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‘Jekyll & Hyde’ a must-see

By: - Columnist
/ 10:16 PM March 21, 2012

Monday night last week, I headed to OnStage Greenbelt to see an early technical rehearsal of Repertory Philippines’ production of “Jekyll & Hyde.”

The show was in its developmental stage. Costumes were incomplete and not yet distressed; not everyone was using makeup; wigs were being evaluated; lighting needed to be focused and properly cued; entrances and exits for the cast were not refined and finalized; the scoring and tempo of certain songs needed to be tightened; and other music concerns needed to be addressed as well. But the potential was decidedly there.

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Brilliant as Jekyll

In this technical run, Jett Pangan played the role of Dr. Henry Jekyll who, after an experiment gone wrong, becomes the homicidal and psychopathic Edward Hyde. Michael Williams, who alternates in the role with Jett, had done a run-through earlier in the day and, unsurprisingly, had gone home to rest.

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The vocal demands of playing Jekyll/Hyde would probably equal that of Jean Valjean in “Les Miz,” complicated by a split personality disorder!

Underscoring the performances were the huddled voices of director Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and her assistant director Rem Zamora, as they exchanged comments over the wig of one actor (he no longer uses it), how John Batalla’s lighting design turned out to be gorgeous, and how another costume did not look quite right.

What seemed to be firmly in place were the following: Jett’s Hyde was brilliant. I look forward to his transformation in order to see Hyde in all his primal, sensual and ultimately homicidal rage. Cris Villonco as Emma Carew combined strength and sweetness (I could listen to her all day).

Kalila Aguilos debuts with Rep as the not-so-maidenish Lucy Harris, who has the unenviable task of singing the songs created for Linda Eder, which would stretch any female singer’s vocal chords to breaking point. Junix Inocian in his comeback appearance as Gabriel John Utterson, exudes regal poise and carriage. He cuts a dashing figure in those period costumes, at ease from years of wearing a variety of them on the London stage.

The strength and quality of the principal actors are impressive, and aside from the thespians mentioned above, the cast includes stars from many past Repertory productions, such as Liza Infante-Robinson, Cara Barredo and Topper Fabregas.

But as strong as the principal cast already is, it is the ensemble, with stalwarts Reuben Uy, Red Nuestro, Mayen Bustamante-Cadd, Jack Salud, Steve Cadd, Oliver Usison, Jamie Wilson, Jamie Inocian, Naths Everett, and James Stacey, that truly shines—providing mood, emotion, background action, and dazzling stellar vocals.

Tribute to Repertory

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“Jekyll & Hyde” had an auspicious opening on Friday, we heard, capped with a huge standing ovation for its cast and production team, signaling the start of what should be a great run. Rep also celebrated its 45th anniversary on that opening weekend.

That special gala performance on March 17 (with Michael playing Jekyll) was followed by a special tribute to one of Rep’s founders, Baby Barredo.

We were told that Raymond Lauchengco, Audie Gemora, Miguel Faustmann and Leo Martinez serenaded Baby one by one, while the male ensemble went down on their knees as their voices soared into glorious song, in what seemed like a chorus of a hundred people!

The late cofounder Zenaida Amador must have been present in the room, by Baby’s side, looking with wonder at the numerous lives they had touched with their training and their faith, old and new talents, now standing before them on the stage.

To everyone at Repertory Philippines, I wish you a happy 45th birthday. I was unable to spend it with you that night, but I celebrated in the one way that felt most appropriate—doing what I love and was trained well to do, on the night that two of my most significant mentors, Bibot and Baby, were celebrated. In doing so, I hope that I made them proud.

Two-night stand

“The Legends and the Classics” concert was presented at the CCP on March 17 and 18. Facebook and Twitter have since been abuzz with many messages, both to and from the artists, dancers, orchestra, artistic and production staff, family and friends, and the audience.

The full-fledged concert combined three different performance art practitioners in one show: a concert pianist (Cecile Licad), a classical ballerina (Lisa Macuja-Elizalde) and a musical theater actress (yours truly). It grew from the kernel of an idea proposed three years ago by lawyer Katrina Legarda to ballet dancer Lisa Macuja-Elizalde. The two share a bond of grief over the loss of Katrina’s sister Terry and Lisa’s brother Jerry in the same car accident many years ago; at the time, both Terry and Jerry were working at Rep.

No one ever thought this would fly, but it did—in fact it soared! Congratulations to everyone!

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TAGS: Cultural Center of the Philippines, Entertainment, Jekyll and Hyde, Lea Salonga, Musical, OnStage Greenbelt, Repertory Philippines, Theater
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