Before the Philippine Opera Company’s excellent if short-lived staging of “Master Class” in October, [Cherie] Gil had only done two productions--Atlantis Productions’ “Doubt” and Rep’s “The Sound of Music,” both in 2006.
She was riveting in “Doubt” but finally overwhelming in “Master Class,” offering a haunting, crystalline performance that, with barely a raised voice, branded the role of a ruined Maria Callas as hers--spectacularly, indisputably hers--for many moons to come.
In a year of bold star turns, hers had the unique distinction of effacing the image of Gil the movie star, enshrining in its place Gil the consummate theater actress. Lavinia had become La Divina.
-- “The seniors strike back”, December 8, 2008
Best Actress-Play: Cherie Gil (“Master Class”). The glamorous actress had a tricky high-wire act to do: play Maria Callas as a character, not an impersonation, while casting off her own outsize persona as the local movies’ eminent queen of mean. She delivered--nay, conquered.
-- “Bravo! Best of Theater 2008”, December 15, 2008. [Master Class, directed by Michael Williams, was also a nominee in the Best Play/Full-Length section.]
Cherie Gil (Philippine Opera Company’s “Master Class”): For two hours every night for five nights last October, Gil, only in her third major theater outing, seemed absolutely possessed by the ghost of the diva-in-decline Maria Callas. So fine-grained was her disappearing act that you completely forgot she had, beyond the footlights, her own iconic persona--THE Cherie Gil of Philippine movies.
-- “12 best theater performances of the year”, December 28, 2008
Obviously, this was a performance and a play I couldn't praise highly enough. Now, starting July 29 until August 15, the brilliant Terrence McNally paean to art and art-making as embodied by one of the greatest creative spirits of all time returns to the RCBC stage for only 10 performances. And Cherie Gil, she of the vanishing breed of true movie stars with the flair, elan and larger-than-life presence to match their exalted status (really, watch the video below and see who else among today's so-called celebrities could evoke, or pull off, that grand manner of hers so naturally) is back as La Divina.
Michael Williams once more directs, with a supporting cast that includes classical performers Juan Alberto Gaerlan, Al Gatmaitan, Florence Aguilar, Ana Feleo, Kay Balajadia-Liggayu and Francis Amora. For tickets, call the Philippine Opera Company 8928786 or 8817168, Ticketworld 8919999 or visit www.philippineoperacompany.com
PLUS: Me videotaping Cherie's turn at the podium during the press meet-up. Photo courtesy of Girlie Rodis.
PLUS PLUS: “Truth or consequence”--my review of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt, staged by Atlantis Productions in 2006 with Cherie Gil playing “that Rottweiler in a wimple,” Sr. Aloysius.