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Ang Huling el Bimbo 2.0: same story, better narration

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THE YOUNGER CAST members of Ang Huling El Bimbo.

RESORTS WORLD MANILA’s musical Ang Huling El Bimbo will return in March and this does not only mean giving a chance to those who missed it the first time around, more than this it is an opportunity to tweak the script and some songs, and to improve character development.

“It’s so easy to show the same show again. But it would be sayang (a pity) not to refine it, to fine tune it,” said the musical’s director Dexter Santos, during a press conference on Jan. 31 at Resorts World Manila.

He added that the creative team and the cast treated El Bimbo like their baby. “We are critical about it, we nurture it until the material reaches its full potential… It’s not enough that people come to the show, kung kaya mong lagyan ng kaunting kurot ng puso (if you can add something to pull the heartstrings) why not?,” he said.

But he assured that (spoiler alert!) “The dead body will still be there.”

Ang Huling El Bimbo was first staged in September last year. It was critically acclaimed, performances were sold out, and the producers had to add a few show dates to accommodate all the people who wanted to watch it. Still, others were left unable to watch.

The musical uses the Eraserhead’s classic songs as it tells the story of three young men, Hector, Emman, and Anthony, and their one girl friend, Joy, and their journey from college, graduation, and adult life. It employs non-linear storytelling that jumps from their college days to pursuing their separate paths.

While the rerun keeps the same plot, changes have been made. First, there is the casting: the actors who play the college students and their adult counterparts will looks more alike. As Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, the musical’s associate director who is also one of the leads, the encore has a cast that “match the alternates as closely as possible.”

The critics who saw the first run said the audience had to truly suspend their disbelief to accept the drastic physical differences between the young and old characters. This dilemma has now been addressed.

Reprising their roles are Gian Magdangal, OJ Mariano, Jon Santos, and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as the older versions of Hector, Emman, Anthony, and Joy, and Reb Atadero, Boo Gabunada, and Tanya Manalang, as the younger versions. First-run cast member Topper Fabregas has been replaced by Lance Reblando and Phi Palmos as the young Anthony.

Jamie Wilson and Shiela Francisco will reprise their original roles a sergeant and Joy’s aunt.

The new faces in the cast are Bibo Reyes as young Hector, Gab Pangilinan as the young Joy, Carla Guevara-Laforteza as the old Joy, David Ezra as the old Hector, and Nico Manalo and Myke Salomon (who’s also the musical director) as the old and young Emman.

Aside from the cast changes, there has been a refinement in the narration.

“Given the huge success of the first run, we wanted to ensure that the audience will still be treated to all the best-loved songs as in the original, save for a few tweaks in aid of a more streamlined storytelling,” said Ms. Yulo. “It’s even more amazing for those who will see it for the first time, and these changes will bring an added dimension of enjoyment for those who have already seen it before.”

Ang Huling El Bimbo will run from March 1 until April 6 at Resorts World Manila. For tickets, check www.ticketworld.com.ph. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman