Tony Espejo, Artistic Director of Gantimpala Theater announces that “Our 34th season’s first touring production is 'Sino Ka Ba, Jose Rizal?' We are producing this in cooperation with Musical Theater Philippines. Gerald Santos and RJ Jimenez will alternately portray the role of our national hero.”
“It is fitting to stage this musical now. We can learn so much from his history, most especially the great relationships he had with his mother Doña Teodora, brother Paciano and sisters; his devotion to the academe and the ardor for the written word; the romances that added color to his years and the nationalistic fervor he had for the country and how he stirred the consciousness of his fellowmen through his novels, 'Noli Me Tangere' and 'El Filibusterismo'.”
“We are very fortunate that two of the country’s finest singers are playing the lead,” adds Espejo. “Gerald, the balladeer, is visceral in his portrayal, while RJ, the acoustic artist, invests a lot of refreshing emotions in his interpretation.”
“Being part of a theater production is like attending a performing arts class,” says the theater first-timer. “Every day there is something new to learn, from memorizing your lines and blockings. There is also the choreography and songs you must remember. There is something so vibrant about the dynamics of theater actors. Lahat sila disiplinado. At sobra silang matilungin sa katulad kong baguhan sa teatro.”
“I am very happy for the opportunity to play Dr. Rizal,” says Santos, now a TV5 talent. “I will not deny that at first, it made me very nervous because we all know how larger-than-life is his persona. So on my part, I did a lot of research, read materials about him para naman mas kilala ko na siya. Another fear was, my forte is pop so ibang-iba yung discipline to do musical-theater numbers. Pasalamat ako talaga sa vocal coach at co-actors ko. Working with Gantimpala Theater is an experience I will always treasure. This musical made me realize how much Dr. Rizal loved our country in particular and his country men in general. We must continue to keep his legacy burning, knowing the fact that the problems that were evident during his times persist.”
“Literally, my jaw dropped when they said to me I am doing Rizal; para siyang ‘whoa’ moment!” says the guitarist and singer. “When the shock faded, my first concern was, am I vocally equipped to do this, and secondly, paano ko bibigyan ng buhay ang Pambansang Bayani, I am no way near how he looks!”
“Just like Gerald, thankful ako kay teacher Agnes (Barredo) because she was able to teach me techniques on how to properly use my voice. Ngayon nga when I do recordings for jingles, pansin ko, my voice is fuller, stronger.”
“Being Rizal is emotionally taxing especially when all the conflicts of his life happen and these emotions are very new to me. Sobrang thankful ako sa director namin, lalo na kay Sir Tony at kay Allain, the associate director, kasi ang tiyaga nila, they really bring out our best... Now that I have done Rizal, I realize that we can all follow his footsteps. True, they are such big shoes to fill. Nevertheless, we must really do something for our country. Bayan natin ito. Dapat magtulong-tulong tayo para mas maging masagana at maligaya ang buhay nating lahat.”
TV actress Kathleen Hermosa essays the role of Josephine Bracken, while theater newbie Ellrica Laguardia plays Leonor Rivera. Playing the elder brother Paciano is veteran theater actor Ronald Concepcion. Comedienne and singer Kakai Bautista portrays Neneng, Rizal’s sister, and O-sei-san, the Japanese girlfriend.
Assisting Espejo are Nonoy Gallardo (book, music and libretto); Gean Allain de Leon (associate director); Joey Nombres (lights designer); Eric Cruz(set designer); Raul Nepomuceno Jr. (choreographer); Agnes Barredo (vocal coach); April Anne Dolot (stage manager); and Del Cayetano (production manager).
Performances are on September 3, 10 a.m./2 p.m., EXPO Filipino, Pampanga; September 23, 10 a.m./2 p.m., Ynares Gym, Antipolo; and October 14-15, 10 a.m./2 p.m., AFP Theater in Quezon City.
For more information, call the Gantimpala Theater Office 8995911/9985622 or visit www.gantimpalatheater.multiply.com or www.facebook.com/gantimpala