Theater fans haven’t had enough of Lea Salonga doing musical theater. Fresh from her sold-out Broadway-themed concert last month, she will soon be reprising her role as Helen Bechdel in ATEG’s production of Fun Home.
Its initial run last November 2016 garnered rave reviews, and its last few performances were sold out. Salonga, together with his co-star, Eric Kunze (who plays Bruce Bechdel), expressed excitement over bringing back to Manila this heart-warming musical. Salonga said that they had to do this repeat run because of the clamor that they received from a lot of people who were not able to see the show, and even from those who wanted to experience it again. Kunze echoes this observation, saying that there were a lot of audience members who watched the show more than once. They are hoping that this run will be as successful as the first, and that they hope to ride on the word of mouth from the previous run.
When asked why they decided not to play on a much bigger venue to accommodate a larger audience, Salonga believes that this show works best if staged in a more intimate setting. She says, “a lot of the action is small, and a lot of it is dependent on facial expressions.” She also recalls that there are scenes in the show wherein there are basically just two people sitting and having a conversation, so a lot of the interaction is subtle, which could get lost if the venue is too big.
Because of the nature of the show, director Bobby Garcia kept on reminding his actors to keep it honest and truthful, and not veer towards “performing.” And since they don’t have to play at the back of the house, the show was less challenging physically but more emotionally challenging as actors because Garcia asked them to exercise restraint in acting, while having to chew such heavy and delicate subject matter.
Given that the cast took a three-month break while doing other projects, definitely their new experiences would contribute to their performances this time around. Even in the initial run, Kunze admitted that he had never been able to give the exact same performance because of the complexity of his character. Cris Villonco (who plays Alison Bechdel) is also another actor who was faced with the same challenge because, as Salonga revealed, there were actually a lot of similarities between Villonco’s personal experience and her character in the show.
What fans can be assured of, especially those who will be seeing it again, is that they are keeping most, if not all, of the staging intact because, as Salonga describes it, “there was an exactness to the lighting and sound cues, so there are things that cannot be switched around.” She even mentioned that there were a couple of ideas they were toying around to do, but decided ultimately not to because they wanted to keep the lighting cues.
Fun Home Manila also stars Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante (medium Alison), Yanah Laurel (Joan), and Katie Bradshaw and Andee Achacoso (alternating as small Alison). This show features musical direction by Ceejay Javier, vocal direction by ManMan Angsico, choreography by Cecile Martinez, lighting design by Adam Honore, set design by Faust Peneyra, costume design by Oz Go, sound design by Kevin Heard, production design by GA Fallarme, and hair and make-up design by Johann dela Funete.
The limited repeat run (with only 12 performances) begins on March 10, 2017 and ends on March 19, 2017 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati.
You can buy your tickets here.