Care Divas has been one of PETA’s most successful productions to date. When it was first staged, it dominated the Philstage Gawad Buhay! Awards in 2011. It won seven trophies, including Outstanding Musical Production, Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Musical, and Outstanding Musical Direction for Vincent de Jesus.
The show is a musical that uncovers the joys and pains of five transgender OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers)’s who are working in Israel as care givers by day and as drag queen performers by night.
Familiar faces returning
For PETA’s 50th year, the company decided to stage the musical twice: earlier this year from February 3 to March 19, and again on June 24 through July 30.
The previous rerun featured new cast members like Red Concepcion and Jef Flores. For the upcoming run, the performers will be a mix of new and returning cast members. Coming back are Phil Noble (as Jonee, alternating with Thou Reyes), Dominic Miclat-Janssen (as Aryeh / Avi, alternating with Eric dela Cruz), and Jerald Napoles (as Kayla, alternating with Ricci Chan and Gio Gahol).
Napoles (most known to PETA audiences as Tolits in Rak of Aegis) shares that he felt intimidated getting the role 6 years ago, “Siyempre mga kasama ko mga magagaling at mga batikan na actor ng entablado. I’m alternating with Ricci Chan! Ricci Chan is one of the best gay performers and theater actors in the country!”
Care Divas, and shifting demographics
Bringing Care Divas back on stage to celebrate PETA’s 50th anniversary is to highlight its importance in the company’s history. PETA’s president, CB Garrucho, shares that the show is actually one of the productions that brought in non-theatergoers to PETA, “We ran it in 2011 and we were surprised by the kind of audiences that came. They have never stepped foot in theater. Mga galing sa Singapore, galing kung saan-saan.”
According to Garrucho, Care Divas is one of the shows that made Rak of Aegis and other PETA shows possible, bringing new and different audiences to the theater. “That’s how significant Care Divas is to us. Ang dami-dami pumunta na first time goers sa theater.”
Lyricist, composer, arranger, musical director, and actor Vincent de Jesus also saw first-hand how Care Divas created a ripple effect among theatergoers. “During the first run, kasi it’s a play with gay characters. So at first mga bading muna, tapos naging straight couples, families, mga general patronage people.”
Actor Melvin Lee also shares how he has seen PETA widen its audience reach after staging original, relevant musicals like Skin-deep, Care Divas, William, and Rak of Aegis. De Jesus also adds, “Hindi lang sa Care Divas, pero in the last 5 years na napapansin namin sa PETA, iyung hindi nanonood ng theater dati, more and more people are going to theater now. Watching every Saturday with friends. Minsan umuulit.”
Shedding light on migration
Aside from returning original cast members, PETA is also partnering with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). An agency of the Department of Labor, OWWA’s mandate is to take care of OFW’s overseas as well as the families they’ve left behind in the Philippines.
Jojo Sanchez-Nobia, OWWA’s officer-in-charge for advocacy and social marketing, is elated with their partnership with PETA. “We actually support itong mga ganitong plays, particularly iyung mga pang-OFW’s para naman iyung ating mga pamilyang OFW, lalong-lalo na iyung ating mga employees sa mga migration community, ay may nalalamang mas malalim pa tungkol sa issue ng migration.” For National Migration Day on June 7, OWWA is giving away tickets to OFW families for Care Divas’ opening night.
As for people who have seen the show before, director Maribel Legarda says that there’s always something new to see. “What’s interesting is the mix of actors kasi they have alternates and then doon nagiiba iyung temper ng play at iyung mga eksena. They’ll never be the same. They’ll never see the same show again.”
You can buy tickets HERE.