State of the Stage 2024: Manila’s Upcoming Theater Scene
A total of 20 productions have been announced so far!
Revenge theater was in full swing in 2023 and 2024 already seems poised to become even busier. I can’t tell you how many producers have approached us, saying, “Hala, paano na iyung schedule niyo next year sa dami ng shows?” Yes theater fans, we are definitely in for a wild ride. This year alone, I personally watched a total of 66 shows, not including reruns and multiple rewatchings for different cast permutations (or for the sheer delight of it) within the year. Other members of our team might have watched even more than that.
That’s enough about this year. Now, we’d like to talk about the upcoming year.
To avoid getting overwhelmed, we’ve always preferred providing some structure to our theater experiences. We’d like to share this structure with you by listing all 20 shows announced so far by each company.
PETA has announced that it will be staging ‘One More Chance the Musical’, featuring the music of Ben&Ben, this April at the PETA Theater Center. Auditions were concluded last December 4-5.
You can watch the announcement made by Ben&Ben themselves at the closing night curtain call of Walang Aray in the video below.
Meanwhile, PETA Plus will be doing a revival of Kumprontasyon, a three, one-act play production (which previously ran as a thesis by show director Melvin Lee last September) from January 18-21 at the PETA Theater Center. It includes Lakambini by Allan Palileo, featuring performances by Sherry Lara and Teroy Guzman, The Impossible Dream by Guelan Luarca, featuring performances by Romnick Sarmenta and Ron Capinding, and A Color for Tomorrow by Joshua Lim So, featuring performances by Missy Maramara, Adrienne Vergara, Gillian Vicencio, Eric Dela Cruz, and Carlon Matobato. All three plays aim to challenge the audience to confront our country’s unresolved historical past.
For 9 Works Theatrical, the company will be restaging ‘Rent’ as its first production for the year. Auditions were held last September 25-26, so we should expect casting to be announced very soon. You can watch the cast of Tick Tick Boom make the announcement at their closing show curtain call below.
Its sister company, The Sandbox Collective, announced three productions for its upcoming season– the Broadway musical ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ in February, the Off-Broadway musical ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ in July, and the Manila premiere of ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’, based on the bestselling book by Cheryl Strayed and adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos, in November.
The full cast for Spelling Bee has recently been unveiled, featuring actors from diverse performing backgrounds, from Star Magic talents, to young theater professionals, to theater veterans making their awaited return to the stage. The show will run from February to March at the PowerMac Center Spotlight Blackbox Theater, Circuit Makati, directed by Missy Maramara, with musical direction by Rony Fortich. Little Shop of Horrors will run during the second half of the year under the direction of The Sandbox Collective’s Managing Artistic Director, Toff De Venecia, with musical direction by pianist and musical director Ejay Yatco. Tiny Beautiful Things will have a 3-week limited engagement in November at the Zobel De Ayala Recital Hall, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, BGC, to be directed by Jenny Jamora.
Newport World Resorts will be staging the original jukebox musical ‘Buruguduystunstugudunstuy: Ang Parokya ni Edgar Musical’ at the Newport Performing Arts Theater. The company has just announced its full cast, which is led by Felicity Kyle Napuli, Marynor Madamesila, Tex Ordoñez-De Leon, and Natasha Cabrera. It is directed by Dexter M. Santos, with a book by Rody Vera and musical direction and arrangement by Ejay Yatco.
You can watch the leads inviting theater fans to catch the show below.
@theaterfansmnl The cast of ‘Buruguduystunstugudunstuy: Ang Parokya ni Edgar Musical’, led by @Felicity Kyle Napuli, @Marynor Madamesila, Tex Ordoñex-De Leon, and @Natasha Cabrera, together with supporting cast members Pepe Herrera, Nicco Manalo, @Noel Comia Jr, and Jasper Jimenez invites all theater fans to catch the show in 2024 at the @Newport World Resorts! You can read about the full cast by clicking our link in bio. #Buruguduystunstugudunstuy #AngPNEMusical ♬ original sound – TheaterFansManila.com
Repertory Philippines will be mounting four productions– the British play ‘Betrayal’ by Harold Pinter from March 1-17 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of RCBC Plaza, the Off-Broadway musical ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’ by Joe Di Pietro and Jimmy Roberts from June 7-30 at the same venue, the original REP’s Theater for Young Audiences (RTYA) musical ‘Jepoy and the Magic Circle’ by Rody Vera and Ejay Yatco based on a children’s short story by Gilda Cordero Fernando, and the original jukebox musical ‘Going Home to Christmas’, featuring the music of Jose Mari Chan, book by Robbie Guevara, Luna Griño-Inocian, and Joel Trinidad, with additional scenes by Cathy Azanza-Dy, and music arrangement by Ejay Yatco.
Betrayal will feature London-based Filipino actors James Bradwell, James Cooney, and Vanessa White, with Jef Flores and Regina De Vera as covers. It will be directed by Manila-born and New-York and London-based actor and theater director Victor Lirio. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change will be directed by Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, with musical direction by Ejay Yatco and assistant direction by Cara Barredo. Jepoy and the Magic Circle will be directed by RTYA Creative Director Joy Virata, with assistant direction by Cara Barredo, while Going Home to Christmas will be directed by Leo Rialp, with Jeremy Domingo as assistant director.
You can find sneak peeks from the company’s season launch in the videos below.
Alice Reyes Dance Philippines’ Rama, Hari, which ran at The Metropolitan Theater and at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater last September 2023, will be having a rerun in February. The Filipino modern rock opera ballet is a collaboration of five National Artists– Alice Reyes for direction and choreography, Ryan Cayabyab for music, Salvador Bernal for production design, Bienvenido Lumbera for the libretto, and English translations by Rolando Tinio. An adaptation of the Sanskrit epic poem Ramayana, Rama, Hari features singers in the Filipino music industry and incorporates traditional theater, song, and dance devices found and shared among Asian nations. Returning cast members have yet to be announced.
You can find performance excerpts from the 2023 cast below.
GMG Productions will bring the touring production of ‘Miss Saigon’ to the Theatre at Solaire from March 23 to May 5. The new production is directed by Laurence Connor, featuring a musical staging by Bob Avian with extra choreography by Geoffrey Garratt. Casting has yet to be announced.
Tanghalang Pilipino will be staging its final production for its 37th season this March 1-24 with the debut of ‘Pingkian: Isang Musikal’, an exploration of Emilio Jacinto’s life during the tail end of the Philippine revolution up to the start of the Philippine-American war. The show will star Vic Robinson as Emilio Jacinto and Gab Pangilinan as his wife, Catalina de Jesus. It will be directed by Jenny Jamora, with a book by Juan Ekis and music by Ejay Yatco, who also serves as musical director.
Here is a first look of Vic Robinson and Gab Pangilinan singing songs from the musical below.
CAST PH has also announced its full season, starting with a new original Filipino play entitled ‘Patintero sa Ayala Avenue,’ starring Zoë de Ocampo in June. It is written and directed by Rafael Jimenez. It will be followed by Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ in October, to be directed by CAST PH’s Artistic Director Nelsito Gomez, starring Tarek El Tayech as Othello, Gab Pangilinan as Desdemona, Maronne Cruz as Emilia, and Reb Atadero as Iago.
You can find CAST PH’s Artistic Director Nelsito Gomez announce their upcoming season below.
@theaterfansmnl CAST PH’s third and last staged reading was a live radio play adaptation of It’s A Wonderful Life by Joe Landry directed by Jaime Del Mundo, featuring performances by Nelsito Gomez, Maronne Cruz, @Mrs.Mikkie Volante | Wife Life, Noel Rayos, and Robbie Guevara and stage management by @🌸 katsu 🌸 ♬ original sound – TheaterFansManila.com
CCP’s annual festival, The Virgin Labfest (VLF), is also returning with 12 new untried, untested, and unstaged plays already announced. Three plays from this year’s VLF that will be revisited next year are Zheg Arban’s Room 209, directed by Delphine Buencamino; Andrew Estacio’s Ang Awit ng Dalagang Marmol, directed by Nazer Degayo Salcedo; and Dingdong Novenario’s Dominador Gonzales, National Artist, directed by George de Jesus III.
The Philippine Stagers Foundation will be touring their original musical Hero Z around Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao until May 2024. It is a zombie historical fiction musical based on the lives of Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Sultan Kudarat, and Apolinario Mabini written and directed by the company’s Artistic Director Vince Tañada with music by Pipo Cifra. It features Johnrey Rivas, Vean Olmedo, Adelle Ibarrientos, Gerald Magallanes, OJ Arci, Fidel Redado, JP Lopez, and the Philstagers Ensemble.
Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas (Mulat Theater) will also take ‘Prinsipe Bahaghari’ on tour in 2024, starting in January at the PowerMac Center Spotlight Blackbox Theater in Circuit Makati. The show, staged last November 2023 at the Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Teatro Papet Museo, Teacher’s Village, Quezon City, is written by Vladimeir Gonzales and directed by Aina Ramolete.
Dulaang UP’s ‘Kung Paano Nanalo sa Karera si Rosang Taba’, based on Dean Francis Alfar’s short story ‘How Rosang Taba Won the Race,’ adapted by Rody Vera and Maynard Manansala, is returning this April. Directed by Jose Estrella, with co-directors Issa Manalo Lopez and Mark Daniel Dalacat, the play starring Kiki Baento in the titular role was staged at the University Theater Main Stage of UP Diliman last March 23-April 2, 2023.
And that is it so far! You can surely expect many more announcements over the upcoming months. Stay tuned to TFM to stay updated!