From Hamilton’s Asian premiere to Ang Huling El Bimbo The Musical comeback, here are some of the theater productions you should not miss.
As the societal conditions continue to improve and as we try to move forward and leave the idea of lockdowns and isolation in the past, certain industries are getting their mojo back. The 2022 Metro Manila Film Festival hitting those millions is a fitting case in point. People can now go back to enjoying the communal hobbies with less hesitations and skepticism than before. Another creative sector greatly and rightfully benefiting from this is the Filipino theater scene. This year, the curtains have been raised as a diverse and colorful array of offerings from theater companies and production houses is set to surely revitalize the Philippine stage. Below are some of the enchanting musicals and exhilarating revivals that will make your 2023 extraordinary.
ZSAZSA ZATURNNAH THE MUSICAL…’YUN LANG!
The red-haired and proudly queer superheroine ZsaZsa Zaturnnah will have a fabulous comeback as the Ateneo Blue Repertory restages the hit musical with Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah The Musical…’Yun Lang! The premier musical theater organization of the Ateneo de Manila University, blueREP will breathe new life into Carlo Vergara’s popular and award-winning graphic novel Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah, which was first published in 2002. Tanghalang Pilipino then first adapted it to a musical play entitled ZsaZsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal and was staged nine times since its premiere in 2005.
The blueREP production will be directed by Missy Maramara, with music, lyrics, and musical direction by Vincent A. De Jesus and stage adaptation by Chris Martinez. Rak of Aegis alum Kim Molina will play the titular character while Phi Palmos, Adrian Lindayag, and Shaun Ocrisma will alternate as the parlorista protagonist Ada. Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah The Musical…’Yun Lang! will fly in March 2023 and headline blueREP’s 31st founding anniversary. Meanwhile, to start imbibing ZsaZsa’s spirit, you can listen to the recording of the original cast of Zsazsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal on Spotify. You’re welcome.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines’ resident theater company, Tanghalang Pilipino, has prepared an exciting slate of theatrical productions this year with three captivating stage plays to wrap up its 36th season. First staged in 2017, Ang Pag-uusig returns to the CCP’s Tanghalang Ignacio Gomez and features the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors Company. Ang Pag-uusig is an adaptation of the Arthur Miller classic The Crucible courtesy of the translation by Dr. Jerry Respeto. Directed by Dennis Marasigan, the play will run from February 17 to March 12, 2023.
Another Tanghalang Pilipino production coming to the CCP is Nekropolis, an original play co-written by Guelan Varela-Luarca with the Tanghalang PIlipino Actors Company. With direction by Charles Yee, at the core of Nekropolis is the examination of death and power in the past six years. It will also grace the stage of the CCP Black Box Theater and will run from April 14-30, 2023. A rerun of the award-winning Tausug play Anak Datu by Rody Vera’s will also happen in June. Follow Tanghalang Pilipino’s social media page for more information. You can also avail of their season pass through here.
Fall in love with KDLex once more as they make their theater debut in Philippine Educational Theater Association’s (PETA) restaging of Walang Aray. First shown in 2019 as part of the PETA Lab, Walang Aray is a contemporized adaptation of Severino Reyes’ classic zarzuela, Walang Sugat, that will be top-billed by 2022’s breakout love team KD Estrada and Alexa Ilacad. Co-presented by Indie.Go Media, the PETA production features a gripping and irreverent premise that’s about love and war.
The musical is written by the award-winning playwright Rody Vera and directed by Ian Segarra, with musical direction by Vince Lim. KDLex will alternate with theater triple threats and Walang Aray original leads Marynor Madamesilla and Gio Gahol (who’s also the play’s choreographer). Jarred Jaicten, Kiki Baento, Carlon Matobato, Gie Onida at Norbs Portales, Neomi Gonzales, and John Emmanoel Moran also join the ensemble. Catch them live on May 14, 2023 as Walang Aray charms your hearts at PETA-Phinma Theater in Quezon City. Follow PETA’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages for more updates and future announcements.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
One of the most popular and well-loved musicals of all time, Rodgers and Hammersteins’ The Sound of Music brings its melodious glory to Manila this year. The local staging of the multiple Tony and GRAMMY-winning Broadway musical is made possible by GMG Productions in partnership with Broadway International Group and Broadway Asia.
As you already know, The Sound of Music follows Maria, the fun-loving governess who changed the lives of the widowed Captain Von Trapp and his seven children through music with the backdrop of the Second World War. The beloved musical will be directed by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien. And with an all-Broadway team, you have all the reasons to catch The Sound of Music on March 7-26, 2023, at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater in Makati City. Head on to GMG Productions’ social media page to know more about the tickets and schedule.
ANG HULING EL BIMBO THE MUSICAL
Yes, Full Theater House Company will bring the EHeads fever back to The Newport Performing Arts Theater this year with Ang Huling El Bimbo The Musical 2023. Ever since the musical’s 2019 NPAT production got streamed by ABS-CBN Entertainment, the hype and the love for El Bimbo has never wavered, hence its satisfying comeback. Featuring timeless classics from the nation’s most influential band, The Eraserheads, Ang Huling El Bimbo The Musical is written by Dingdong Novenario and will be directed and choreographed once more by Dexter M. Santos.
With additional scenes and dialogue by Floy Quintos and Myke Salomon’s musical arrangements, El Bimbo 2023 will see a mix of familiar and fresh faces on-stage. Gab Pangilinan, Gian Magdangal, and Topper Fabregas will reprise their lead roles as Young Joy, Hector, and Young Anthony, respectively. They will be joined by newcomers Nino Alejandro (Anthony), Bullet Dumas (Emman), Anthony Rosaldo (Young Hector), Paw Castillo (Young Emman) and Katrine Sunga (Joy). You’ll get to sing your hearts out with your favorite musical barkada when Ang Huling El Bimbo runs this coming April.
Oh how lucky Filipino Hamilfans are to be alive right now as Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Tony®, Grammy®, Olivier and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Hamilton is set to have its Asian premiere in Manila this year. In an announcement video posted by GMG Productions, Manuel-Miranda delights many Filipino fans as he reveals that his universally acclaimed and groundbreaking show will start its Philippine run in September at The Theater at Solaire. We know you’ve been waiting on the wings for this so don’t throw away your shot and head over to this link for more details about this history-making event.
To celebrate Pride Month, Barefoot Theatre Collaborative (producer of Mula sa Buwan) opens its 2023 season with Pride Plays, a platform that puts the spotlight on LGBTQIA+ stories. For the queers and their peers, this year’s Pride Plays features Mikaela Regis’s sapphic love story Unica Hijas and Floy Quintos’s Laro, which probes gay relationships “through a merry-go-round of love, desire, and lust.” This is a twinbill production which means you’ll only be needing one ticket to watch both plays. Pride Plays will have a three-weekend run this month starting on June 10, Saturday, at the PMC Spotlight Blackbox Theater in Circuit Makati. Grab your tickets here!
The nation’s premier leading man, Piolo Pascual, is set to grace the stage in his first foray into musical theater with Ibarra. Based on Jose Rizal’s canonical novel, Noli Me Tangere, Ibarra will be brought to life by Tanghalang Una Obra and will showcase a repertoire of 37 original songs. Directed by Frannie Zamora and penned by Jomar Fleras, with music by Joed Balsamo, Ibarra will run from June 8-18, 2023 at the GSIS Theater, CCP Complex.
Held every year, The Virgin Labfest (VLF) is a theater-centric festival that lends a space to the “untried, untested and unstaged plays.” Celebrating its 18th year, this year’s edition is titled VLF: Hitik, and just as the title itself suggests, the fest is brimming with stories to satisfy all of your theatrical cravings.
With 12 new one-act plays, 3 restaged plays from last year’s edition, and 4 new staged readings, the 18th Virgin Labfest promises to be a haven for all the Pinoy theater nerds out there. Add to that the VLF Fellowship Program, the VLF Playwrights Fair, and the Theater Talks, which all add another insightful layer to this event.
The 18th Virgin Labfest happens at the CCP Black Box Theater, from June 7-25, 2023, and is organized by Cultural Center of the Philippines, The Writer’s Bloc, and Tanghalang Pilipino. Follow The Virgin Labfest’s Facebook page for more information and announcement about this year’s edition. Meanwhile, you can now book your tickets here.
Ballet Philippines, the leading contemporary dance company in the country, is also set to open its 54th season with Coppelia. Based on stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann and originally choreographed in 1870, Coppelia is a comic ballet that follows the story of a mad scientist enamoured by the eponymous mechanical doll. “Coppelia is a celebration of life,” shares Ballet Philippines’ artistic director Mikhail Martynyuk in an interview, while also highlighting the ballet’s love story that “we can all relate to.” Coppelia will run for three days from August 4 – 6, 2023 at the Theatre at Solaire. Get your tickets here.