Ateneo blueREP has decided to shift gears for its 25th season. After starting its season with a blueREP original entitled Real-life Fairytales, with music written by alumnus and esteemed musical director Ejay Yatco and script written by 3 blueREP members and one Ateneo student, the premier collegiate musical theater organization ends its season with local commercial hit, Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady.
What made them decide to do original local productions? BlueREP Company Manager Bea Racoma mentioned that they really wanted to push for the idea that theater is so much more than just a spectacle. “Iyun iyung sakit ng blueREP noon in terms of our perception of ourselves and maybe the perception of the public towards the org[anization], that due to the nature of our genre which is musical theater, an inherently Western form, it tends to look very happy, very cheery, happy-go-lucky, very light, very big, which is great because musical theater is those things. But it’s not just that. It’s so much more than just that. That’s why for this year we really wanted to diversify not only our line-up but also the types of concepts, the types of stories we were presenting to the org[anization] and to the public because more than anything, musical theater and theater in general is such a powerful and beautiful avenue for discussion and change.”
The company usually stages 3-4 Western musicals in a year. This year, they’ve only staged one, The Addams Family, in between the two original Filipino productions.
Racoma calls staging Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady a “monumental choice” because it will be the first Filipino/ Taglish original Filipino musical that they have ever mounted.
What makes their staging of Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady different from its commercial run?
According to director Issa Manalo Lopez, the show will have a fresh perspective coming from college students, new songs from musical director Kevin Maske, highly choreographed scenes through the help of respected choreographer and actress Delphine Buencamino, beautiful set and costume designs by award-winning production designers of the film Heneral Luna, Carlo Tabije and Ben Padero, and lighting design by esteemed lighting designer Joseph Matheu.
Another interesting change for this run is that Natasha Cabrera, who once played Viva in the original commercial production, will now be taking on the role of Mely. When asked about her decision to switch Cabrera’s role, Lopez said, “Natasha is such a multi-faceted actress and I really think she can take on either role. It also poses as a challenge for her. So I think for Natasha, it’s like a stretching and a reaching for an actor. Kaya we’re super, super, super, happy to have her join us as now, Mely.”
When asked how Cabrera felt about the role switch, she said, “’Nung una talaga, ‘nung sinabi sa akin ni Ate Issa na kukunin niya ako for this, parang nagdalawang-isip talaga ako kasi si Mely…sobrang magkaibang-magkaiba iyung physicality nila ni Viva. Malaki siyang babae. Sabi ko, “Ano iyun, magpapataba ba ako?” Parang iyun talaga iyung iniisip ko pero siyempre hindi ko iyun tinanong sa kanya. Baka kasi pakainin nila ako ng pakainin. (laughs) Tapos inunahan niya kaagad ako na iba iyung take niya, iba iyung concept na ginawa niya for the play so doon ako naencourage.”
Composer and lyricist Vincent de Jesus also mentions that, “It’s a good thing that local theater franchises are being picked up by fellow artists. Kasi dati puro foreign but now local productions like Sa Wakas, [Kung Paano Ako Naging] Leading Lady… it’s good that local theater companies, school-based or professional, are picking up local franchised productions and spreading them. It enriches the whole community.”
Watch Natasha Cabrera sing ‘Buhay Basahan’ and ‘Umayos Ka’, and Kassandra Barnes and Ashe Uy sing ‘Nais Kong Kumawala’. Music and lyrics by Vincent de Jesus.
In a world not too different from our own, the common folk go about the routine of their daily lives — making money, raising families, dealing with problems, falling in and out of love. Their dry existence, however, is occasionally punctuated by the appearance of the greatest defenders of the Republic, Fuwerza Filipinas, a corporate-sponsored band of six superhumans. Though the common folk marvel at the grand exploits of these superheroes as they would the hottest showbiz news, they have little doubt that these heroes are beyond their reach.
What they don’t know is that Fuwerza Filipinas is struggling with a challenge many are well aware of. The superhero team is in dire need of help, specifically domestic help. The heroes used to have an army of housekeeping personnel that answered the heroes’ every whim, but a security breach that happened months prior led to the team having to clean after themselves. This security breach was caused by one of the housekeeping staff who had fallen in love with one of the heroes, Leading Man. And the rest of the heroes have accused Leading Man of, well, “leading” her on.
Leading Man denies this. As far as he’s concerned, he was just being friendly. He has only been with Fuwerza Filipinas for less than a year, and couldn’t understand why the rules forbid any superhero from talking to the common folk. But his concern is beneath Fuwerza Filipinas’ more urgent need: they have to find a maid.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the city of the common folk, Mely Moran tries to make ends meet. Because her mother is unable to work and her sister Viva is unable to be responsible enough, Mely takes whatever job her high-school education can give her. More often, it would be serving as domestic help. Their mother would scold Viva for not being as industrious as Mely, but Viva believes that she is meant for greater things. Mely would likewise berate Viva, though she knows too well that she once did a terrible thing to her sister.
Mely eventually gets a job, but it is unlike any job she could ever hope to have. She finds herself in the vast headquarters of Fuwerza Filipinas, who has chosen her to be the superheroes’ one and only househelp. Viva, on the other hand, gets hired as well, for a job that promises her the kind of prestige she has long been dreaming of. The job, however, will require her to enter the Fuwerza Filipinas headquarters, as she is made to believe that the superheroes aren’t the supreme defenders they project themselves to be.