By Nickie Wang/ Manila Standard Today
This year’s most anticipated and ambitious program to be produced on primetime television is the first and official localized version of the story of a fictional character created in the early 20th century.
Zorro, GMA Network’s latest addition to its strong Telebabad block, will be headlined by Richard Gutierrez playing the role of Antonio Pelaez, a nobleman and master swordsman living in the Spanish colonial era.
Gutierrez is set to charm three of the television’s hottest and equally talented young actresses: Rhian Ramos as Lolita, the ladylove of Zorro; Bianca King as Cara; and Michelle Madrigal as Juana.
According to GMA vice president for entertainment Wilma Galvante, this world-class series is shot entirely in the picturesque and Spanish-inspired location in Bagac, Bataan. She added that viewers will have a visual trip into the past with the presence of grand old-style houses, cobblestones pathways and fortifications. The scenes that feature gypsies, carnivals, circus actors, courtesans and pirates are few of the main attractions that will give the series an authentic Spanish-era feel.
Directed by distinguished directors who have helmed numerous top-rating programs in GMA: Mark Reyes, the man behind successful series Encantadia and Codename: Asero; and Dominic Zapata, the virtuoso director whose projects include Mulawin and Captain Barbell, are out to transform the Legend of Zorro into a moving tale that will captivate local audience starting today.
The masked hero
At the grand launch of the series, which was indeed a grandiose event, Richard entered the newly built state-of-the-art Studio 7 of GMA hovering across the venue through a harness connected to a cable. He then gave the entertainment press a peek of what kind of action viewers can expect from the action-packed made-for-television program.
“Our main goal is not to surpass what the original Zorro did. We just want him to look like a Pinoy. With the help and cooperation of the whole team, I think we are on the right track,” Richard related when he was flanked by the press.
Richard will be seen carrying a long, slender, two-edged sword throughout the series, as he reprises the role of the masked hero.
According to the actor, although he knows how to ride a horse, he had to undergo training in horseback riding to prepare for the role. Just like the whole cast, he also had Spanish lessons to prepare his tongue in pronouncing foreign words included in the script. As part of the preparation, the actor even studied fencing that primed him for difficult skirmishing stunts.
The blazing ‘Z’ mark
The original Zorro is famous for branding his tyrants on the chest with a blazing “Z” mark. Will this new series make another mark to GMA’s primetime block?
Zorro is Richard’s seventh collaboration with the station after Mulawin, Sugo, Captain Barbell, Lupin, Kamandag, and Codename: Asero. All of these top-rating programs gave Richard the moniker “Primetime King.” Aside from the established connection the actor has made with the loyal Kapuso viewers, the series’ powerhouse cast is also one of the program’s main attractions.
The star-studded cast are Eddie Gutirrez as Governor Luis Argon, Mark Gil as Capt. Horacio Pelaez, TJ Trinidad as Ramon Pelaez, Jomari Yllana as Diego dela Vega, Sandy Andolong as Maria, Pinky Marquez as Doña Catalina Pulido, Leo Martinez as Don Carlos Pulido, Bobby Andrews as Sgt. Pedro Gonzales, Ricky Davao as Padre Felipe, Sheena Halili as Lena, Bubbles Paraiso as Magda, Maureen Larazabal as Bella, Robert Villar as Pepe, Antonio Aquitania as Bernardo, Elvis Gutierrez as Silverio, Epi Quizon as Shishong, Bodie Cruz as Agustin Manalo, Paloma as Paquita, Shiela Marie as Liza, and Gloria Sevilla as Nana Zita.
The program that also boasts lavish production design and exceptional visual effects tells a story of a skilled horseman who becomes the champion of the masses. Abandoned by his courtesan mother (Marcela, to be played by Lani Meracdo) at a young age, Antonio (Richard Gutierrez) was raised under the care of the well-off haciendero Don Roberto Pelaez (Joel Torre) and his wife Doña Chiquita (Jacklyn Jose).
Amidst being raised by an affluent family, Antonio builds close ties with the commoners called Indios and empathizes with their plight. The romance, on the other hand, starts when Antonio meets the hardheaded Lolita (Rhian Ramos), during his search for his mother.
“I’m excited about this. Even though I didn’t audition, I’m still happy that I got the part,” Rhian revealed. “I’m so happy to be with a leading man I’m comfortable working with.”
The young actress said that because of her busy schedule during the casting of the series, she wasn’t able to audition for the plum role, but it was anyway her intention to be part of the much awaited series. Zorro is the third onscreen tandem of Rhian and Richard after Captain Barbell and Lupin.
i like zorro for vivian. we love both of them.mas nakakakilig sila.
super ganda talaga ng zorro, ang galing talaga ni richard. sana mas gaganda pa talaga kung kapartner niya si kc. the best talaga sila.
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