Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cocoy Laurel, Cris Villonco et al sing songs from Simon's Way, a new original Filipino musical

Theater biggie Cocoy Laurel, absent from the local stage for quite some time now, is returning to the boards via a new original Filipino musical called Simon's Way, a “faith-based” production (for lack of a better description) that aims to harness the tropes of musical theater--interspersed with film, hence it's also being touted as a “cine-musical”--to pay tribute to that icon of the Bicolano faith, the Our Lady of Peñafrancia. The production's proceeds will then be used to help the poor parishes in the Archdiocese of Caceres in Naga City, where the inspiration for this musical had its roots.

This early, Simon's Way--an independent effort originating outside Manila--has managed a coup of sorts by bagging not only Laurel, one of local theater's biggest names (and illustrious exports, Laurel having played The Engineer in Miss Saigon-London at one point), but also other accomplished performers such as Cris Villonco, Jenine Desiderio, Jon Joven, Nicole Laurel-Asencio, Raymond Roldan (a Bicolano tenor--you should hear the guy's voice!), the Manila Symphony Orchestra conducted by Prof. Arturo Molina, and Fides Cuyugan-Asencio in a special cameo role.

Laurel, asked what made him accept the role, said that when he listened to the music (by tubong-Naga composer-lyricist-director Ferdinand Dimadura), it spoke to him. Also, he said he decided to offer his performances in the show as a prayer for his mother, eminent actress Celia Diaz-Laurel, who is set to undergo yet one more operation on her knees. He joined Villonco, Desiderio and Roldan recently in performing four songs from the musical for the press.

More from the press announcement:

“Simon's Way” is an original Filipino “cine-musical” with book, music, lyrics and direction by Ferdinand Dimadura, featuring the country’s top artists led by Cocoy Laurel, Cris Villonco, Jenine Desiderio, Jon Joven, Nicole Laurel-Asencio and the Manila Symphony Orchestra conducted by Prof. Arturo Molina. A member of the clergy, Fr. Fidel Bagayaua, is also part of the cast. Fides Cuyugan-Asencio appears in a special cameo role.

“Simon's Way” will have a one-night benefit gala on April 19, 2011, Tuesday, 8 p.m., at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila, Pasay City.

Called a “cine-musical” because it is interspersed with film, the musical is a tribute to the Our Lady of Peñafrancia, and the devotion she has inspired for generations among the Bicolano faithful. It tells the story of a Franciscan brother named Simon Vela who said he was chosen by the Virgin Mary to search for her missing image. For five years, Vela searched every mountain and cave in Western France only to find the missing statue in the mountain of the Peña de Francia near Salamanca, Spain in the year 1434. Almost four hundred years later, Father Miguel Cobarrubias would bring the devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia to Naga City.

Through the guidance and support of Leonardo Z. Legazpi, Archbishop of Caceres, “Simon's Way” hopes to further propagate and increase the devotion of Filipinos to Our Lady of Peñafrancia in honor of her 300th anniversary. The production also aims to raise funds to help poor parishes, their priests and respective barangays under the Archdiocese of Caceres.

“Simon's Way” will also feature Bicolano tenor Raymond Roldan together with violin prodigy Jelyn Oliva. Choral music will be performed by the internationally-awarded University of Northeastern Philippines Chorale under conductor Adrian Argete. Singing priest and composer Father Louan Jarcia will perform “Ave Maria,” while Gigi Velarde-David's choreography will be performed by the ACAT Dancers from University of Santa Isabel.

To help support this project, Resorts World Manila is offering a special Holy Week promotion that entitles one to a free ticket to “Kaos,” its one-of-a-kind musical spectacle, upon buying tickets to “Simon’s Way.” Ticket prices are as follows: P1,988 (Upper Balcony); P2,188 (Balcony); P2,888 (Deluxe); P3,688 (Premier); P3,888 (VIP).

Before its Manila gala, “Simon's Way” will have a special Palm Sunday promotional show at the Block, SM City North Edsa, on April 17, 2011, 4 p.m. Other dates of shows: March 24 (7 p.m.), March 25 (1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.) and March 26 (1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.) at the Universidad de Santa Isabel Auditorium, Naga City; March 28 (7 p.m.) at University of Northeastern Philippines Auditorium in Iriga City.

A special show sponsored by the City Government of Legaspi and Aquinas University will be held on May 14, 2011 (7 p.m.) at the Legaspi Astrodome.

The production team includes Ferdinand Dimadura (direction), Raymond Roldan (assistant direction), John Carl Denina (musical arrangement), Anson Peñaflor (orchestration), Adrian Argente (choral arrangement), Joy Rago (costume design), Gigi Velarde-David (choreography), Ruben Lee (cinematography), Manny Estrella (lighting design), Rollie De Leon (stage design), Jethro Joaquin (sound design), Dindin Daliva (production management), Boy Sanchez (stage management), Toots Tolentino (publicity) and Abong Gaw (Golden Touch Imaging for photography).

For tickets, inquiries and other information, call 7264422, 0916-4135108 (Cora), 0927-4730145 (Steve), 0906-5291517 (Christine), 0917-8728730 (Jake/Resorts World Manila) and 9088890 (RWM Tour Counter).

Visit www.simonswaythecinemusical.com, www.victor@cocoylaurel.com.ph, or Facebook victor@cocolaurel.com.

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