In 2010, there was this Filipino drama-musical film titled ‘Emir’ that never had that much attention, and seven years later another musical film is going to hit the cinemas this December 25 during the Metro Manila Film Festival 2017 (MMFF)—that is ‘Ang Larawan’ with Joanna Ampil and Rachel Alejandro as central characters.
Both Ampil and Alejandro took the roles of the Marasigan sisters—Candida and Paula, respectively. The two female characters are being forced to go separate ways by their older siblings—Nonie Buencamino and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Manolo and Pepang. The two helpless sisters face great challenges of sticking it out together and making a stand against the profit-oriented brother and sister of theirs after their high-profile painter-father Don Lorenzo Marasigan failed to produce any artwork. The Marasigans particularly the two sisters are in big financial trouble.
The film is based on the 1997 stage production—‘Ang Larawan the Musical’, which had its 1998 restaging written by Nick Joaquin, a recognized National Artist for Literature. The musical was also an adaption of an earlier play ‘A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino’, which was also a work of Joaquin.
A combination of mainstream and theater artists comprises the cast. Kapamilya actor—Paulo Avelino as Tony Javier is casted as the male boarder that the Marasigan sisters have to take in order to support their ailing father, the Marasigan house and themselves. Fresh from his successful musical film ‘Changing Partners’, theater actor Sandino Martin is Bitoy Camacho. Other members of the cast include Cris Villonco, Aicelle Santos, Robert Arevalo, Celeste Legaspi, Cara Manglapus, Zsa Zsa Padilla (who once portrayed Paula in a stage production of ‘Ang Larawan’), Rayver Cruz, Ogie Alcasid, Jojit Lorenzo, Dulce, Nanette Inventor, Jaime Fabregas, and Noel Trinidad.
‘Ang Larawan’ is the third full length feature film to be directed by a former Broadway production designer—Loy Arcenas. It is produced by Culturtain Musicat Productions, owned by talent manager Girlie Rodis and singer-actress Celeste Legaspi.
If ‘La La Land’, a 2016 American musical romantic comedy-drama flick directed by Damien Chazelle made waves with Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress in the lead roles; this film by Arcenas hopes to present the film as an ‘alternative’ to the prevalent genres such as romance comedy and horror films especially during the December film festival. As an art form—it also seeks to provide the Filipino audience—young and old to examine what should Filipinos be proud of as a nation.
For more information about the film, a book aptly titled—‘Ang Larawan: From Stage to Screen’ is available for purchase online.