THE popularity of jukebox musicals featuring the songs of a well-known performer (think Mamma Mia! and Rock of Ages) shows no sign of waning, particularly in the Philippines. While PETA has Rak of Aegis and Resorts World Manila has Eraserhead’s Ang Huling El Bimbo, 9 Works Theatrical and Globe Live join in the musical fun with Eto na! Musikal nAPO!, which pays tribute to yet another local music icon, the APO Hiking Society.
“This is all Boboy [Garrovillo]’s fault,” said the musical’s writer and director Robbie Guevara during the media launch on June 26 when explaining why and how the idea of the musical came about.
Back in 2003, when the two worked together in the comedy Erectile Dysfunction, during breaks, Mr. Garrovillo would regale him with stories about how APO started as a band.
“And I knew that’s what I wanted the musical to be about,” said Mr. Guevara. Ten years later they met again and, as Mr. Guevara explained, “Boboy told me casually: ‘You know what, you should do a musical of our songs’.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Going on stage at the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater in BGC from Aug. 3 to 26, Eto na! Musikal nAPO! is a romantic comedy and a coming of age story about the seven friends who originally composed the APO Hiking Society. The story is set in 1975 and details how they joined a songwriting and singing contest in college. It follows their school dilemmas, their personal problems (parents, girlfriends, heartaches), and how the political turmoil of Martial Law affects their journey.
The play has undergone many revisions — 21 versions as of this writing — through the years. The original version was 70% English while the latest version is 80% Filipino. Mr. Guevara said that he did not want to touch politics at first, but after many readings with the artistic team and consultations with the members of APO Hiking Society, he said it couldn’t be helped.
“Danny [Javier of APO] said it’s an un-ignorable circumstance at that time and suggested I include it in the story. I hope the people are reminded of what happened, and I hope they hate the Marcoses more after the show,” said Mr. Guevara.
The play features re-arrangements of iconic APO Hiking Society songs into more “theatricalized” versions done by musical director Daniel Bartolome.
“I personally wouldn’t want to touch the original arrangements. The songs are already perfect as they are,” said Mr. Bartolome in a statement. “But considering that it would be used in a musical, changes have to be made. Because it’s not going to be staged as a concert, but with a story. The music is part of the storytelling. I carefully chose which to omit, which to keep, and which to change to best serve the staging or the scene.”
Some of the hit songs included in the play are “Awit ng Barkada,” “Panalangin,” “Batang Bata Ka Pa,” “When I Met You,” “Mahirap Magmahal ng Syota ng Iba,” “Blue Jeans,” and “Bawat Bata,” among others.
The seven college friends are played by Mark Bautista, Jef Flores, Jon Philippe Go, Jobim Javier, Alfritz Blanche, Jon Abella, and Vyen Villanueva. Also in the cast are Rita Daniela, Marika Sasaki, Sab Jose, Raul Montesa, and Noemi Gonzales.
Eto na! Musikal nAPO! is written and directed by Robbie Guevara, with dramaturgy by Jonjon Martin, choreography by PJ Rebullida, lighting design by Shakira Villa Symes, set design by Joey Mendoza, costume design by Eric Pineda, technical direction by Dong Calingacion, sound design by Rards Corpus, and hair and makeup by Myrene Santos.
Apart from doing Broadway and English plays such as Disney’s Newsies and American Idiot, the executive producer of 9 Works Theatrical Santi Santamaria said it is part of the company’s advocacy to do original Filipino plays, which they started with Himala, Isang Musikal, done with its sister company Sandbox Collective, in February.
For tickets log on to Ticketworld, www.ticketworld.com.ph. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman