Mother Abbess and Audie Gemora was Rolf (the love-struck young Nazi who duets with Liesl on “I Am Sixteen”).

Amazing, isn't it?

From Monique, Menchu and the sound of Maria:

“We had 15-18 performances at the Meralco Theater,” Lauchengco-Yulo recalls. “We had no lapel mikes on, the mikes were hanging from the ceiling, and we were singing with a full orchestra! So we had to belt our heads off, and Tita Bibot (Amador, the late founding artistic director of Rep) would scream at us, ‘I cannot hear you!’”

The kids also made the rounds of TV stations to promote the show. They performed on the noontime program “Student Canteen” (which says a lot about the sea change that has engulfed pop culture; imagine an English theater group appearing on “Eat Bulaga!” or “Wowowee” today) and on the late-afternoon show “Discorama,” among others.

“I remember that, in our 1980 show, we kids had to sing a difficult version of ‘The Sound of Music’—the a cappella version with the three-part harmony,” recalls Wilson.

“All it took was for Tita Bibot to scream, ‘I’m gonna fire all of you tonight!’ and we learned it. We were in Roper’s Studio for our pictorial and we were all crying because she said we were all going to be fired! Menchu, who was our ate then, brought us to the corner and told us, ‘We have to practice, we have to practice!’ That night, during rehearsals, we were so nervous, but we got it! It was only later on I realized, nag-pictorial na tayo e, di na niya tayo pwede i-fire!”

Tita Baby had bronchitis during the opening of ‘The Sound of Music,’ but she finished the show! That was how it was,” says Lauchengco-Yulo.

More memories--from my Q&A with Monique: We were a cast of only 15 people then... I remember we had so many super-fast costume changes. One time, because we were rushing backstage, Lea and I ended up wearing one shoe each of each other’s pair. Nagkabaligtad! Sikip na sikip ako with the shoe because Lea was of a smaller size. (Laughter)

I also remember Angela Adams, she was only five at that time. One day Tita Bibot [Amador] said, “Angela, why don’t you know your lines? I’m getting tired of waiting for you to learn your lines!” And Angela said, “Tita Bibot, I don’t know how to read yet eh!” Tawa kami ng tawa! Then Tita Bibot called us and said, “Lea and Monique, go there in the corner and teach Angela her lines!” And we’d teach her, because ipa-fire din daw siya. (Laughter)

You should see the video of our TV appearances. My mom taped all these shows. Kami ni Lea, red na red ang lips namin, kasi mga nanay namin backstage made sure we had lipstick on, but Menchu had no makeup! On TV! Talagang wala kaming alam that time!” (Laughter)

And Menchu, verbatim: Those were the days! During our time isang set lang kami, we had no understudy or alternates. So kahit na burning with fever--I mean, Tita Baby [Barredo], how many times did she perform with bronchitis? In “The King and I,” she collapsed on stage right after curtain call. Junix [Inocian] did “Sweeney Todd” in crutches. He fell down the stairs during rehearsal and opened the show in a cast. Walang alternate e! (Laughter)

Si Lea [Salonga] din, kinagat na ‘yan ng aso during the dress rehearsal for “Annie,” pero kanta pa rin while crying, she didn’t stop!


beektur said...

Irma Potenciano as Mother Abbess? How could I have missed that line the first time you posted this. That great casting. Why didn't they cast Armida as Max Detweiler in 06 production?

Dennis N. Marasigan said...

great clip! thanks, gibbs! i wish there were also clips of pirates of penzance and fiddler on the roof, both with junix! you'd be surprised at who were in the cast of both then.

Olivia said...

wow, it's really amazing to watch this now. thanks for sharing!

JORI said...

Gibbs just saw this OMG this is a treasure. haha

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