Performance Photos: BALLET MANILA’s GISELLE


A day before Ballet Manila’s CEO and Artistic Director Ma’m Lisa Macuja Elizalde‘s birthday, a fire broke out in the facilities of Star City and damaged the two Theatres that served as home to Ballet Manila for almost two decades. The Star Theater reduced to ashes and damaged the Aliw Theater, two venues close to her heart as these had been personal gifts from her husband Fred Elizalde. A tragic incident which happened just 17 days before the scheduled shows of Giselle, the second Ballet Manila’s production for their 24th season, originally has playdates of October 19 & 20. The next day, Ma’m Lisa announced on her facebook page that the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) offered the venue grant of their Main Theater. Ms. Margie Moran also called to offer and lend the sets and backdrops of Ballet Philippines for Giselle. Ms. Maan Hontiveros and Jeffrey Solares gave them a discount for the Manila Symphony Orchestra. And finally the show goes on and got the playdate of October 17 at the Main theater of the CCP.

Despite of grievances and sorrows, Ma’m Lisa keeps sending positive messages and always says the phrase “WE WILL RISE LIKE A PHOENIX”. She even made it printed in her shirts as a statement. Last thursday, Giselle was successfully presented at the CCP supported by many friends, most from and within the Ballet community.

“Ballet Manila was born in 1995 with nothing but youthful ideals, big dreams, and 12 fearless dancers led by our Artistic Director, the late Eric V. Cruz. We come before you tonight, 57 fearless dancers strong with artistic direction shared between myself and my fellow dreamer, ever-reliable partner, and faithful friend, Osias Barroso. We may be homeless for now, but we are determined to rise like a phoenix and rebuild, to be even more committed and determined to continue our mission and vision of bringing ballet to the people and more people to the ballet.” –Ma’m Lisa on her speech before the show. 

Principal dancers Joan Emery Sia played Giselle and Elpidio Magat as Albrecht, Mark Sumaylo played as Hilarion, Akari Ida as Myrtha, Nicole Barroso and Joshua Enciso as the peasant couple, accompanied by more than 50 Ballet Manila dancers. Music performed by the Manila Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Alexander Vikulov.

Here are some of my captured images from the historical and lovely presentation of Ballet Manila’s GISELLE at the CCP:



For further announcements and updates regarding Ballet Manila’s upcoming shows. Follow their Official Social Media accounts on facebook, twitter and Instagram. Also visit their official website at

* Photographs by Erickson Dela Cruz © 2019

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News: Repertory Philippines’ 2020 season holds a mirror up to human life

(5) 2020 Season Directors

Throughout its 53-year illustrious history, Repertory Philippines has allowed audiences to see the world with new eyes. By transporting them back in time or putting them in the shoes of another, REP has always reflected humanity in all its great diversity. For its 83rd season, REP is holding up a mirror to different experiences, highlighting stories that are both unique and familiar.

With Liesl Batucan on her first season as REP’s Artistic Director, audiences can expect a new creative spirit that remains faithful to REP’s legacy while bringing it forward, as she assembles a brilliant and diverse core of creatives who will be making their debut in the REP director’s chair; celebrated thespians who will be treading the REP boards for the first time; and REP veterans who will be making their much-awaited theater comeback.

Tarek el Tayech (as HE), and Missy Maramara (as SHE) are caught in a delightful mess in the romantic comedy Stage Kiss.

The 2020 season opens with The New York Times’ Critic’s Pick of 2014, Stage Kiss by American playwright Sarah Ruhl, which runs from February 7 to March 1, 2020. This romantic comedy takes audiences backstage and introduces them to She and He, two stage actors who find themselves cast as lovers in a 1930s melodrama. But She and He have a romantic history together, and after sharing several stage kisses as their characters, they unintentionally rekindle their love. A deliciously witty and insightful play about life imitating art and art imitating life, Stage Kiss stars Missy Maramara, Tarek El Tayech, Andres Borromeo, Justine Narciso and Mica Pineda, among others, and is directed by Carlos Siguion-Reyna, renowned and multi-awarded filmmaker of critically-acclaimed movies Hihintayin Kita sa Langit, Ligaya ang Itawag Mo sa Akin, and Azucena.

Gab Pangilinan (as Marela) contemplates how Tolstoy’s ANNA KARENINA ominously intertwines with their lives in Anna in the Tropics.

From March 13 to April 5, 2020, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics by Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz comes to the REP stage. When Juan Julian arrives in Tampa, Florida in 1929, he unwittingly heralds change in the Cuban cigar factory where he has been employed as a lector. As he reads aloud from Leo Tolstoy’s passionate Anna Karenina, the workers soon find the story creeping into their lives and informing their decisions. Marriages collapse, affairs are pursued, and tensions run high as the workers are confronted with the threat of automation. To be directed by New York-based noted production designer Joey Mendoza and starring Ana Abad Santos, Jake Macapagal, Paolo O’ Hara, Brian Sy, Gab Pangilinan, Gie Onida and Madeleine Nicolas, Anna in the Tropics paints a sympathetic portrait of oppressed laborers and lovers who flout tradition, as it shows the transformative power of literature.

Gian Magdangal (as Billy Bigelow) and Nikki Gil (as Julie Jordan) grapple with issues of love, forgiveness and redemption in the award-winning musical Carousel.

The universally-loved and enduring favorite Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical Carousel caps off the season and runs from May 1 to 24, 2020. Helmed by much lauded young director Toff de Venecia, the production showcases a star-studded cast led by the luminous pairing of Nikki Gil and Gian Magdangal, who will both be making their REP debut. The musical follows a poor young couple, millhouse worker Julie Jordan and carousel barker Billy Bigelow. When they both lose their jobs because of their whirlwind love affair, Billy is pressured into committing theft to provide for their unborn child. After everything goes tragically wrong, he is given a chance to make things right. Hailed as TIME Magazine’s Best Musical of the 20th Century, Carousel explores the heartbreak and complexities that make its characters so tragically and wonderfully human.

Snow White and the Prince brings a beloved fairy tale to life for families everywhere.

REP 2020 ends with REP Theater for Young Audiences’ (RTYA’s) children’s musical Snow White and the Prince by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman. From the same writers of REP’s mega hit 2018 production Rapunzel, Rapunzel, A Very Hairy Fairytale comes this witty new take on a beloved classic. Running from September 12, 2020 to January 31, 2021, this play is directed by none other than the legendary Joy Virata. When Snow White meets her prince at the ball, they fall in love. But when the magic mirror tells the Evil Queen that Snow White is the fairest in all the land, she burns with jealousy. She vows to vanquish Snow White, but the young girl flees into the forest and befriends seven unusual miners. Children of all ages will delight in this fun re-telling of this beloved fairytale that reminds us that people united in goodness are more powerful than the forces of evil.

Ed Lacson Jr. directs for REP Unplugged, REP’s edgy take on alternative theater, which will be launched in June 2020.

For the first time in REP history, audiences will get to experience REP Unplugged, an edgy and exciting new staging concept that is independent—or “unplugged”—from the rest of the season. Directed by theater wunderkind Ed Lacson Jr., REP Unplugged is alternative theater and will be performed in unconventional performance spaces. It will be launched in June 2020 during the interim between REP’s first three plays and its children’s production. Featuring an out-of-the-box approach and a fresh take on theater, REP Unplugged is ready to shake things up.

For the full experience of REP’s 2020 seas0n, purchase season passes now. Season subscribers can get access to REP’s 2020 plays at up to 30% off. The Gold Year Pass (includes 3 season shows + RTYA) costs Php 4,900, the Silver Year Pass (includes 3 season shows + RTYA) is only Php3,700, the Gold Season Pass (includes 3 season shows) is Php 4,200, and the Silver Season Pass (includes 3 season shows) is Php 3,150.

For show-buying and ticket inquiries, contact REP at 8451-1474 or 0966-905-4013. You may also purchase your season passes by calling Ticketworld at 891-9999, or through

For updates and show schedules, log on to, or like and follow repertoryphilippines on Facebook and Instagram.

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The Cast of Sweeney Todd MNL (Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group) Photo by Erickson dela Cruz

For its final musical offering for their 20th Anniversary season, Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group presents SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET this month of October that will run until 27th, 2019 at the Theatre at Solaire. It was previously announced that Tony and Olivier Award winner Lea Salonga and rock icon Jett Pangan lead the cast as Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd, respectively. Joined by Ima Castro as the Beggar Woman, Andrew Fernando as Judge Turpin, Gerald Santos as Anthony Hope, and Nyoy Volante as Adolfo Pirelli. Also joining them are Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante as Johanna, Luigi Quesada as Tobias, Arman Ferrer as Beadle, and Dean Rosen as Jonas Fogg. Completing the ensemble are Steven Conde, Sarah Facuri, Christine Flores, Jep Go, Kevin Guiman, and Emeline Celis Guinid.

Here are some Performance Photos, courtesy of Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group (ATEG) :

SWEENEY TODD is directed by Mr. Bobby Garcia. Set design by Tony Award winner David Gallo, Musical direction by Gerard Salonga along with the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, Costume design by Rajo Laurel. Choreography by Cecile Marinez, Lighting design by Aaron Porter, Hair and Make-up design by Leslie Espinosa, Vocal direction by Manman Angsico, and Sound design by Justin Stasiw.

For Tickets, Go to or contact 891-9999.

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Performance Photos: Ballet Philippines’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Ballet Philippines’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2019)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream reimagined by Carlo Pacis, is the second offering in the Ballet Philippines Golden Year’s repertoire. An enchanted world awaits in a delightful comedy showcasing the genius of William Shakespeare, With the music of Felix Mendelssohn, Scenery and additional costume design of Eric Cruz, And lighting by Jay Aranda.

Here’s an exclusive peek at the some performance photos of Ballet Philippines’ staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
 Photographs by Erickson Dela Cruz

Ballet Philippines’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs from October 11 to 13 in the Main Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

October 11, Friday, 8PM
October 12, Saturday, 2PM
October 12, Saturday, 7PM
October 13, Sunday, 2PM


Connect to Ballet Philippines online through the following social media networks:
Instagram: @balletphilippines
YouTube: balletph
Official Website:

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News: Family Concert with the PPO at the CCP this October

PPO Tricks and Musical Treats – FINAL v2

Tricks and Musical Treats, a PPO Family Concert“, an orchestra appreciation concert for children and families will be held on Sunday, October 27, 2019 at 4:00 PM at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The concert will feature the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in a program subtitled “A Voyage to the Fantasy Isle of Harmony”. The program will feature young talented instrumentalists in a fantasy island setting with main actor Liesl Batucan and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. Nikki Junia will have an inter-active segment with the children who will play percussion instruments. Herminigildo Ranera conducts the orchestra.

The concert introduces the symphony orchestra and its music to children and families in a fun-filled way. The show will be directed by award-winning actor Liesl Batucan.

Pre-concert activities will start at 2:00 PM with a musical instruments petting zoo wherein children can experience playing different orchestral instruments assisted by the members of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. Trick or treat and activities will take place at the Main Theater Lobby at 2:00 PM. The children are encouraged to come in their best fantasy or island setting-inspired costumes.

For more information, please call the CCP Marketing Department at 832-3704 or TicketWorld at 891-9999.

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Ballet Philippines _Dancers _2

The genius of William Shakespeare inspires Hong Kong-based choreographer Carlo Pacis’ magical and reimagined interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

His early days can be traced back to dancing on the Main Theater Stage of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in the 80’s as the dream child of Esther Rimpos in Anton Juan’s Yerma for Ballet Philippines’ Likha. He would then graduate as Valedictorian and Outstanding Artist in Dance of Batch Delarama (’93) from the Philippine High School for the Arts, and after graduating with a BFA in Dance with First-class Honours from The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) in 1998, he joined the Hong Kong Ballet as a senior soloist. He received the Hong Kong Dance Alliance Award in 2002 for his technical artistry and the depth of his dramatic reading of roles and in 2006, the company was invited to perform his work, There’s a Fly in This Soup, at the 1st Asia Pacific Ballet Festival held in Seoul, Korea. He created the additional choreography in Act I for the company’s production of Swan Lake in August 2007 as Choreographic Apprentice under John Meehan and in October that same year he choreographed for Opera Hong Kong’s production of Aida, which also toured to Seoul.

Ballet Philippines’ 50th Season welcomes Carlo Pacis as he reimagines A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the second offering of the company’s Golden Season repertoire.

In 2009, Pacis earned his Master of Fine Arts in Dance degree from HKAPA and his work for Ballet Philippines, Shifting Wait, won the Gawad Buhay 2010 Philstage Award for Outstanding Choreography for a Dance Production. His full-length work of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Ballet Philippines also received five accolades from Gawad Buhay 2013, including the awards for Outstanding Modern Dance Production and Outstanding Choreography for a Dance Production. He was again awarded in 2017 for Outstanding Choreography for a Dance Production from Philstage for his work with Ballet Philippines, Weighted Whispers. Pacis was also the Commissioned Choreographer for the competition solos of The Royal Academy of Dance Genée International Ballet Competition when it was held in Hong Kong in August 2018.

Pacis declares it is a joy for him to come back to Manila and revisit this ballet. He shares, “I am thrilled and humbled that A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been included in Ballet Philippines’ 50th Season.

Felix Mendelssohn’s classic score is merged with this neo-classical spin on the classic tale, breathing new life to the enchanting story about fairies and sprites wreaking havoc on the fates of young lovers trying to find each other through the dark forests of love under the light of the moon. Pacis says in his choreographer’s notes: “Perhaps it is this fascination and preoccupation we have about love that enables the artists of Ballet Philippines to so easily delve into the roles.”

According to Pacis, love is the most prominent theme in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Seemingly inescapable and being the great equalizer, it overlaps the royal, common, and supernatural characters in the story. He adds, “At a time when indifference, prejudice, and hate are all too common, it is the arts that can bring us to who we are and remind us of who we can be. I hope that our rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream can help us all to remember what joy there is in love and that we all have the ability to love, no matter where we are from.”

Ballet Philippines’ homegrown talents essay roles in the delightful comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare.

As Ballet Philippines celebrates its 50th anniversary, the company presents this delightful comedy as the second offering in its golden season, following the resounding success of its season- opening production, the iconic ballet, Swan Lake.

An enchanted world awaits audiences through A Midsummer Night’s Dream, showcasing the genius of Shakespeare and music of Mendelssohn, as well as the choreography of Pacis with scenery of Eric Cruz.

Ballet Philippines’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream show dates and schedules:

Ballet Philippines’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs from October 11 – 13, 2019 at the CCP Main Theater.
Show dates and schedules are as follows:
October 11, 2019 | 8:00 PM
October 12, 2019 | 2:00 PM & 7:00 PM
October 13, 2019 | 2:00 PM & 7:00 PM

Get your tickets exclusively at TicketWorld (891-9999), CCP Box Office (832-3704), or Ballet Philippines Box
Office (551-1003) or online at as well as in all Ticketworld outlets.

For more information, connect to Ballet Philippines online:
Instagram: @balletphilippines
YouTube: balletph
Official Website:

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The Cultural Center of the Philippines is proud to set the stage for Tanghalang Pilipino as is stages “Katsuri“, a local adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel ‘Of Mice and Men‘.

As the play centers on the struggle of sugar plantation workers in Negros, a province beset by land conflicts, audiences will get to understand the varied issues of inequality, and how human relationships can end up affecting a larger group of individuals’ lives and society itself.

KATSURI is adapted for stage by writer Bibeth Orteza, and under the Direction of Carlos Siguion-Reyna. It opens October 4 and will run until October 27 at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Here are some performance photos from the Tanghalang Pilipino’s staging of Katsuri:
Photographs by Erickson dela Cruz

Tickets are available at the CCP Box Office, Ticket2Me, Bliimo and all Ticketworld outlets. For more information, Visit TP Facebook page: or e-mail


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CATS The Musical 2019 – Joanna Ampil banner v2

Due to overwhelming popular demand, producers have just announced that 2 more weeks have been added to the Manila season. The sold-out international production of CATS The Musical will be playing in Manila for a strictly limited season, from 6th of November to December 1st at The Theatre at Solaire.

Ms. Jo Ampil (Photographed by Erickson dela Cruz)

World-renowned theatre star and the Philippines’ very own Joanna Ampil reprises her role as Grizabella. Joanna Ampil has performed in several West End musicals, including Miss Saigon, Jesus Christ Superstar and Avenue Q, and she played the role of Fantine in Les Misérables in London.

Joining her in the cast are Luke Fraser Yates, George Hinson, Gavin Eden, Kirsty Ingram, Elizabeth Futter, Sally Frith, Erica-Jayne Alden, Amy Whittle, Ellie Young, Holly Willock, Danielle Cato, Gabrielle Coca, Cian Hughes, Rhys Batten, Thomas Inge, Mukeni Nel, Lloyd Davies, Abigail Dever, Alexandra Wright, Elly Shaw, Liam Buckland, Lee Nicholson, and Brian O’Muiri. Resident director is Dane Quixall. Further casting to follow.

Based on T.S. Elliot‘s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Cats first returned to the West End in December 2014 reuniting the original creative team – Director Trevor Nunn, Associate Director and Choreographer Gillian Lynne, Designer John Napier and Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Following a second season at the London Palladium in 2015 and a UK Tour in 2016, the production embarked on an international tour in 2017 and now continues to tour the world throughout 2018 and 2019.

On just one special night of the year, all Jellicle cats meet at the Jellicle Ball where Old Deuteronomy, their wise and benevolent leader, makes the Jellicle choice and announces which of them will go up to The Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a whole new Jellicle life.

Cats, one of the longest-running shows in West End and on Broadway, received its world premiere at the New London Theatre in 1981 where it played for 21 record-breaking years and almost 9,000 performances. The production was the winner of the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical. In 1983 the Broadway production became the recipient of seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, and ran for eighteen years. Since its world premiere, Cats has been presented in over 30 countries, has been translated into 15 languages and has been seen by over 73 million people worldwide. Both the original London and Broadway cast recordings won Grammy Awards for Best Cast Album. The classic Lloyd Webber score includes Memory which has been recorded by over 150 artists from Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis to Liberace and Barry Manilow.

The international tour of the Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Theatre production of CATS is again presented by David Ian Productions. RCBC Bankard is a proud sponsor of the 2019 Manila season of CATS.

For more information Please Visit:



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News: Sweeney Todd Celebrates its 40th Anniversary in Manila

Sweeney Todd (Atlantis Theatrical) banner

Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group (ATEG) is thrilled to be staging SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET this October, its final musical offering for its 20th Anniversary season. It was previously announced that Tony and Olivier Award winner Lea Salonga and rock icon Jett Pangan would lead the cast as Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd, respectively. They will be joined by Ima Castro as the Beggar Woman, Andrew Fernando as Judge Turpin, Gerald Santos as Anthony Hope, and Nyoy Volante as Adolfo Pirelli.
Also joining them are Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante, fresh off her critically acclaimed performance as Cynthia Weil in BEAUTIFUL, as Johanna, Luigi Quesada (DANI GIRL, WAITRESS) as Tobias, Arman Ferrer (MABINING MANDIRIGMA, BEAUTIFUL) as Beadle, and Dean Rosen (BEAUTIFUL, WAITRESS) as Jonas Fogg. Completing the ensemble are Steven Conde, Sarah Facuri, Christine Flores, Jep Go, Kevin Guiman, and Emeline Celis Guinid.

Photos from the Press Conference

© Photographs by Erickson Dela Cruz

SWEENEY TODD will be directed by Bobby Garcia and will have set design by Tony Award winner David Gallo, musical direction by Gerard Salonga along with the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, costume design by  Rajo Laurel. choreography by Cecile Marinez, lighting design by Aaron Porter, hair and make-up design by Leslie Espinosa, vocal direction by Manman Angsico, and sound design by Justin Stasiw.

Bobby Garcia says, “We have gathered quite the cast for this retelling of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical thriller. I think we will be bringing to the stage a unique version of SWEENEY TODD, as told by some of the best musical theatre storytellers in the country, led by Lea Salonga and Jett Pangan. I am also so excited to be collaborating wit a creative team full of geniuses in their craft. I can’t wait to begin.”

Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s musical masterpiece SWEENEY TODD has become a bloody, worldwide success since being awarded eight Tony Awards (including Best Musical), for its Broadway premiere, as well as the Oliver Award for Best New Musical. Stephen Sondheim’s and Hugh Wheeler’s (A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures) tasty, thrilling, theatrical treat has simultaneously shocked, awed, and delighted audiences across the world. The Broadway revival went on to win two more Tony Awards taking its total up to 10 Tony Awards. This year also marks the 40th caps Atlantis’ 20th Anniversary season which has included acclaimed runs of Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and the launch of its new division ATLANTIS IMAGINARIUM YOUNG THEATRE (AIYT) with its premiere production Madagascar – A Musical Adventure.

SWEENEY TODD runs from October 11 to 27, 2019 at the Theatre at Solaire. Tickets are now available at or through 891-9999.

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CCP Presents NeoFilipino 2019: AR[RES]T

Neo Filipino 2019 – AR[RES]T

NeoFilipino 2019: Ar[res]t is a dance show that presents expressions of the contemporary Filipino through the dancing body featuring choreographers Ava Villanueva Ong, Biag Gaongen, Georgette Sanchez-Vargas, and JM Cabling, in collaboration with composer Krina Cayabyab, mixed-media installation artist Manny Montelibano, theatre director Tuxqs Rutaquio, and writer Gianne Sanchez-Sanson. The show is directed by renowned choreographer and director Denisa Reyes, with Myra Beltran as artistic consultant and Jay Aranda Lighting Designer.

An initiative of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the culmination of the CCP Choreographers Series, NeoFilipino is a collaborative platform that bridges dance with other artforms and aims to express the voices of Filipino artists and their views of society. With the theme Ar[res]t, this year’s program will highlight the power of dance to seize focus, to arrest a crowd in a frenzy, and to pierce through the noise to arrive at the truth that lies inside the body.

“If we says Cinemalaya, it refers to Films or Movies, as Virgin Labfest is Theatre. Now, We have Neo Filipino and it refers to Dance.” says CCP Vice President and Artistic Director Chris Millado during the press conference.

Aiming to become the prime mover of contemporary dance expressions in Philippine society, the CCP Choreographers Series was envisioned by series directors Denisa Reyes and Myra Beltran with Nes Jardin. The series starts with (1), a competition for emerging choreographers; (2) Koryolab, a laboratory and showcase of experimental dance pieces by mid-career choreographers; and (3) NeoFilipino, a venue for established choreographers to create and stage major works in collaboration with artists of other art forms

The first tier of the three-part platform CCP Choreographers’ Series, is a competition for the solo-duet form, believing that the intimacy and conciseness of these forms pushes choreographers to bare their choreographic vision.
The second tier, Koryolab, is a laboratory and research platform for the development and presentation of experimental dance pieces by mid-career choreographers in a black box space mentored intensively by the pioneers in contemporary dance.

NeoFIlipino serves as a culminating third tier of the series and showcases the finest progressive and innovative works in contemporary dance choreography. It is a platform for Filipino choreographers to make dance the central force, the impetus, and the muscle in collaborating with the other art forms: music, visual arts, literature, theatre and film.


Choreographer: Ava Villanueva-Ong
Music: Krina Cayabyab

“The day I gave birth to my eldest son was the same date my mother gave birth to me.
Everything changed when I became a mother. My body, sleeping hours, food I had to intake and the way I see life at present. Before it was all about dancing and the idea of me proving to people I am this great artist. But now, I worry about different things such as the future and what will it be like for my sons. Will it become worse or better for them to live in?

Artists have different voices. Our choreographies are our instrument to voice out what we would like to say. The piece I created is a piece I would like to dedicate for my two little boys, Dylan and Jacob.

It is a piece about Hope. It is present in the most mundane and the most fundamental of places. We can find it within ourselves and we can be inspired by factors outside ourselves as well. This piece hopes to show hope for everything we are hoping for.”


Choreography and Film Direction: Biag Gaongen
Collaborator: Manny Montelibano

“Skin tattoo is a cultural mark(er) that identifies a specific community such as the Igorots of Kalinga. Apo Whang-od, a Kalinga woman in her 90s is the oldest known tattoo artist in the Cordillera region. Like Whang-od, several Cordillera men and women in her generation wear impressive tattoo designs. Lately, Whang-od had gained immense popularity outside of Kalinga. People would trek through rough terrains to get tattooed in the traditional way.

Putting on tattoo is a ritual that inflicts pain in the body. One could say that having profuse tattoo indicates courage.

While Whang-od’s tattoo is sought out by a growing number of non-Kalinga natives, the branding of Igorots as “indigenous people” resurfaced. I am bothered by the ill-defined meaning/s attached with the term.

Being identified as someone who belongs to the indigenous people from Sagada, Mountain Province had been both an advantage and a disadvantage. Studying and living in Los Banos and Metro Manila, for years, my Igorot ancestry had been utilized by institutions I have been involved with. I am proud to represent a culture deemed pure Filipino (a shifting and developing identity that these institutions have been pursuing all the while). However, it is very unsettling when Igorot culture is treated as a relic exhibited on a museum shelf. A living culture when perceived to have been frozen in time will have its bearers subjected in the same way- unrecognized in the present; crucial issues that affect the lives of the people will thereby be dealt as matters that dwell and should simply be left untouched in the past.

Practices from Cordillera which include tattoo art and folk dances had been explored and exploited by many to assert the Filipino identity. In effect, has it empowered the contemporary Cordillerans? In the relentless efforts of Filipinos to define and re-claim what is truly “Filipino” through the “indigenous people”— culture ends up as someone’s prized souvenir from a bygone era.

In my dance piece, images and symbolisms associated with Cordillera’s tattoo culture will be explored on film and live performance which will be directed, choreographed and performed by myself. Manny Montelibano will be collaborating with me on various aspects of the film; and Jose Centenera Buencamino will compose an original music. Tatak:Ta-tu is ten to twelve minutes long multi-media show.”



Choreographer: Georgette Sanchez

“When I created ARRHYTHMIA for Ballet Philippines’ 50th Anniversary, I did not exactly know where my choreography was centered on, or where it was leading me to. I put together whatever my body was creating, and let my dancers follow from one step to the next.

Once I had something to show, my sister Gianne watched the rehearsal and interpreted what it seemed to look like and feel like from her point of view. My creation, in her eyes, was a moving picture of a human heart.

I want to dramatize what people go through each day, which leads their own human heart to beat accordingly. While other hearts beat for love and life, there are others that beat faster because of anger, or slower because of weakness. There are some even, that can barely beat at all.

When there is no blood to pump, the heart experiences arrest. The irony of it is that, when the blood is too strong to handle, the heart also experiences arrest. It is a challenge to keep that balance amidst all of life’s challenges, be in a state of calm and equilibrium. Pressures in life are inevitable. The pressure to cope up with others…the pressure to push one’s self physically and the pressure to be a somebody.

Yes, beyond all these and many more, we hope to find our own balance and not be held by our own heart’s arrest.

ARRHYTHMIA, now a lengthened version of my piece for BP’s 50th, has become an artwork come to life, of the entirety of the human heart. It’s strength, it’s weaknesses, it’s calm, and it’s arrest.”



Choreography: JM Cabling
Production Design: Tuxqs Rutaquio

“From WiFI Body 2014, to KoryoLab 2017, and now NeoFilipino 2019, my excitement to be the first choreographer to “graduate” from CCP Choreographers Series brings me to a lot of ambitious ideas. But after several attempts to come up with a bolder creation, or a highfalutin concept, it still brings me back to ask, “What do I really want to say?”

I envisioned doing work that is similar to children’s storybooks – simple storytelling, visually engaging, with themes children could comprehend easily but, at the same time, adults would be able to discuss profoundly.

With my collaborator, Sir Tuxqs Rutaquio, we decided to do a dance adaptation of Ang Lihim ni Lea, a Filipino children’s story by Augie Rivera with book illustrations by Ghani Madueño. It was published in 2007 by Adarna House and Soroptimist International of Hope Baguio. It is a story about child sexual abuse.

I personally think the material is something I can take on as a challenge because I really want to learn and explore new ways of storytelling. The theme of the story is also personal because I want to express my stand on the issue of abuse of power. In times when power lies in the hands of abusive people, every opportunity to be defiant is important.”


NeoFilipino: Ar[res]t runs from Oct. 25 to 27, 2019 at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, CCP, at 7pm on the 25th and 27th, and 2pm and 7pm on the 26th. Tickets, which are prized at Php500, can be purchased at or reserved through the CCP Box Office 832-3704 and Ticketworld at 891-9999. 20% discounts apply for Students, Senior Citizens, PWD, Government and Military Personnel.

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GMG Productions

Yesterday it was announced that GMG Productions will begin operations in the Philippines. Headed by Carlos Candal, GMG Productions will bring prestigious musicals to Manila in association with Robert Sewell and a pre-existing production and marketing team, starting with the record-breaking Really Useful Group production CATS the Musical.

Candal excitedly says, “GMG Productions’ core vision and mission remain is to bring top quality theatrical productions to Asia. Audiences will be experiencing more of what Broadway and the West End have to offer, with an exciting line up of shows in the coming years.”

Over the past 30 years, Candal has been a steady co-producer and investor in numerous theatrical shows including On Your Feet (London and World Tour), The Bodyguard (London, United States, Australia, World Tour), Annie (London and World Tour), Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour), Flashdance (World Tour), American Idiot (World Tour), Gypsy (London), Buddy the Buddy Holly Story (London/Broadway and Worldwide) and Rock of Ages (Broadway/ US Tour) to name a few.

Carlos Candal is the founder of Global Marketing Group, a world-renowned business focused exclusively on the development and manufacturing of theatrical merchandise for shows on Broadway, the West End and touring companies around
the world including CATS, MAMMA MIA!, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables in Manila, and Disney’s The Lion King in Manila. GMG has also produced the merchandise for music festivals with artistes like Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Bruno Mars, and Ed Sheeran.

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News: Carlos Siguion-Reyna directs ‘Katsuri’, His first drama for Tanghalang Pilipino

Tanghalang Pilipino KATSURI poster

For Tanghalang Pilipino (TP)’s upcoming powerhouse drama “Katsuri”, esteemed movie and stage director Carlos Siguion-Reyna teams up with multi-awarded writer and coincidentally his real life partner Ms. Bibeth Orteza to come up with a timely adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”. This production goes onstage from October 4 to 27 at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

“Katsuri” tells the harrowing fight for survival of the Sakada (sugar cane workers) in Negros, and how it tends to destory lives and the people’s spirits, including families and friendships.

Direk Carlos Siguion-Reyna. Photo by Erickson dela Cruz

“The play discusses the hardened, threatened lives of the Sakadas, and how they try to survive and overcome their daily ordeals”, says Direk Carlos. “This production reminds everyone of the importance of brotherhood, friendship and hope during these hard times.”

Direk Carlos previously directed TP productions of the sarswela “Walang Sugat”, fantasy “Panaginip sa Isang Gabi ng Gitnang Tag-Araw” and the war epic “Coriolano”. This production of “Katsuri” makes his first outright drama for the resident theater company of CCP.

Tanghalang Pilipino’s resident Actors; Jonathan Tadioan and Marco Viaña

Jonathan Tadioan (will portray the mentally-challenged Toto) and Marco Viaña (the stern George) lead the talented ensemble, which includes the acclaimed members of TP Actors Company; Antonette Go, Lhorvie Nuevo, JV Ibesate, Doray Dayao, Ybes Bagadiong, Eunice Pacia, and Manok Nellas.

Fitz Bitana who has done several plays in the Virgin Labfest is one of their guest actors for “Katsuri”.

Michael Williams

In special roles, theater stalwats Michael Williams and Tata Nanding Josef, also TP’s Artistic Director, complete the impressive roster of actors tapped for the production.

“This production is in line with TP’s aim to educate via theater and the arts”, adds Tata Nanding. “And to highlight  the need for all us to fight for equality, and to not simply accept inequality as a fact of Filipino life. That we have to all play our respective parts in community building to ensure a better future for all of us.”

The Cast and the Artistic Team of Tanghalang Pilipino’s KATSURI. Photographed by Erickson dela Cruz.

Tickets are available at the CCP Box Office, Ticket2Me, Bliimo and all Ticketworld outlets. For more information, Visit TP Facebook page: or e-mail 


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PERFORMANCE PHOTOS: Ricky Lee & Vincent de Jesus’ HIMALA Isang Musikal 2019

_Banner _HIMALA isang Musikal

The Sandbox Collective, in its first collaboration with sister company 9 Works Theatrical wayback in February 2018, restaged one of Philippine theater’s finest and most prized possessions—Ricky Lee and Vincent A. deJesus’ HIMALA: ISANG MUSIKAL.

Based on the cinematic masterpiece by Ricky Lee and Ishmael Bernal, Himala or “miracle”. With music and lyrics by Vincent A. deJesus and book and lyrics by Ricky Lee, Himala broke barriers as one of the most celebrated film-to-stage adaptations in Philippine theater history. Himala: Isang Musikal returns to the stage this year to cap off a milestone season for both The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical, as they celebrate five and ten years in the industry, respectively. With fresh, new faces and refined orchestrations that are poised to make the soundscape even more hauntingly beautiful.

Opening on September 20, 2019 and will have a limited engagement until October 20, 2019 at the Powermac Center Spotlight in Circuit Makati.

Here’s an exclusive peek at the some performance photos of 9 Works Theatrical and The Sandbox Collective’s HIMALA Isang Musikal:

Photographs by Erickson Dela Cruz

Fresh from her West End debut as “Gigi” in Miss Saigon, multimedia star Aicelle Santos makes her highly anticipated comeback in the role of Elsa, for which she recently won a Philstage Gawad Buhay Award for Outstanding Female Lead Performance in a Musical. The multiawarded singer and host holds the title of being the “First Undefeated Pop Superstar” having achieved eight straight wins in the nationwide search, Pinoy Pop Superstar. Some of her recent theater credits include Rak of Aegis, Katy! the Musical, and Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, for which she received an Aliw Award and a Philstage Gawad Buhay Award for Female Featured
Performance in a Musical.

Philstage Gawad Buhay nominees, Kakki Teodoro and Neomi Gonzales both return to their roles of Nimia and Chayong, respectively. Teodoro and Gonzales both received nominations for their critically-acclaimed performances in last year’s run of Himala. Teodoro was most recently seen in The Sandbox Collective’s Every Brilliant Thing, which also earned her a Philstage Gawad Buhay semestral citation. Gonzales was most recently seen in 9 Works Theatrical’s Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!, winner of the 2019 PHILSTAGE Gawad Buhay Award for Outstanding Musical – Original. David Ezra reprises his role as the troubled filmmaker, Orly. A back-to-back Aliw Awardee, Ezra was most recently seen in Mabining Mandirigma and Ang Huling El Bimbo.
Meanwhile, Gawad Buhay and Aliw Award nominee, Floyd Tena also reprises his role as ‘pari’ (priest) in this year’s staging of Himala. Tena was most recently seen in Binondo and Musikal nAPO!

Marking her return to Barrio Cupang is legendary actress and singer, May Bayot-De Castro. She joins the 2019 production of Himala: Isang Musikal in the role of Nanay Saling. Ms. Bayot-De Castro is known for playing the iconic role of “Elsa” in the 2003 original stage adaptation, for which she won the Aliw Award for Best Actress in a Musical. A certified leading lady in Philippine theater, some of her notable performances include Once On This Island, Rama at Sita, Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady, Kleptomaniacs, Ibalong, Sandosenang Sapatos, Carmen and Skin Deep, which earned her a Philstage Gawad Buhay Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

Alternating for the role of Nanay Saling is West End alumna and Philstage Gawad Buhay awardee, Ms. Sheila Francisco, who has the distinct achievement of being nominated for three different productions and categories in a single year. Francisco is also known for having been the very first Filipina to perform at the prestigious National Theater in London, where she received critical acclaim for her performance as “Bloody Mary” in South Pacific’s London and UK Tour. Some of her recent credits include: Portrait Of An Empress, Ang Huling El Bimbo,
Cinderella, La Cage Aux Folles, The Boy In The Bathroom and A Doll’s House Part 2, for which she recently won a Philstage Gawad Buhay Award.

Vic Robinson is thrilled to be celebrating his 10th year in the industry by joining the cast of Himala: Isang Musikal. He is set to alternate with Sandino Martin in the role of Pilo. An actor, commercial model and voice talent, Robinson’s professional career took off when he played the title role in Si Juan Tamad. Some of his notable theater credits include: Sa Wakas. Ang Diyablo at ang Limang Milyong Boto, Batang Rizal, Lola Basyang, FnL, Ako Si Josephine, Tagutaguan and Singapura.

Rounding out the cast are Jon Abella, Roxy Aldiosa, Sigrid Balbas, Gene Barsaga, Jay Barrameda, Patricia Bermudez, Raflesia Bravo, Joshua Cabiladas, Dannielle Cruz, Christian Cusi, Katreen Dela Cruz, Angelo Esperanzate, Marielle Estalani, Mano Domingo, Kits Falcis, Jef Flores, Nel Gumalog, Pam Imperial, Sean Inocencio, Jasper Jimenez, Gary Junsay, Glenda Liao, Alvin Maghanoy, Roby Malubay, Hazel Maranan, Eizel Marcelo, Nathan Molina, Red Nuestro, Ivan Panganiban, Matel Patayon, Cristy Peredo, Neil Ericson Tolentino, Onyl Torres and Jenny Villegas.

Award-winning director, Ed Lacson, Jr., returns to the director’s chair in this year’s re-run of Himala: Isang Musikal. He also doubles as the show’s set designer. Multi-awarded composer and lyricist, Vincent A. deJesus, is at the helm once again as composer, lyricist and musical director. Completing the artistic team are Ricky Lee as writer and lyricist, Barbie Tan-Tiongco as lighting designer, Carlo Pagunaling as costume designer, Jed Balsamo as music consultant, JM Cabling as assistant to the director and Ejay Yatco as assistant musical director.
Toff De Venecia leads the production team as co-executive producer alongside Santi Santamaria, for The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical, respectively. Completing the team are Anna Santamaria as operations and finance director, Sab Jose as marketing and PR director, Maine Manalansan as design director, Erwin Romulo as creative consultant, Charyl De Guzman as production manager, Jonjon Martin as public relations manager and Mara Agleham as head stage manager.

Ricky Lee and Vincent A. deJesus’ HIMALA: ISANG MUSIKAL is co-presented by The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical, in commemoration of their 10/5 anniversaries.

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Shakespeare Rose Theatre

[MANILA, 12 SEPTEMBER 2019]: The producers of UK-based Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre have today announced that they will not be proceeding with their productions of Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, due to be staged at the Theatre at Solaire from 17 to 22 September 2019.

James Cundall, CEO of producer Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and founder of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre said “The publicity we have achieved from the media in Manila is unbelievable and we are immensely grateful for that, but sadly this has not translated into ticket sales, and despite an intense and costly marketing campaign, we have not been able to sell anywhere near the number needed to make the project financially viable.

“It is with great sadness that we have made the decision to cancel the season. The team at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre was incredibly excited about bringing these superb productions to Manila audiences, so this is not a decision we have taken lightly.”

Ticket-holders seeking a refund should contact TicketWorld by calling 8919999 or emailing

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