Unpacking | Inquirer Entertainment


By: - Columnist
/ 12:30 AM October 31, 2019


The author (left) with costar Jett Pangan

It’s the day after the closing performance of Atlantis Theatrical’s “Sweeney Todd.” Last Saturday, I brought along a suitcase for me to dump all that I’ve accumulated in my dressing room over the last few weeks: my essential oils and diffuser, my “Sweeney” script and score, a few hoodies, toiletries, a brass elephant (my good luck charm), vacuum bottles, cards and letters, and other gifts from the company and fans.

Over the last few days, I received tokens of remembrance from members of the cast: a keychain, a sticky pad for devices, a flashlight, gorgeous salted duck eggs and a bag of candy eyeballs. This morning, with the help of one of my girls at home, we opened the suitcase brought home and unpacked everything, figuring out where to put it all.


However, it’s my feelings that are slowly being unpacked as this night continues. In the last many hours, members of the cast and crew have posted photos of the closing night party, accompanied by messages of gratitude for a wonderful run.


The party itself was a very private affair, with plenty of food provided by Atlantis and all kinds of alcohol brought in by… of course… the cast. Bottles of gin, various botanicals, Scotch whiskey, plus tonic and soda water. This would be a celebration of an experience none of us is going to forget anytime soon.

Not that we have a choice, though. We have a Singapore run to prepare for, so we’ll actually need to keep a tight grip on our script, the music and our dialect work in order to reproduce the production in less than a month.

So kindly allow me to express my gratitude to the various quarters that made the Manila run of “Sweeney Todd” proof that it’s possible to do the impossible.

First of all, to our fearless leader, director Bobby Garcia. My love, you and I were talking about doing this show more than two years ago. A wild idea that neither of us knew we’d be able to pull off. But though it was wild, it turned out to be one of the best decisions either of us has made and for it to be the ender of Atlantis’ 20th season was the icing on an already rich and decadent cake. Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for pushing me to do my best each and every single day I showed up for work, but doing so gently but firmly, knowing exactly what it was you demanded from my Nellie. She, and I, will always be thankful.

To my Sweeney, rock star Jett Pangan, you truly were the only man who could do this show in the way Bobby envisioned. You brought the darkness and the light, not to mention those out-of-this-world pipes, a lower register rarely used in public given room to breathe and prosper here. You were everything I could ever hope for in a stage partner for this musical: equal parts generous, kind, lovely and funny. And as for your Sweeney, let’s just say that at every show, I looked forward to being scared out of my pants by the final scene.

Nyoy Volante, you have proven thus that there isn’t anything you can’t do. I’ve seen you in various Atlantis shows and as a result became a fan. But as Adolfo Pirelli, you’ve blown my mind and exceeded expectations. Versatile, musical, focused, flexible, hilarious and brave—that is how I shall always know you to be. Oh, and very handsome.


To the rest of that all-star principal lineup: Andrew Fernando, Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante, Ima Castro, Gerald Santos, Luigi Quesada and Arman Ferrer, you are all beyond talented and incredible to work with, and have such fantastic hearts. As arduous as this musical was for us all, you’ve made it a much lighter labor, infusing each day with laughter, a hearty sense of humor and a great love for everything you do.

And to that fabulous ensemble: Dean Rosen, Steven Conde, Jep Go, Kevin Guiman, Sarah Facuri, Christine Flores and Emeline Celis Guinid, you are all just stellar. Beyond incredibly hardworking, you are so funny! I don’t remember laughing at lunch breaks as much as I did with you all. And to our associates tasked with maintaining the show (Steven, Arman and dialect coach Dean), thanks for keeping us on our toes.

To our stage management team: Ed Murillo, Christian Parado, Janine Martinez and Jeremiah Busa, for taking great care of us backstage and remembering which props, staging and pieces of everything goes where. To our sound folks Karen Dio Mosuela, Bea Chu and Aron Roca, thanks for making sure we all sounded flawless night after night.

To the entire Solaire crew pushing, pulling, active in the shadows, thanks for doing all that you do. To our technical director Jamie Wilson, thanks for amply demonstrating just how safe that set is by jumping on everything. To the Theater at Solaire and all who take care of it, thank you for being so welcoming.

Until our run in Singapore begins, Mrs. Nellie Lovett is signing off. The sold out sign is up… we’ve sold our last meat pie.

‘The Voice Kids’

My week is now focused on the grand finals of “The Voice Kids,” which airs live this Saturday and Sunday. Three incredibly talented young artists have emerged at the top of the heap: Team Sarah’s Vanjoss Bayaban, Kamp Kawayan’s Carmelle Collado and FamiLea’s Cyd Pangca. We couldn’t be more excited, nervous and terrified.

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Good luck, you three! Whatever happens, you’ve made all of us very proud.

TAGS: Backstory, Sweeney Todd, The Voice Kids Philippines

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