Off-Broadway ‘Rent’ is back on local stage

by Nickie Wang

How many minutes are there in one year? It will take you time to do the Math but if you were a fan of the musical Rent, you can recite the answer as if you were a natural genius, just don’t deliver it complete with the melody of Seasons of Love, otherwise, your friends would think you’re not that smart at all.

It’s 525,600 minutes, that’s how the famous song measures a year. These numbers and the song itself will be among the profound compositions that will keep you singing even after the actors have bowed their heads and the curtain has closed.

After its successful run in February and December last year, the rock musical that travels through a year of the Bohemians lives as they go through many struggles just to make both ends meet is back on Feb. 12 in its new home, the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium.

The story and characters in the musical are inspired by Puccini’s famous opera La Bohéme which is based on Muger’s Scenes de La Vie de Boheme. The plot and the characters are parallel to those in the opera and remain faithful to Murger’s main ideas of Bohemia.

“It was in late 1996 that I first heard of Rent,” says Robbie Guevara, the man behind the successful local staging of the famous Broadway rock opera, “And today it is still as strong and relevant as it was back when it was first produced Off-Broadway, on Broadway, and around the world.”

Rent is a story of eight vivid young characters who defy mainstream culture. The musical centers on sensitive issues that conventional musical don’t dare to tackle—sex, drugs and HIV/AIDS (half of the characters in the story are afflicted with the deadly sexually transmitted disease). It is set in the seedy East Village of New York City, where youths and struggling artists depicted living life on their own terms while battling poverty and corporate oppression.

“A lot of people have been asking how different will this current run be, I can’t give them a detailed answer because we can’t really change drastically but we have an exciting new choreography apart of course from the new cast members,” Robbie says.

The director furthers that the current run is “pretty much the same” with the previous staging. He adds that even the author (American composer and playwright Jonathan Larson) did not try to veer away from the original story and he even used the same names for the characters.

“The local adaptation is not as controversial as the La Bohéme but the story becomes alive because of the issues it deals with specifically AIDS. The cast, like the characters in the story, they only have each other [when they’re onstage]. We always emphasize the family aspect…the connection between each other,” Robbie stresses.

Rent stars: Gian Magdangal as Roger Davis, the songwriter; Fredison Lo as Mark Cohen, the nerdy filmmaker; OJ Mariano as Tom Collins, the computer genius; Job Bautista as Angel Dummott Schunard, Collins’ drag queen street musician lover; Jenny Villegas as Joanne Jefferson, Maureen’s public interest lawyer lover, and Lorenz Martinez as Benjamin Coffin III, a former member of the group who, after marrying a wealthy woman, has since become their greedy landlord; and Sheree Bautista and Ciara Sotto as Mimi, the AIDS-afflicted dancer.

The rest of the ensemble is composed of Peachy Atilano, Harold Cruz, Johann dela Fuente, Pam Imperial, Gary Junsay, Anna Santamaria, Alys Serdenia, and Mark Tayag. Al Gatmaitan also joins the ensemble and will play the role of Roger in certain performances.

The artistic team is led by Robbie, with Jojo Malferrari as musical director; Onyl Torres as musical director; Charles Stephen Thompson with Francis Matheu and Mara Andres  as choreographers; Mio Infante as scenographer; Martin Esteva as Lighting Designer; Chuck Ledesma as sound designer; and Bek Soriano as costume stylist.

The rock musical runs from Feb. 12 to March 6 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza in Makati City. For more information visit or call TicketWorld at 891-9999.

Sexy starlet goes legitimate

Little did many people know, but sexy starlet Sheree, who now uses her surname Bautista, is actually a good singer. As a matter fact, she is reprising her role as Mimi Marquez, the AIDS-afflicted dancer from the Cat Scratch Club in the rock opera Rent. She is alternating with singer and occasional actress Ciara Sotto in giving life to the youngest character in the musical.

“Before I don’t have any idea of this musical…I’m just fascinated by the music and the big movements of the actors on the stage,” shares Sheree. Sheree admits that she got the inspiration from boyfriend Gian Magdangal, who plays the lead role in the musical, to join the theater.

The character she plays is 19-year-old junkie who works as an exotic dancer at a club. She is an HIV positive and a chain smoker. According to Sheree, she and Mimi have a lot in common. Mimi has an open heart and is committed to living the rest of her life the best way she can and Sheree believes that she personifies that good qualities of the character. She even relates her posing in men’s magazine and wearing sexy outfits as her similarities to her.

“My role here is a little conservative compared to the ones I have done before but because of this musical I can effortlessly say that I am no longer a sexy star. I am now a theater actress,” she quips.

Oscars for Twitter

For two years in a row, Imortal star Angel Locsin has been a nominee to the Shorty Awards, an annual awards event that honors top short-form content creators on the micro-blogging website Twitter. It is always been considered as the Oscars for Twitter writers.

Over 250,000 nominations have been tweeted for The Shorty Awards to determine the six finalists in each of the 26 official categories that include Advertising, Apps, Customer Service, Design, Entertainment, Health, Humor, Literature, Music, News, and Politics among others.

Angel, with Twitter address @143redangel, is nominated under in the Best Twitter Celebrity category and is competing against Latin-Grammy award winning singer and actress Ivete Sangalo, Canadian actors Nathan Fillion and David Hewlett, Brazillian axé singer Claudia Leitte, and English comedian and playwright Stephen Fry.

“I’m very thankful. I know I have the best [Twitter] followers. They are the ones who voted for me. Wala akong idea,” elated Angel says in a recent interview with the media.

Currently, the Kapamilya actress ranks third among the nominees in the Celebrity category. The winner to the annual event is decided through popular voting. Other Filipinos nominated in this year’s Shorty Awards are Daniel Razon in Journalist category and Charice in Music category.

Happy Yipee Yehey

So Willie Revillame really failed to convince his pals John Estrada and Randy Santiago to stay loyal with TV5 because the teaser for the new ABS-CBN noontime show has been released and the main hosts have been introduced at a trade show with the advertisers.

Happy Yipee Yehey is the replacement of half-baked Pilipinas Win na Win, which took over when Wowowee went off air. The show promises to offer exciting games and production numbers, and big-time prizes.

According to the network’s news site, apart from Randy Santiago and John Estrada, who were Willie Revillame’s partners in Magandang Tanghali Bayan (MTB) that aired from 1998 until 2005. They will be joined by Mariel Rodriguez, Toni Gonzaga, Bentong, Bianca Manalo, Melai Cantiveros, Sam Milby, Matteo Guidecelli and YouTube star Jobert Austria.

Can this bunch of hosts finally give Eat Bulaga a real competition? At this early, a lot of people are already saying that this is just another version of Wowowee. Nonetheless, let’s give the determined Kapamilya network a well-deserved approval for coming up with a new show. It allotted an ample time for brainstorming and planning for this program so we keep our hopes high for Happy Yipee Yehey, or we can also keep our fingers crossed.

2 responses to “Off-Broadway ‘Rent’ is back on local stage

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Off-Broadway ‘Rent’ is back on local stage « WITHOUT WANG² --

  2. For March 4 8pm showing of Rent, please text +639175393536. Thanks!

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