When your Props come Vack with a Vengeance
I was probably the most excited early this year, when Tata Nanding Josef (Artistic Director of Tanghalang Pilipino) asked me to join the cast of the 7th re-run of the Original Filipino musical “Zsa Zsa Zaturnah, Ze Muzikal, Vack with a Vengeance” as Queen Femina Suarestellar Baroux, (alternating with legs-for-days thespian Kalila Aguilos) as the arch nemesis of Zaturnah.
Even more excited was I, when I learned that there were, apart form myself two other “newbie’s” to the cast: Gabe Mercado as the flamboyant hairdresser’s assistant “Didi”, and Rocky Salumbides as “Dodong” the male romantic lead.
This was my first project for TP and in 24 years of acting, was certainly a welcome change. Chris Millado directed his team of actors with ease and expertise and the TP company and its guest performers all shone at their own time, each lending the production the polish and bravura this 7th re-run demanded.
First song Number (Photos by: Joel Nuñez)
There were several hurdles to get over in joining a long-established show/company. The first and most obvious is getting up to par to their level of performance, (which to this day, still challenges me!) As an actor, there is nothing better than “re-visiting” a role because you inevitably find more depth, nuance and over-all understanding of the character and their circumstances. So really, it wasn’t enough for me to perform “well” but to get to that level to have that “ease” in knowing a character so well, you can actually start experimenting.
I had never seen the play or film, and upon first reading I immediately thought: Oh! How perfect an English accent would sound with Queen Femina’s lines, and no sooner had I thought this, did I realize that the recordings were BOTH in “Queen’s English” by the Originals Agot Isidro and Kalila Aguilos.
Dance Number w the Amazonistas while Zsa zsa and Didi watch (Photos by: Joel Nuñez)
Then there is the median between “fitting-in” to what has already been established as “routine” and build-up to laugh lines, and making your own “version” of the character. The Genre being (Pinoy) Musical Comedy, I thought I would feel right at home, and I was, (given my many years doing musical comedy with Repertory Philippines,) but just added with a “local” twist of camp/comedy.
In fact, I was asked at the press-con on how I would fit in to the mix up genres, of show-biz names and thespians- and I quickly replied: Like a pea in a pod! I have my roots in theatre, and was one of the first to “cross-over” to mainstream entertainment shortly after, and am a “babaing bakla” or a female well-versed/comfortable in “gayspeak” and camp ways.
Over-powering Zsa Zsa in “Prepare to Meet Your Doom” (Photos by: Joel Nuñez)
The last “hurdle”, being able to mix-in and blend with a set of actors used to each other and ways of working, was not even ever, a problem. From the get-go, my co-alternate Kalila Aguilos was accommodating in every way, even towards the design of my costume, make-up tips, etc. And my Amazonistas and co-actors in scenes were always ready to help, coach, teach and drill me where needed, seeing I was such a willing (and desperate) student
Our run comprised of 16 shows, so I naturally had 8. On my 4rth show, I was determined to get the show down “perfect” in terms of dialogue, lyrics, choreography, timing, etc. One funny experience I had which had almost everyone in the scene cracking up, was in the climax of “Prepare to Meet Your Doom” wherein I threaten Zsa Zsa Zaturnah with a “Cold Wave Motion Gun” (hairdryer), which is handed to me offstage before I aim it at her temples. Alas, not checking the position of the dryer, when I finally aimed it at her, it was reversed, facing me! Wilma Doesn’t (who plays one of the Amazonistas) wanted so badly to fix it, but the moment was gone, and it happened to be the show where I had a friend taking photographs of my performance!
So now, not only is the moment forever in my memory but in photographs as well, and now because of this blog: online! So much for a perfect show
And the dreaded prop “backfiring” on me ;( (Photos by: Joel Nuñez)
Oh well, that’s part of the excitement and challenge of live performance, you just have to take the highs with the lows and make your last performance as best as you can, because as my Tita Bibot Amador always used to say: “You are only as good as your last show”.
Zsa Zsa Zaturnah will have its last run this Saturday, March 19 at 3pm AND 8pm. I will be performing as Queen Femina at the 8pm show, which is a replacement from the March 5, 8pm show previously cancelled. You may call Ticket world 891 9999 or CCP Box Office 832-3704. Alternatively some group ticket buyers are on 0906-3000743, 0918-904418.