On the first day of October, which is seven days away as of this story writing—9 Works Theatricals is opening its latest production—the first musical of the late Jonathan Larson titled ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’—with four ‘Miss Saigon’ alumni working together—Tanya Manalang and Ariel Reonal as two of the lead stars Robbie Guevara as director and Arnold Trinidad as choreographer.
Given the show’s two stars and the two other guys behind the scenes have been part of the critically-acclaimed musical of Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil—is perhaps the one ‘selling point’ for theater lovers to catch this returning show after 14 years since it was first mounted in 2002.
With all humility, Manalang sees why the show is a must-watch when it opens next month is obviously not about two or three of the cast are ‘Miss Saigon’ alumni, but the show in itself has its own story to tell, which is so ‘real life’ and ‘relatable’.
“It is very different to the more commercial shows currently running locally. That, I think, is its ‘selling point’.”
Meanwhile, Reonal takes pride in his work with his fellow actor—Manalang and with Guevara and Trinidad, “The chance for us to showcase our talents to the local audience. This time though, in different disciplines as actors, choreographer, and director. It is also the chance for them (Filipino audience) to see what we love to do without having to fly abroad.”
For Trinidad, “Obviously, the four of us came from the world-renowned ‘Miss Saigon’ and the advantage is that we are all seasoned performing artist. We know that we still have a lot to learn and discover but somehow we managed to ‘almost’ perfect the craft as individuals. With ‘Tik, Tik… Boom’ they will see the unseen extreme characteristics represented by the actors far from being with Miss Saigon and that would probably give us a fairer selling point.”
But Guevara, the director believes that the ‘selling point’ of this latest show of 9 Works is, “I guess the expectancy of excellent performances because Ariel and Tanya could not have gotten into ‘Miss Saigon’ if it weren’t for their talents. For Arnold and myself, we have grown from being performers to Choreographer and Director, respectively, and we apply in all our shows the style we learned in our experience with ‘Miss Saigon’ – from the study to the execution of the music and book.”
Both Tanya and Ariel are glad to be working with each other again after their stints in ‘Miss Saigon’.
She shares: “Kuya Ariel is awesome. It’s my first time working with him outside of Saigon. And after working with him for two years, doing the same role, it’s very interesting to see this whole new side of him as an actor.”
And Ariel adds, “It feels good and exciting to be reunited again with long lost friends or to be precise – family, and doing something different. During the UK Tour, we have created a bond almost like a real family. And that includes the British cast. We looked after each other, we would visit towns and theme parks together; we had Filipino food on Sundays, which the Brits enjoyed a lot. It brings back great and fun memories.”
To four artists, the show reminds them about the constant struggle of pursuing one’s passion over settling for a life that brings no joy yet provides security and comfort is a question that pervades through generations. The ticking clock in the musical is representative of the artist’s anxiety, always ticking, counting the days when they are going keep holding on.
This said first musical of Larson found its audience after his unfortunate passing in 1996; first in 2001 off-Broadway, an American national tour, two London West End premiers, and several other productions all over the world. The character of Jon has been played by theater luminaries such as Raul Esparza, Neil Patrick Harris, Lin Manuel Miranda and its first Philippine staging—Jett Pangan.
It will have a limited run until the 23rd of October this year at 8:00pm on Fridays and Saturday, and 3:30pm on Sundays at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium.