Mark Bautista: ‘A little pressure’ in playing Marcos | Inquirer Entertainment

Mark Bautista: ‘A little pressure’ in playing Marcos

By: - Reporter
/ 12:03 AM August 12, 2014

ONLY this much was Mark’s self-confidence when he was younger, he admits. ALANAH TORRALBA

Mark Bautista, one of the lead actors of the coming West End staging of the musical “Here Lies Love,” knows only too well that portraying a controversial and polarizing figure like the late President Ferdinand Marcos is bound to generate mixed reactions, especially in social media.

Mark told a group of reporters recently, “There’s a little bit of pressure because some people like Marcos and others don’t. As early as now, I’m getting comments on Instagram, asking why I’m doing the role. They say Marcos was corrupt, a womanizer, this and that…”




He remains unfazed by discouraging feedback, saying that what he is preparing to do is “for the arts, entertainment.” He said “Here Lies Love”—which follows First Lady Imelda Marcos’ “meteoric rise to power, and then to her descent into infamy”—would not be delving too much into politics.

“Imelda’s shoe collection will not even be tackled,” said Mark, who tried out for the role during the Manila auditions in July (he sang the Tom Jones hit, “Kiss”). “The play is more about the couple’s personal lives and colorful love story.”

Created by David Byrne of the new wave band Talking Heads and DJ-record producer Norman “Fatboy Slim” Cook, the musical received critical acclaim when it premiered in New York last year. The West End production runs from Sept. 30 to Jan. 8 at the Dorfman Theatre, housed in The Royal National Theatre complex.

Music mix

The production features dance numbers set to a mixture of disco, rock and electronic music, and a 360-degree staging. “It’s not your usual two-hour show with an intermission; it runs continuously for 90 minutes,” Mark said. “It has a concert vibe and involves a lot of dancing, so I’ve been working out.”

Portraying Imelda is Filipino-Australian actress Natalie Mendoza. Dean John-Wilson, a British performer of Chinese descent, is cast as Marcos’ political rival, the late Sen. Ninoy Aquino. Other Filipinos in the cast, according to Mark, are Jim Ferrer, Gia Macuja Atchison and Aaron Jan Mercado.


“I don’t think I was the best out of those who auditioned for the part,” Mark said. “I just feel that when something’s for you, you will get it, no matter what.”

Though he has starred in the local plays “Noli Me Tangere” and “The Full Monty,” Mark said his West End stint could be the most physically-demanding for him yet. “We get only Sundays off; on Fridays and Saturdays, we do two shows,” he said. “I’m not so sure I will have an alternate.”

Off this week

Mark, who finished runner-up to Sarah Geronimo in the talent search “Star for a Night” in 2003, is set to fly to London on Saturday, Aug. 16.

Despite experiencing theater at a young age, Mark never considered it a lucrative, or even practical, career path. His only dream was to become a successful recording artist. When he was 16, Mark—after interschool auditions—made it into a community-based theater group called Pasundayag Theater Company in his native Cagayan de Oro.

His first theater job, however, wasn’t onstage—he sold tickets. “I was okay with that. Soon after, I was asked to sing ‘Lupang Hinirang,’ and then ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’” he told the Inquirer. “I eventually became a substitute for actors who were absent. My first acting stint was for ‘Adios Papa.’”

Back then, Mark didn’t think he had the talent for musicals, so this next chapter in his life is something he has yet to fully grasp. “I didn’t have much confidence; I didn’t trust myself. But now, finally, things are starting to sink in. Perhaps our director (in Pasundayag), Mozart Pastrano, saw something in me,” said Mark, who landed his first lead role in “Kaaway sa Sulod.”

He continued, “Who knew that I’d go from Cagayan de Oro to the West End? I never even thought I would do a play in Manila. God is good.”

 London trip

When Mark and fellow singing contest alums Sarah, Christian Bautista and Erik Santos heard last year that Rachelle Ann Go had made it to the cast of the West End revival of famed the musical “Miss Saigon,” they all thought of going to London to watch their good friend perform.

But they all had very tight schedules and Mark, for one, was worried about saving enough money for the trip. But like Rachelle, Mark is a firm believer in destiny. Now he is going to London, not to just merely watch, but to be watched.

A bit disappointed

“I was in Hong Kong when I got the news—my heart leapt, my knees shook,” he related.

Asked what message his and Rachelle’s feats send to other local talents, Mark simply said, “That anything’s possible.”

In fact, he said, he felt a tinge of regret that he did not try out for “Miss Saigon,” despite constant encouragement from friends and colleagues. “I was scared, when I shouldn’t have been,” he admitted. “When ‘Here Lies Love’ came along I didn’t think twice.”

These days, Mark’s mind is still filled with what-ifs—the good kind, this time. “What if I try Broadway after? What if I try out for a foreign film?” he said, laughing.

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TAGS: Ferdinand Marcos, Here Lies Love, Mark Bautista, Theater, West End

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