WATCH: ‘Ibarra’ Cast Starring Piolo Pascual Performs Songs from the Musical
Tanghalang Una Obra is set to stage Ibarra starring Piolo Pascual in the titular role at the GSIS Theater this June 8 to 18, 2023.
The musical is a re-imagination of Kanser the Musical, which was written by Jomar Fleras (libretto) and Joed Balsamo (music). It opened in 2015 under the direction of Frannie Zamora.
The creative team says that this new staging, still written by Fleras and Balsamo and directed by Zamora, will now be told from the point of view of Crisostomo Ibarra himself.
“We have tweaked some lines para mas maipakita talaga iyung view point ni Ibarra,” shares Balsamo. “At first, akala ko may matatanggal na characters and songs kasi naka-focus na kay Ibarra, pero hindi, nadagdagan pa ng tatlo o apat na kanta. So from the original of 33 songs, it now stands at 37.” He also says that the sequences of the songs have changed.
Balsamo also adds that the 2015 version used a minus one for its music accompaniment. Ibarra, on the other hand, will now have a live 13-piece ensemble from the Manila Symphony Orchestra.
Choreographer and co-director Paul Alexander Morales further says that they used the time they had during the pandemic to go through the material dramaturgically. “Pinag-aralan namin kung paano talaga maitatawid iyung kwento. It’s really been a very collaborative process. So far it’s really a nice momentum, iyung talagang iyung pakiramdam ng lahat iyung wanting to do justice and not just justice, but something fresh also with the material. Something that hopefully can touch us as a modern audience.”
The cast of Ibarra features Piolo Pascual in the titular role, marking his first foray into musical theater. Zamora says that during the pandemic, he thought that if theater would return and if he were to direct the stage production again, he would only want Pascual to play the role. “Gusto ko lang si Piolo lumabas bilang Ibarra kasi lahat ng qualities ni Crisostomo Ibarra, nakita ko sa kanya.”
Pascual shares that he started out in theater at UST as a member of Teatro Tomasino and has not performed in any theatrical show since then. “There would be offers from different theater guilds, mga adaptations ng mga Broadway shows, but never nagswak iyung schedule.” So finally, when this opportunity presented itself during the pandemic, he was thrilled.
“I said if I were to do something, especially a musical which is in my bucket list, it has to be local, it has to be original, and I was wishing and I was hoping it would be Noli Me Tangere because I saw this back in high school, and I was thinking back then na sana, when I get older, I get to play Crisostomo Ibarra because I really fell in love with the novel. So when this came about, when Direk Frannie pitched it, I said yes right away without thinking what I was getting myself into.”
He shares that since this is outside his comfort zone, he has been quite anxious about it. “It’s something totally different, but just the same, it’s something that I have missed, performing to a live audience. Going back to theater is something that I’ve always wanted to do again, and a musical is something I haven’t done before.”
What does playing Crisostomo Ibarra mean to him? “I’m very passionate about our country and Jose Rizal is one of the key people that we look up to, that we try to emulate, and be inspired by,” says Pascual. “So playing Ibarra is a big step for me to remind myself of my identity, of my roots, and knowing what Rizal did through the pseudonym of Ibarra for our country, which is still happening right now.”
“Noli Me Tangere was the first book I ever read in high school and that made an impact in my identity as a Filipino because until now it’s still happening all around us, the corruption and the politics. This is just a metaphor of what’s been happening in our country.”
He adds, “Wala akong gustong i-prove. I just want to be able to do a musical because I want to check it off my bucket list and say nakapag-musical na ako, and then I can move on. Probably do more musicals after.”
Pascual is joined by Myramae Meneses (Maria Clara), Jeffrey Hidalgo (Elias), Floyd Tena (Padre Damas0), Carlo Mañalac (Padre Salvi),Nicole Laurel Asensio (Sisa), JD Tena (Basilio), Elian Santos (Crispin), Jon Joven Uy (Pilosopo Tasyo), and Carla Guevara Laforteza (Doña Victorina).
Also in the cast are Meldea Chua (Doña Consolacion/ ensemble), Richelle Joson (female ensemble/ Sisa cover), Roxy Aldiosa (female ensemble/ Maria Clara cover), Aira Maglinao (female ensemble), Rechelle Maynes (female ensemble), Dianne Fabros Isabel (female ensemble), Paula Paguio (female ensemble/ Doña Consolacion cover), Victoria Mina (female ensemble, Doña Victorina cover), Carlos Canlas (Alferez/ Ibarra understudy), Neil Tolentino (Don Tiburcio/ male ensemble), Roby Malubay (Tenyente Guevarra/ male ensemble), Joseph Magalad Billeza (Padre Damaso alternate/ male ensemble), Anton Nolasco (Lucas/ ensemble), JV Pascual (Tarsilo/ ensemble), Kevin Posadas (alternate Elias), Earle Figuracion (Don Rafael/ Bruno/ Alferez cover/ male ensemble), Ariel Perino (Kapitan Tiyago/ Guardia Civil/ Tauhan/ ensemble), JM Avelino (Sacristan Mayor/ male ensemble), Kiko Cruz III (Sepulturero/ Padre Sibyla/ male ensemble), and Lance Soliman (male ensemble).
You can watch the cast perform songs from the show below.