‘Rogues’ gallery’ of wacky characters for Melinda Torre’s first foray into theater
If you watch the character sketches Melinda Torre creates in Mabuhay Restop Theater Café’s musical-comedy revue cum gag show, “Laugh Out Loud” (written and directed by NUT, and produced by Rose Cabrera), you’ll have a hard time believing it’s actually Mel’s first foray into theater.
I had the same reaction the first time I rehearsed “Happy Host,” the show’s first comedy skit, about the overeager TV host she portrays and the loopy guest I play. Yes, the girl can sing, act and move—with comic timing, to boot!
She isn’t really a first-time performer. While “LOL” is Mel’s first theater show, she has been wowing concertgoers and music aficionados for seven years now as part of the country’s acclaimed all-girl jazz trio, Baihana, which also includes Krina Cayabyab and Anna Achacoso.
She intimates, “I’ve always wanted to do theater—in fact, even before I joined Baihana, I auditioned for ‘The Lion King’ then a couple of musicals, but was a little wet behind the ears then. So, ‘LOL’ is truly an answered prayer—and I’m grateful for the opportunity!”
Performing wasn’t really part of Mel’s options growing up. She recalls, “As a kid, I never thought I’d make a career out of it—because I was very shy. When people would talk to me, I couldn’t say anything. Worse, sobra akong sintunado (out of tune) (laughs)—an irony that isn’t lost on me! So, tinutukan talaga ako ng nanay ko.
“I was only 15 when I finished at the Philippine Science High School, which requires its graduates to pursue a science course in college. I wanted to take fine arts, but didn’t know what I truly wanted to do with my life—so, I decided to take what sounded like a cool course: Molecular Biology.
“When I graduated, I wasn’t interested in pursuing graduate studies, so I worked in a call center, joined the UP Vocal Ensemble (where I met Krina), and sang in small bars, where I was paid P300 per night! Then, I heard that a jazz group was looking for an alto—and the rest is history!”
How different is singing with a jazz trio from performing in a club theater show? Mel beams, “The atmosphere is very relaxed when I’m with Baihana, so I think it’s important to be psychically aware that being too laid-back can get in the way of characterization, because you expend so much energy in theater. I’m not used to this much intensity—and to think I’m already the craziest and loudest member of our trio!
“With Baihana, the fear comes not so much from performing for people but from the difficulty and complexity of the music—at kung paano ito maitatawid nang maayos.”
In “LOL,” Mel shares the stage with Andy Bais, Nadja Matining, Francis Rae Quilantang and this writer as she portrays a string of colorful, lovable and nutty characters—including a clueless bold star with a lot of secrets, an opera diva-turned-voice teacher, a game-show contestant, a Miss Universe finalist, etc.!
—Talk about challenging roles, you won’t find a more diverse “rogues’ gallery” for a first-time actress to play with— and sink her thespic teeth into!
“Laugh Out Lous” will be performed again at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 22, at Mabuhay Restop. For “LOL” bookings and other details, call Mara Salvacion at 0917 810-8194 or (02) 353-8752, or visit www.mabuhayrestops.com.
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