Meet the Cast of Rep’s ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’
This coming January, Repertory Philippines will be staging Christopher Durang’s 2013 Tony Award Winner for Best Play, ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ with director Bart Guingona at the helm.
Bart Guingona: “We’re really excited about this piece because it’s so well-written number one, and number two, we’ve assembled a dream cast.”
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a witty piece that cleverly mixes in Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s characters. The show tells us the story of Vanya, Sonia, and Masha, three siblings named after Chekhov’s characters. Unfortunately, they all happen to be living their namesake’s unhappiness.
The company has assembled quite a casting coup—Vanya will be played by veteran actor and director Michael Williams, Sonia will be played by Philstage Gawad Buhay Awardee Roselyn Perez, and Masha will be played by film, TV, and theater actress Cherie Gil. Spike, Masha’s young boyfriend, will be played by theater veteran Joaquin Valdes.
Cherie: “I play Masha, the youngest of the siblings. I play the role of the actress in her mid-life. She comes home after not visiting for so long. She’s a celebrity blockbuster actress more known for her commercial films and comes home with this young boyfriend and there you’ll find out the process that she goes through trying to deal with her aging and going through her denial about it. And dealing with life’s demands and wanting to come home and settle everything in terms of the finances.”
Cherie Gil most recently played Enriquetta Jardeleza-Sofronio in Arbol de Fuego, PETA’s adaptation of Chekhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’ last February 2015.
“After doing Arbol [de Fuego], which was an adaptation of Chekhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’, we thought this would be the perfect next thing to do. Something different, a satire on Chekhov’s plays, the characters, and something comedy naman para I don’t have to breakdown during the rehearsal process because I tend to do that.”
(READ: Cherie Gil Headlines ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’, REP’s 2017 Season opener)
Michael Williams: “I play Vanya and Vanya is an observer and he’s a guy that feels so much about everything but kind of keeps it in. He’s stuck in this place with her (Roselyn) and he’s just trying to hold it down until he can’t anymore. Until he gets that explosive 4 page monologue… But I’m really happy to be in this cast with this bunch of people.”
Roselyn Perez: “I play Sonia. She’s never been married. Never been in love and no one’s ever been in love with her. But she’s in love with Vanya because I’m an adopted sister. She is awkward. She is unsure of herself. She is full of regret. Their parents had Alzheimer’s and they both took care of their parents for many years. So that’s been her life. And Vanya’s too as well… I find her so interesting and so different from the usual characters that I play. I remember telling Bart that I wanted to do a comedy naman because I’m always doing heavy drama.”
Joaquin Valdes: “I play Spike. Spike is Masha’s boy toy… He is the anti-thesis of who they are. He’s a millennial. He doesn’t really have a wide or deep attention span. He’s full of himself. His dream job, and dream in life is to be part of ‘Jersey Shore’ or ‘Entourage’, so that says a lot about him. He’s also an actor, and he thinks pretty highly of himself… He’s everything that the brothers or sisters aren’t.”
“For a good part of the show, I’m practically naked. And that’s really why he cast me. (laughs) Bart made sure when he casted me a couple of months ago, ‘You better look good in January! That’s why you’re casted!’”
Mica Pineda: “I play Nina. I’m the ingénue. I’m the next-door neighbor. Actually I’m visiting my aunt and uncle and I happen to be the avid fan of Masha and I just want to be like her. I’m also an aspiring actress. She’s very young but she also has an old soul so a lot of the movies that she watches and the stuff that she likes are the older stuff.”
But ultimately, what drew this cast to do the show?
Cherie: “These are thespians of theater and icons in the theater world and I’ve always wanted so much to learn what it takes to go through that acting process in a different sense aside from what I normally do in soaps and films… so I’m like in awe every time I watch the rehearsals and how they just get right into it. And of course, at the same time, get a chance to play opposite a young man and touch a man’s body (laughs). How often do you get that right? I’m never casted in soaps with a leading man because the bitch never gets the man.”
“So now at least in theater I can be more versatile. I can play wonderful roles such as this and touch his heart.” (laughs)
“And I also feel very connected to the role. Very close to home. I play an actress. As I am, I can play up my own personal journey and where I am in this point of my life. I am in my mid-life crisis. (laughs) I’m in the middle age. And it’s great to be able to play around that truth and laugh at it. And in that way it also helps me come to terms with that. And there’s so much truth, the way it was written. The words are snappy. He’s [Christopher Durang] the same writer as House of Cards so it’s very contemporary.”
Roselyn Perez: “I can’t wait for rehearsals. Sometimes I feel like we don’t rehearse enough. (laughs) I wanna stretch the hours because with a cast like this you just want to keep going and going. I don’t care. I can spend 8 to 10 hours. I just love it. It’s just been really delicious for us.”
For the people who feel a little intimidated by the premise, director Bart Guingona reassures us that it’s going to be a good time for everyone.
Bart Guingona: “You don’t need to know Chekhov to enjoy. As a matter of fact, after seeing this and laughing hard, you’re going to want to read Chekhov to see how close he was to them and what the references are.”
“He [Christopher Durang] was obviously a Chekhov fan but what he does is he has taken Chekhov and made it contemporary and made it very, very funny.”
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