KNOWN for his Castilian good looks, impeccable comedic timing, and lighthearted ways, theater actor and director Miguel Faustmann passed away yesterday at the age of 68.

“We are deeply saddened we have lost our brother Miguel who passed away peacefully in his sleep on the 16th of May,” his niece Alexandra Faustmann, announced in a Facebook post, noting that information on his memorial service would be announced in the coming days.

“Support Philippine Theater. Support Philippine Film. Remember his work by supporting what he loved,” she wrote.

Born to a Spanish-Filipino family in Manila on Aug. 9, 1954, he was the son of Ramon Faustmann and Eladio Lago. His inclination for the arts manifested itself early as he started writing school plays and performing in them in La Salle Greenhills and later Adamson University where he took up architecture. He finished Fine Arts in the Philippine Women’s University, majoring in Interior Design, a course that served him well as he became a set designer for his home theater company, Repertory Philippines (Rep).

While best known for his work in Rep, he actually started out performing in the Spanish language play, Pegame Luciano, in 1974, a co-production of the Teatro Fil-Hispanico and Manila Theater Guild. The following year he made his Rep debut as a member of the ensemble in the musical Hello Dolly!

His acting career saw him performing a wide range of roles — he played princes and kings, a depraved sheik, the Jewish tailor Tevye, the Argentinian dictator Peron, the Pirate King, and Scrooge, among a multitude of other roles, both comedic and serious and musical, in a career that spanned nearly five decades.

He made his directing debut in 1988 with Rep’s production of Flea in Her Ear.

He was not limited to Repertory Theater, serving as a narrator for Ballet Philippines productions, taking on mildly risque roles with dinner theater company SRO Philippines, and less R-rated fare for groups like 9Works Theatrical.

He also acted in television and movies, notably in Escapo (1995), Ang Probinsyano (2015), Heneral Luna (2015), and Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral (2018).

“We earn better in films and TV, but theater is always my first choice,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 2019, while discussing his role in Father’s Day, which turned out to be his final Repertory Philippine production, just before the COVID-19 pandemic closed the theaters.

Reminiscences poured onto social media as word of his passing spread.

Actress Leisl Batucan-Del Rosario, Artistic Director of Repertory Philippines wrote: “As actor, director, set designer, you were impeccable perfection. And all throughout your stellar life you were virtuosity and generosity and kindness and humility personified…. You were born to tread the boards and oh how mightily and humbly and gloriously you inhabited each character you portrayed.”

Actor Noel Rayos wrote of how Faustmann taught him “how to act” while working together in a production of Romeo and Juliet (Rayos was Romeo, Faustmann Friar Lawrence): “to you [it] was all a matter of ‘thinking of someone you know and saying everything like he would,’ a simple yet profound technique I’ve carried to this day.”

Young actress Micaela Pineda, writing about being directed by him in a comedy, said “You were a kid stuck in a grown-up’s body and would act and demonstrate everyone’s parts to show us what you meant! It drove people crazy but you were funny! And you were fun!”

“What a privilege it was to have been in your orbit, from my very first time on stage to the last play we did together, when I stepped into a role you twice played so masterfully. I shall miss you, dear friend,” wrote actor and director Jamie Wilson.

“No one could nail a character in the first reading, or set up a joke with a deadly punchline like only you could,” wrote actor Jeremy Domingo.

Faustmann received an Aliw Award in 1986 as best actor, and a Gawad Buhat best actor award in 2017. He received six nominations for the Philstage Gawad Buhay Awards for acting, directing, and stage design. — AAH