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THE theater, dance, and music scene last year was vibrant and jampacked, and it seems that 2024 will be no different. Here are some shows that will keep calendars full this year.
FATEJAN. 12The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) starts off the year with an evening of classical mastery. For Fate, its 5th concert in its 39th season which started last year, the PPO will perform Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.4 Op. 36 in F minor and Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 15 in D minor under the baton of Grzegorz Nowak. American pianist Jerome Rose will be the guest soloist for this symphonic journey. The concert will take place at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater in Circuit Makati.
KUMPRONTASYONJAN. 18 – 21PETA Plus will start the year with Kumprontasyon, a revival of one-act plays that previously ran as a thesis by director Melvin Lee in September. The three plays, which challenge the audience to confront the country’s unresolved historical past, will be shown this month at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City.
Kumprontasyon includes Lakambini by Allan Palileo, featuring performances by Sherry Lara and Teroy Guzman, The Impossible Dream by Guelan Luarca, featuring performances by Romnick Sarmenta and Ron Capinding, and A Color for Tomorrow by Joshua Lim So, featuring performances by Missy Maramara, Adrienne Vergara, Gillian Vicencio, Eric Dela Cruz, and Carlon Matobato.
PRINSIPE BAHAGHARIJAN. 19 – 28Mulat Theater’s Prinsipe Bahaghari, Vladimeir Gonzales’ Filipino puppet adaptation of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, will be returning to the stage this month. Directed by Aina Ramolete, the puppet play revolves around the journey of the Rainbow Prince who is in search of a companion who would help him in caring for his flower, the Gumamela, in his home planet.
This adaptation has puppets made from rattan and uses Filipino culture and language to make the play accessible to children. The January run will be staged at the PowerMac Center Spotlight Blackbox Theater of Circuit Makati.
JOY AND DALOYJAN. 27The Daloy Dance Company and Joy Alpuerto Ritter are bringing Joy and Daloy to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) stage in a one-night-only show. The twin-bill production will feature the dances ItikLandia and BABAE, showcasing a mix of creative choreography, explorations of compelling themes, and fusions of traditional Filipino elements with contemporary expressions.
The show aims to help foster a deeper appreciation for contemporary dance. It will take place at the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez (CCP Black Box Theater) at the CCP Complex in Pasay City.
HERO ZJANUARY TO MAYThe Philippine Stagers Foundation is currently touring a historical fiction musical with zombies nationwide. Hero Z, written and directed by the multi-awarded film and theater director Vince Tañada, features music by composer Pipo Cifra. It stars Johnrey Rivas, Vean Olmedo, Adelle Ibarrientos, Gerald Magallanes, Oj Arci, Jp Lopez, Chin Ortega, Rotsen Etolle, Bea Martin, and Fidel Redado.
The musical looks at the struggles of four friends whose lives are juxtaposed with those of heroes Bonifacio, Rizal, Kudarat, and Mabini, as they fight modern ills of a dystopic place and time. The musical will be staged in various venues across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
PIANO RAPTUREFEB. 9Celebrity pianist Krystian Zimerman will take center stage in the PPO’s 6th concert for its 39th season, Piano Rapture, on Feb. 9.
Grzegrz Nowak will conduct the orchestra as they perform Stanislaw Moniuszko’s The Fairy Tale Overture, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 4, op. 58, G major, and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony no. 2 op. 27. The concert will take place at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater in Circuit Makati.
RAMA, HARIFEBRUARYAlice Reyes Dance Philippines’ ballet Rama, Hari, which ran at The Metropolitan Theater and at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater last September, will have a rerun in February. The modern rock opera-ballet is a collaboration of five National Artists and an adaptation of the epic Sanskrit poem “Ramayana.”
The production features popular singers and incorporates traditional theater, song, and dance devices found and shared among Asian nations. Returning cast members have yet to be announced.
THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEEFEBRUARY – MARCHThe Sandbox Collective’s 10th anniversary season begins with The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, an award-winning Broadway musical about an eclectic group of six mid-pubescents who vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime.
The musical will be under the direction of Missy Maramara, with SPIT’s Dingdong Rosales as assistant director and Rony Fortich as musical director. It will run from February to March at the PowerMac Center Spotlight Theater, Circuit Makati.
DON PASQUALEMARCH 8Don Pasquale, the PPO’s penultimate concert of the season, will focus on the magic of opera. It will be a semi-staged opera performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale as the orchestra plays under the guidance of Grzergorz Nowak. The performance will take place at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater in Circuit Makati.
BETRAYALMARCH 1 – 17An acclaimed play by British theater icon and Nobel Prize winner in Literature Harold Pinter will be making its Manila premiere this March. Repertory Philippines will be mounting the production at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of RCBC Plaza in Makati.
The cast features London-based Filipino actors James Bradwell, James Cooney, and Vanessa White, with Jef Flores and Regina De Vera as covers. The production employs a reverse-chronological structure to examine the consequences of an extramarital affair on three complex individuals. The production will be directed by Manila-born and New York and London-based actor and theater director Victor Lirio.
PINGKIAN: ISANG MUSIKALMARCH 1 – 24Tanghalang Pilipino’s final production of its 37th season is the debut of Pingkian: Isang Musikal, an exploration of the life of Emilio Jacinto as the Philippine revolution ends and leads up to the start of the Philippine-American war.
The musical will star Vic Robinson as Emilio Jacinto and Gab Pangilinan as his wife, Catalina de Jesus. It will be directed by Jenny Jamora, with a book by Juan Ekis and music by Ejay Yatco, who also serves as musical director.
MISS SAIGONMARCH 23 – MAY 5GMG Productions will bring the touring production of Miss Saigon to the Theatre at Solaire from March 23 to May 5. The new production is directed by Laurence Connor, featuring a musical staging by Bob Avian with extra choreography by Geoffrey Garratt. The musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg features lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boublil. The cast has yet to be announced.
FETE FRANCAISEAPRIL 19The PPO’s 39th season shall culminate with its eighth concert, Fete Francaise, on April 19. The orchestra will perform a commissioned Filipino work, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, op. 28, and Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis & Chloé, Suites 1 & 2.
Violinist Diomedes Saraza will be the guest performer and Grzegorz Nowak will conduct the orchestra. The concert will take place at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater in Circuit Makati.
ONE MORE CHANCE THE MUSICALAPRILPETA has announced that it will be staging One More Chance the Musical, featuring the music of Ben&Ben, this April at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City. The story, based on a 2007 Star Cinema film of the same name, follows two college sweethearts who face the challenges of adult life and their tumultuous romantic journey, including struggles, conflicts, and an eventual breakup.
The announcement was made by Ben&Ben at the closing night curtain call of PETA’s production of Walang Aray in October. The stage adaptation of the film will serve as the theater company’s season ender.
KUNG PAANO NANALO SA KARERA SI ROSANG TABAAPRILDulaang UP’s Kung Paano Nanalo sa Karera si Rosang Taba, based on a short story by Dean Francis Alfar, is returning this April.
Adapted by Rody Vera and Maynard Manansala, directed by Jose Estrella, and starring Kiki Baento in the titular role, the play was initially staged at the University Theater Main Stage of UP Diliman in March and April of 2023. More details on the rerun have yet to be announced.
I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGEJUNE 7 TO 30Repertory Philippines will be bringing another Off-Broadway musical to RCBC Plaza’s Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium this year. Written by Joe Di Pietro (book and lyrics) and Jimmy Roberts (music), I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is a series of vignettes on love and relationships involving a wide cast of characters, ranging from big-city singles and awkward wallflowers to suburban settlers and sassy seniors. They will all be played by a cast of four.
The show will be directed by Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, with Cara Barredo as assistant director. Also in the creative team are Ejay Yatco (musical direction) and Joey Mendoza (set design).
PATINTERO SA AYALA AVENUEJUNEWritten and directed by Rafael Jimenez, a new original Filipino play entitled Patintero sa Ayala Avenue will be staged by CAST PH — best known for their staged readings — in June at a venue that has yet to be announced.
The story centers on a 16-year-old boy who is kicked out of school and has a night on the town in Makati’s Poblacion to find out what happens to the lights on Ayala Avenue after Christmas. The show will star Zoë de Ocampo.
VIRGIN LABFESTJUNECCP’s annual theater festival Virgin Labfest (VLF), which is usually held around June, selected 12 one-act plays for its 19th edition this year. The 12 untried, untested, and unstaged plays were selected from 145 submissions received early last year.
The selection committee was composed of festival directors Tess Jamias and Marco Viaña, together with VLF founders Writers Bloc Inc.’s Rody Vera and director-playwright Herbie Go.
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORSJULY – AUGUSTThe Sandbox Collective will be staging the sci-fi musical Little Shop of Horrors, which is one of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows. The tongue-in-cheek comedy has been produced worldwide and will make its return to the Philippine stage under the direction of the theater group’s Managing Artistic Director, Toff De Venecia, with musical direction by pianist and musical director Ejay Yatco.
It will run from July to August at the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
OTHELLOOCTOBERThe second play in CAST PH’s season is Shakespeare’s Othello, which will be directed by the company’s artistic director Nelsito Gomez. The production will star Tarek El Tayech as Othello, Gab Pangilinan as Desdemona, Maronne Cruz as Emilia, and Reb Atadero as Iago.
One of William Shakespeare’s renowned tragedies, believed to have been written around 1603, the play is set in Venice and the island of Cyprus, and revolves around themes of jealousy, manipulation, and racism. Further details on this particular staging like the full cast, venue, and ticketing details have yet to be announced.
TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGSNOVEMBERThe Sandbox Collective will conclude its 2024 season with the Manila premiere of Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the bestselling book by Cheryl Strayed and adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos. Recently released as a limited TV series starring Kathryn Hahn, Tiny Beautiful Things is a play about reaching when you’re stuck, healing when you’re broken, and finding the courage to take on the questions that have no answers.
The show is set to be directed by Jenny Jamora. It will have a three-week limited engagement in November at the Zobel De Ayala Recital Hall, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, BGC, Taguig.
GOING HOME TO CHRISTMASNOVEMBER – DECEMBERRepertory Philippines will cap the season with Going Home to Christmas, an original jukebox musical featuring the music of Jose Mari Chan, whose name has become synonymous with Christmas. It will be directed by Leo Rialp, and written by Robbie Guevara, Luna Griño-Inocian, and Joel Trinidad, with additional scenes by Cathy Azanza-Dy.
Though the story is still being written, Ms. Griño-Inocian teased that it centers on four relationships between father and son, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend. “It is set in an airport because everyone is going home to Christmas,” she said. “It’s sort of like Love Actually except it’s very Pinoy in sentiment and a lot of the stories will sound familiar.”
SHOWS WITH DATES TO BE ANNOUNCEDJonathan Larson’s beloved musical Rent will be restaged this year by 9 Works Theatrical, following the company’s staging of Larsen’s other work tick, tick… BOOM! in 2023. Auditions for Rent were held last September, so casting announcements will be coming soon. The musical was last staged in the Philippines in 2010 and 2011.
Another original jukebox musical is coming to the Newport World Resorts stage this year. Buruguduystunstugudunstuy: Ang Parokya ni Edgar Musical will be performed at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, with a cast led by Felicity Kyle Napuli, Marynor Madamesila, Tex Ordoñez-De Leon, and Natasha Cabrera. It is directed by Dexter M. Santos, with a book by Rody Vera and musical direction and arrangement by Ejay Yatco.
Finally, there is Repertory Theater for Young Audiences’ (RTYA) offering this year: Jepoy and the Magic Circle. An adaptation of a children’s story by Gilda Cordero Fernando, the light-hearted musical centers on Jepoy and his dog, Galis, as they enter the whimsical balete world to attend a tikbalang wedding. The adaptation will be directed by RTYA creative director Joy Virata and written by Rody Vera, with music and lyrics by Ejay Yatco. — Brontë H. Lacsamana