ISABELLA JOSE or SAB to most people who know her; she has that face of a real star. She is reminiscent of Monette Rivera, the female star who made an appearance in Viva Films’ ‘Bagets 2’ as the chick swimmer named Noreen Burgos.
Sab, as an artist, it took quite a while for her to finally convince herself that she really is for theater. Back when she was a kid, her parents enrolled her in every imaginable lesson, e.g. ballet, jazz, tap, flamenco, violin, piano, fencing and a lot more—to which she ended up quitting everything.
“It has always been a dream of mine. Although I dabbled in a lot of things in my youth, I think, subconsciously, it was always there—this desire to perform and become part of this magical world called theater.”
Underneath all those stuff, she found herself gravitating towards the passion for theatre.
A Lea Salonga Loyalist.
Jose is not ashamed to claim that she is a big fan of Lea Salonga, the first-ever Filipino who won both a Laurence Olivier Award and a Tony Award as Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical—‘Miss Saigon’.
She stressed what Salonga has done for the country, “I think it’s also worth mentioning that I’m a ‘Lea loyalist’. I think a lot of us can agree that Lea opened doors for many Filipinos (myself included). So, for me at least, Lea’s success inspired me to dare, to dream, and to take the stage.”
Due to her passion for the theater, she felt unprepared and ‘green’, and that she knew she could do better with legitimate training. She challenged herself and decided to take a leap of faith and apply for her Masters in Musical Theatre in 2016.
Recently, she graduated with honors at the Guilford School of Acting in London.
Sab, who is about to take on a new straight play written by Duncan Macmillan titled—‘Lungs’ and will be paired with a Kapamilya hunk actor who debuts in this upcoming production by The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical after the musical.
Her Dreams and Hopes for the Future.
When she was in UK, where she had her Masters, she learned about the history of theater, theories of performance, the psychology of performance, methods and schools of thought, and research methodology as a new and vital tool for performance as a whole.
While there, she has been equipped with the needed skills in dance (ballet, jazz, tap, lasso, partner work and stage combat), music (physiology of singing, vocal technique, building a repertoire, etc.) acting (various methods, even acting for television), among others. And towards the end of the program, they (the students) were tasked to submit a dissertation—hers is focused on professional development and business plan for a future performing arts school.
As a theater practitioner, she hopes for more opportunities for training and education (not just the occasional dance or voice lesson), consistent, continuous training that aim to prepare Filipino performers for globally competitive work.
“If the stars align and I’m able to put up my school in the future, I’m hoping I can echo what I learned. Of course, there’s always the hope that theater becomes a more lucrative, more sustainable field. With the way things are going in local theater, I’m positive that it’ll only take a few more years before an expanded market translates to commensurate pay for performers.”
When Michelle becomes Her.
Knowing that she is someone who speaks her mind, a woman who is confident, strong-willed and independent—these traits she can identify with her character as Michelle in the musical.
Michelle is Butch’s (Jobim Javier) love interest. Jose will be sharing the stage with (and will be kissing) her brother’s best friend, too.
She admitted that the process started out being the most awkward and most challenging task to date. After a couple of days, both Jobim and her decided to have lunch together and hash it all out.
“We talked about Butch and Michelle, and everything else under the sun. I think that was all we needed—to lay it all out and decide we’d tell their love story the best way possible.”
The song ‘Panalangin’ encapsulates the journey and love story she has with Butch. She can definitely identify with the lyrics, ‘Wala nang iba pang mas mahalaga…’ as she and Michelle in the show can say that she is capable of loving no holds barred.
Growing up in theater, and as she is doing this production, what strikes the most for her, especially the song that are being used to inspire the storytelling of the musical—she resonates with one of the hit songs of APO titled—‘Batang-bata Ka Pa’.
“I think as young adults, we always delude ourselves into thinking we know everything. In truth however, we don’t know half of it. We’re all still trying to figure things out and cope with all this ‘adulting’. We’re still the same kids that run back to their parents at the end of it all. I always end up crying at rehearsals when Manong Raul and Neomi sing it to their son in the show.”
And as an artist who has slowly made a name for herself, Sab has this to say to those who dream of breaking into the theater scene, “Be patient. You’ll spend more time waiting in the wings rather than being under the spotlight. Persevere. Keep harnessing your skills until such time that people can’t help but take notice and eventually give you a chance.
“Another thing, fight for it. The world will give you what you want if you fight tooth and nail to get it. It took me almost a decade to fight for it. Lastly, learn to realize that performing isn’t the end all and be all of your life. Step out of the theater once in a while and explore the world.”
‘Heto Na! Musikal nAPO!’ is a brand new original Filipino musical written and directed by Robbie Guevara. It is set to premiere on August 3-5, 10-12, 17-19 & 24-26 at 8:00pm (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) and 3:00pm (Saturdays and Sundays). Maybank Performing Arts Theater, Bonifacio Global City. For tickets, contact Ticketworld at 891.9999.