Now on its last weekend, tonight, July 30, 8pm at the Globe Iconic Store BHS Amphitheater, Disney’s ‘Newsies’, a Broadway musical is about to close its run. It is being presented by Globe Live! and 9 Works Theatrical. The said collaboration has gathered together the brilliant artists in Philippine theater to bring real show-stopping performances from its ensemble headed by Gian Magdangal as Jack Kelly, the role that was portrayed by Christian Bale in its film version in 1992 and Jeremy Jordan on its Broadway show in 2012.
Apart from having Magdangal as the lead star of the show, it takes pride in its other cast members who were painstakingly selected and assembled by the artistic and production team. In its search for the cast, it discovered young triple threat talents, which has never been done in Philippine theater production, ever.
First-Time in Philippine Theater History.
Filipinos are known to be world-class performers and it has been proven many times over and it all began when the country’s pride—Ms. Lea Salonga made a name when she breathed into the character of Kim in ‘Miss Saigon’ and even won recognitions and awards for her performances. And even in other art forms—in dance—Filipinos are not far behind and we have proven that we are at par with the best in the world, too.
However for Filipino theater artists trying it out in Broadway—the usual challenge they get to encounter is being able to be a triple threat. Thus, in order to excel in acting, singing and dancing—especially the latter—both Globe Live! And 9 Works Theatrical invested in going through rigid dance trainings and all. And that is not even a mountain not to be conquered since—I personally witnessed the metamorphosis of one artist who was featured in the said company’s production of ‘American Idiot’ last year—in the person of Ela Lisondra. She was a swing performer in the latest production of ‘Miss Saigon’ in London.
Assembling this cast for ‘Newsies’ is one gargantuan task.
The team did not just get dancers to do the dancing parts; knowing that the show requires a lot of dancing. Because of the partnership that Globe has with Disney and after its successful run of ‘American Idiot’ last year—it brings again such production in an outdoor venue. But first and foremost—they have to find a large group of guys who can act-sing-and-dance. They didn’t fail and took the risk of mounting a six-week master class in the art of acting, singing and dancing.
Training Ground paid off very well.
Based on what I have seen on the 14th of July, the Training Ground headed by PJ Rebullida as choreographer along with Yek Barlongay who taught additional choreography particularly on tap dance—all the actors were really bursting with confidence as they showed such attitude and oomph onstage. Putting together actors and dancers who can sing and dance at the same time with varying dance disciplines—is no joke.
It was not just simply having all of them in one musical to showcase their respective skills; but rather the achieving synchronicity and harmony within all performers was the big deal.
In this production, audiences who have watched Jef Flores in other productions that earned him as the title of being today’s ‘It boy’ of Philippine theater scene—proved that he doesn’t just have the ability to move the spectators via his acting (as he was recognized as 2016 Gawad Buhay Best Actor in Red Turnip’s ‘This is Our Youth’ and 2017 Gawad Buhay Best Actor in 9 Works’ ‘tick, tick… BOOM!’ musical)—but he definitely surprised us with his newly acquired moves especially when he sung-through the song ‘The World will Know’ alongside the rest of the cast members. Whatever Flores may have thought about his ineptness in dancing—the Training Ground has further shaped him as a real versatile stage performer.
His being a second lead as Davey Jacobs doesn’t matter because he just stands out among the sea of equally talented male performers.
Another notable artist in the show is the 15-year-old Anton Posadas. Despite him being young, he is also one actor with a lot of passion toward his craft. In fact, in this particular show—this is his first time to be doing as an adult ensemble as opposed to his previous theater works where he was one of the kids in Resorts World’s ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘The King and I’—to mention a few. He is Finch in the musical.
His trainable attitude has molded him to be able to dance well together with the rest of the cast members.
Such Artistry is Premium to this Show!
Apart from the Training Ground—the show has invested in having three foreign-looking faces—the likes of Danielle Chopin, a classically-trained Filipina-American artist who plays Katherine Plumber, Jack Kelly’s love interest; Melissa Bell, an Australian performer who has performed in Tokyo Disney Sea and Hong Kong Disneyland; and Greg Dulcie, an American theater artist who appeared in productions—such as ‘The Wizard of Oz’, ‘Peter Pan’; just to name no more.
Names like Luis Marcelo, Alex Diaz, Jon Abella, MC dela Cruz, Vyen Villanueva, Ian Ocampo, Erick Arenas, Mark Anthony Grantos, Ronelson Yadao, Jourdan Bartolome, Clark dela Riva, Jan Mayo, Jim Ferrer, and Stephen Viñas are those who composed the rest of the cast members.
Also, the set that was designed by Ed Lacson is one that complemented the intense action performed by the actors. The scaffoldings erected onstage depict an old printing machine that sets the overall theme of the show. Both Martin Esteva and GA Fallarme did collaborate well with each other in their lighting as well as in the video and projection designs.
All the stuff presented and included in the said production blended just perfectly even with the sound design of both Rards Corpuz and Jaime Godinez so as the musical direction of Daniel Bartolome. Even if the heavy downpour made it quite difficult for the audience to focus solely because of the raging sound outside—it still managed to make the crowd go wild because the dancing and the music of Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, and a book by Harvey Fierstein.
Given this latest challenging stage presentation—Globe Live! and 9 Works Theatrical are just able to show the three T’s—time, talent and treasure—that everything is really possible!
The time spent for its six-week intensive master classes for acting, singing and dancing is worth it. With all the diversified talents moving onstage—none can be considered small roles since all of them have contributed to the success of this show, rain or shine.
Kudos to Robbie Guevara, Santi Santamaria and Joe Caliro for making it possible for Filipino theater lovers to witness great acting and singing as well as world-class dancing; which could very well be credited to their brains and concerted efforts.