In the thick of things, but moving on soonBy Lea Salonga
Philippine Daily Inquirer
I cannot claim to be close to Tito Dolphy in any way, but as a member of the show business industry, I felt it necessary to pay my respects to and condole with his family.
What I observed when I made my pilgrimage was a beautiful reunion of just about every star in the show biz firmament, expressing their love for the comedy king. I don’t recall an occasion in the recent past that has been able to do the same.
Tito Dolphy, thank you for the laughter and the love you brought to this nation.
This is the last you’ll hear of “God of Carnage” from me—until we head to Singapore in November to reprise the show.
So far, the run has been going well, with more layers and nuance added to what we laid down in rehearsal. It’s a shame that the Manila run is only a week-and-a-half long, as it has been such a joy spewing vitriol night after night (twice a day sometimes) at these incredible and generous coactors.
That said … we will be in Singapore in November to pick up right where we left off from here. That run will last all of three weeks (Nov. 6 to 25), which makes me happy.
This run (I can’t believe we’re closing on Sunday! Already!) has been a great change from doing musicals. Normally when preparing to do something that will have me singing for at least 90 minutes, I get a little more detailed, down to what time I have to eat, shower, travel and warm up. Now, as long as I get to the theater at call time, I’m good! (I should do the straight play thing more often…)
That’s not to say we appear onstage completely cold. Due to the pacing of the show (many of our exchanges may be described as “rapid fire”), we warm up an hour before the play starts, supervised by stage manager Bernice Aspillaga-Cañete. It takes just 15 minutes (as long as my vocal warm-ups for concerts), but it’s crucial to how the night will go.
At call time, I arrive at the theater, ready to sit in the makeup chair (the good people from MAC have taken such great care of us). Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo appears, bright and cheerful (not to mention eternally youthful), and sits in the room, ready with stories of her day.
Now that she’s associate artistic director of Repertory Philippines, the theater company where many of us got our breaks as new actors, her cell phone goes off nonstop with e-mails and text messages. While getting beautified, she thinks aloud about what shows may be great to start the next Rep season with … which actors to cast … and what budgets to stay within. I find myself guffawing, only because she was once a teenager in the ensemble of Rep’s shows.
Our gentlemen arrive not long after. We hear Adrian Pang, who’s been nursing a bug caught here, in the hallway either clearing his throat or coughing. That’s how we know he’s in the building. He’s been such a trooper. Thankfully, he’s now well on the mend. It may be a bit strange performing with him without hearing a sniffle; he may have to manufacture one just for continuity!
Art is the quietest of the four of us, wielding a black motorcycle helmet and wearing a pair of sun-block sleeves that make his arms look generously tattooed. A rock star. Once he arrives though, he’s already in the zone. I don’t know how he does it … he goes from taping a teleserye (ABS-CBN’s “The Princess and I”) to doing the show. His energy must be boundless.
Our running time is only about 80 minutes, give or take a few seconds. It’s a pace we shoot for, to keep things from going slack or too relaxed.
And so, it begins anew … I write at the start of another work week, my mind revving itself up for eight more shows. After we close, I pack up and head to sunny southern California to begin work on “Allegiance,” a musical that I’ve been working on for the last couple of years. What started out as a conversation between the show’s creators and the legendary George Takei (who played Hikaru Sulu on “Star Trek”) on a night out at the theater has turned into a full-fledged production.
Now that the readings and workshop stages have passed, we go into full-on production mode with sets, lights and costumes. Our script has undergone so many changes since that last workshop a year ago.
In the meantime … yes … I have eight shows left here … and I do intend on making them count.
To our audiences, friends, show-buyers, thanks for your support. We couldn’t have done this without you.
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