6 Actors Who Were Cast Last Minute


L-R: Floyd Tena, Kayla Rivera, PJ Rebullida

Did you know that sometimes, actors get asked to take over a stage role almost literally on the last minute due to unforeseen emergencies or circumstances?

Actors Kayla Rivera, Reb Atadero, Teetin Villanueva, Floyd Tena, Cara Barredo, and PJ Rebullida tell us what it was like to take on a role with a head’s up of only a few weeks or even a few hours before curtain!


Let these 6 local actors tell you what it’s like to suddenly be called to the stage:

Kayla Rivera as Carrie in Carrie (Atlantis Theatrical, 2013)

Carrie
Kayla Rivera as Carrie with Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Margaret White

Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante opened the show as Carrie, but fell ill. Kayla took over until Mikkie was able to return to perform for the closing weekend. Kayla ended up doing 9 shows out of 12. Kayla was not part of the production in any way before being cast last minute.

How much time were you given before you had to perform?

I had five and a half days to rehearse the role, memorize my lines, and get into character; beginning music rehearsals that Saturday afternoon after getting off the phone with [Liza Camus], and then opening the show on Friday.

How did you manage your last-minute casting?

Atlantis Theatrical is where my theater career began and is family to me, so as much as I was scared, I knew that this role was being entrusted to me, so I prayed hard about it, and not long after, I found myself at the theater with the rest of the cast, creative and production crew, ready to start learning. 

Timing-wise, the week that I was learning the role happened to be final exam week of my first semester in college, so I ended up having to withdraw from classes, and switched out textbooks for my script and score, and immersed myself with everything Carrie: listening, watching, studying and memorizing.

What did it feel like to actually perform the role?

Being able to perform the role was an experience that taught me so much about myself, the power of prayer, and how important teamwork is. Self-doubt is something all of us deal with on the daily. But the entire experience taught me that if you give no time to doubt and take something head on that initially you’re afraid of, in the end, you just might succeed. 

Reb Atadero in Camp Rock (REP, 2012) and The Sound of Music (Full House Theater Company, 2012), and more

Reb Atadero with the cast of Camp Rock; Photo Credit: JR Sala

Reb took over as ensemble of ‘Camp Rock’ for 4 shows, and 1 show for ‘The Sound of Music. He wasn’t part of either production before being cast last minute.

How much time were you given before you had to perform?

I joined Camp Rock during tech week. For The Sound of Music, I had 2 days.

How did you manage your last-minute casting?

At the time, I was quite eager to prove myself since I had just gotten off a hiatus. I had this hunger. I wanted to do as many productions as humanly possible in a short space of time. I never really had a faculty of, “Oh, no, what if I mess up?” since I knew I wasn’t gonna be alone. I had huge support from every cast I’ve worked with as the last-minute understudy. 

As a way of giving respect to what they’ve done, I was laser-focused on not disrupting the cast’s flow as much as possible. The goal was to make it seem like everything was going according to plan and at the same time, bring a different energy to the show. Hopefully, that’s what I got to do in the end.

What did it feel like to actually perform the role?

It’s the craziest game of improv I’ve ever played and I loved every minute of it. It was complete, spontaneous creation. I didn’t have enough time to explore or get to know these characters as I typically would in a rehearsal. So everything felt like I was creating on the spot. I was completely open to everything. All my senses were dialed up to a billion because everything had to be organic. Everything that happened was literally happening to me for the first time. I just took everything that was happening as it is. Definitely a story to tell the grandchildren.

Teetin Villanueva in Rock of Ages (Atlantis Theatrical, 2014), as Kat in 3 Stars and a Sun (PETA, 2016), and more

3 Stars and a Sun
Teetin Villanueva as Kat in 3 Stars and a Sun; Photo Credit: Vlad Gonzales

Teetin took over an ensemble role after someone backed out in ‘Rock of Ages’. She also took over the role of Kat in ‘3 Stars and a Sun’ after the original cast member was injured during a tech run. She ended up doing 11 shows of ‘Rock of Ages’ and 17 for ‘3 Stars and a Sun’. She wasn’t part of either production before being cast last minute.

How much time were you given before you had to perform?

For Rock of Ages, two weeks rehearsals, 1 week for tech! Only a few weeks to transform from an awkward fresh grad to a confident ensemble girl sexy-dancing and singing rock songs on stage.

For 3 Stars and A Sun, 6 days. No tech run for me! Monday – Music rehearsals, Tuesday – Choreography, Wednesday – Review on my own, Thursday – Blocking. My alternate wasn’t available for the pick-up run so they decided “Isalang na natin si Teetin!

How did you manage your last-minute casting?

I love challenges!

For 3 Stars and a Sun, my first full run-through with the cast on-stage was my opening show! It was also my first time in full costume. I was very excited! When the show started, I trusted my gut and just acted/reacted to whatever my co-actors gave me on stage. There’s really no time to panic once you’re there.

For Rock of Ages, I looked at my tracklist every single time I exited and right before I entered for my next cues because my ensemble track had a lot of quick changes and we had to run a lot (in heels!) in order to make it in time for our entrances (Meralco Theater is huge!). It was a busy show and there was no room for mistakes!

What did it feel like to actually perform the role?

I felt very lucky and thankful. I also felt powerful onstage because those roles represented strong women who are so confident with themselves. Those roles gave me opportunities to explore and showcase different versions of myself. 

Floyd Tena as Rick in Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! (9 Works Theatrical, 2019)

Floyd Tena as Rick in Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!

Floyd, who originally auditioned for the first run, took over Mark Bautista’s role during the rerun due to scheduling conflicts. He ended up doing almost half of the entire run.

How much time were you given before you had to perform?

I think I only had a total of 8 days to learn everything […] And on the first three rehearsal days, I was only at the rehearsal room half of the time as I had to do a show in Resorts World Manila. Originally, I was scheduled to do my first show a month later from the time they called me, but Mark was having schedule conflicts […] So [Robbie Guevara] said, “Ready na iyan si Floyd sa preview!”

How did you manage your last-minute casting?

I love working with 9 Works Theatrical/ The Sandbox Collective. I love APO. And since I had to play a college jock (with a young cast) they asked me if I would be able to manage to lose at least ten pounds (goodbye dadbod) in a month. I love challenges so I said yes. 

At 39, I lost 15lbs in (ten days) and learned a track in 8 days. I did not eat carbs or sweets and did not drink colored beverages. And the warm-up and dance rehearsals helped me lose [the weight] too.

What did it feel like to actually perform the role?

Fulfilling. Knowing that you were able to do it in such a short time and knowing that you collaborated to bring this character to life, priceless. And Mark was so supportive and always ready and available if I had questions.

And to sing those iconic APO songs? In front of them? 

Cara Barredo as Dorina Pineda in Bituing Walang Ningning (Full House Theater Company, 2015)

Cara Barredo as Dorina Pineda in Bituing Walang Ningning; Photo Credit: JM Belandres

Cara, originally part of the ensemble, took over the lead role for 2 shows after the lead actress fell ill during the run.

How much time were you given before you had to perform?

I’d say 4 – 6 hours? I was rehearsing for The Horse and His Boy when I got the call. I just remember flying to Resorts World right after. I was only 100% sure that I was going to go on that night I think 4 hours before!

How did you manage your last-minute casting?

I don’t think I had a choice (laughs). I don’t remember if I was asked. I just knew I had to do it and there was no saying no. I managed really well because of everyone in the cast, the production team, the band. Literally everyone involved in that show helped me survive!

What did it feel like to actually perform the role?

It was great! I definitely enjoyed the role. I felt like I was an explorer. (laughs) Every line thrown towards me and the reactions… basically every interaction I had on stage was a first. It was pretty cool!

PJ Rebullida as Albert in Newsies (9 Works Theatrical, 2017)

PJ Rebullida as Albert in Newsies

PJ, originally the show’s choreographer, took over the role for 3 shows after the original actor suffered a collapsed lung after their 3rd weekend. “Apparently, this can happen for no apparent reason or blunt force to the chest, which was ruled out,” shared PJ.

How much time were you given before you had to perform?

I was sort of prepared. Being choreographer and teacher, I was there every day and worked on everything with Robbie and the cast. So, I knew the play in and out. It was easy for me to use the 4 days before my premiere to review the lines, blocking, and choreography.

How did you manage your last-minute casting?

I love performing. Any chance I can get, I will say: “YES!”, especially for roles and plays I love like Newsies.

The hardest part for me was the stamina. It was the 4th week already. The show is 3 hours long and all the actors were trained for all the acting, singing, dancing, and gymnastics the show required. I knew my steps but I didn’t train to run this marathon. It took a lot of mental focus to keep my level up and energy going.

There is this funny clip of me from my first and only run-through. We had just finished the opening number, Carrying The Banner. This number is like 10 minutes of explosive singing and dancing. We were holding the last pose and you could see my chest heaving heavier than everyone else in the cast. We had a good laugh about that.

In the same run-through, we were doing this epic number, Seize the Day. We were on stage and in one section, a cast member saw me trying to catch my breath. He broke character and laughed in my face. He was like, you are the choreographer, now you get a taste of your own medicine. (laughs)

What did it feel like to actually perform the role?

Stepping on that stage was an affirmation to what hard work, faith, and persistence can create when a group of people come together. We really wanted to create magic–that Disney Magic–that makes people believe in something bigger than themselves. Newsies is about a David versus a Goliath. That show toppled the giant.

 

These interviews were edited for length.

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