It all began a full 50 years ago, with Repertory Philippines’ first regular season of plays at the Insular Life Theater—“Miss Julie,” “Luv,” “Antigone,” “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
I know because I was there, acting in Murray Schisgal’s loopy comedy caper, “Luv,” costarring with Maricris Tabora and Conrad Parham.
So, when I attended Rep’s 50th anniversary gala last June 11 at The Theatre at Solaire, many glittering and glistening memories flooded in as I joined a theater and stage full of “golden” grads and vets in savoring a show full of retrospective reminiscences that gave a high-five toast to all of those eventful, halcyon years.
One of the speakers that evening talked about “Luv” in particular, citing its successful showing, after the less-popular drama, “Miss Julie,” as an early indication to Rep’s founders that comedies could be the more profitable way to go.
The gala’s retrospective program of play titles indicated that we were in the very next Rep season, as well, playing a German psychiatrist in “Suddenly Last Summer.”
It was a turbulent drama, but it also fared well, because it topbilled no less than the late, great Tita Muñoz. Her luminous thespic reputation preceded her as she essayed the pivotal role assigned to Elizabeth Taylor in the film version of Tennessee Williams’ play.
Then came “The Owl and the Pussycat,” a two-character comedy I was tapped by Zeneida “Bibot” Amador to star in with Rep’s “leading leading lady,” Baby Barredo.
It was a rigorous and demanding assignment, just two actors keeping a full-length comedy feistily funny for over two hours. But the good news was that Baby and I “clicked” as a thespic tandem, and in fact would act together again in many subsequent Rep productions.
The play did so well that its run was extended to include performances in other venues. But, it was such a physical challenge that Baby fell ill when we were just about to perform it at the Abelardo Theater in UP.
We could have canceled the performance because Baby was really sick, but true to the resolute theater mantra, “The show must go on,” the decision was made to go on with the performance.
Unfortunately, the performance took its toll on Baby—so, by the start of the final act, she couldn’t even stand up!
Thus, we ended up doing all of Act Three seated on the stage floor, and the audience loved her for the selfless generosity and guts! But, the minute the performance ended, Baby was rushed to the hospital, for well-deserved surcease—and a good, long rest!
As we relived our Rep memories at the June 11 gala show, we recalled other golden highlights, like Bibot’s tough-as-nails yet heartbreaking portrayal of the title character in “Mother Courage,” “A Chorus Line” due to the memorable debut “triple-threat” portrayal of Audie Gemora, as well as standout characterizations in other Rep shows by Mitch Valdes, Freddie Santos, Monique Wilson, Cocoy Laurel, Michael Williams, Miguel Faustman, Cris Villonco, Maan Hontiveros, Jay Glorioso, Celia Diaz-Laurel, EJ Villacorta, Joy Virata, Enchang Kaimo, Susan Calo-Medina, Leo Martinez, JM Rodriguez and Howard Collins.
Thanks, guys, for the thespic and personal memories—and (continue to) break a leg!
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