Sunday, January 24, 2010

CHASING TOFF: One Song Glory

Finally I was able to write a column FOR YOUNG STAR after like a whole month. I will try to be more active in writing it from now on. Make that AN ANNEX for 2000 and Thin! Fuck I'm so think! If looks can be deceiving, THEN THIS HAS GOT TO BE ONE OF THOSE THINGS.

No photoOne song glory
CHASING TOFF By Christopher De Venecia (The Philippine Star) Updated January 22, 2010 12:00 AM

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Gian Magdangal: I’m a frustrated sportsman. I’ve always wanted to be athletic, like Tiger Woods but without the mistresses. Photos byJojit Lorenzo
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You’ve probably heard or seen online, via word of mouth or Facebook that Rent The Musical is coming back to Manila. The play that revolutionized Broadway in the ’90s and became a definitive moment for a new generation of theatergoers and aficionados back then is coming to our shores in February of this year under the mantle of Manila’s newest theater company, 9 Works Theatrical.
With a brand new cast, a brand new staging in a brand new era post-millennium and post-recession, this staging becomes a sort of deus ex machina for theater fans, Rent-heads, and the curious lot who have been clamoring for musical’s return since the New Voice and Atlantis’ staging in the late ’90s.
I remember being in grade school when Rent came out here in the Philippines, and I wasn’t allowed to watch because of the age limit. Of course, Rent tackled matters like homosexuality, the spread of AIDS, and other themes that weren’t very suitable to young audiences and weren’t very clear to us back then. But one thing was crystal. Everyone became a surefire and sucker for “Seasons of Love,” Rent’s beloved show tune that defined the many ways in which one measures a year in his life — in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights and cups of coffee…
On a Saturday Afternoon at the Rockwell Club where the cast rehearses, I was able to squeeze in a one-on-two interview with the two male leads of Rent. The one playing Roger is a passionate songwriter, recording artist, and regular of noontime show SOP, while the other, who plays Mark, is an up and coming theater actor who starred opposite Sam Concepcion in N.O.A.H. Meet Gian Magdangal and Fredison Lo.

PHILIPPINE STAR: What was the feeling like when you got the role?
GIAN MAGDANGAL : I had mixed feelings at first. Roger was a dream role but it was a thing that made me question if I could really do it. Rent, for me, is respectable material and I’ve always admired the music and the actors who came out in the first version.

FRED LO: I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting to get it at all. It’s only been like my secondprofessional play ever – the first being N.O.A.H. And also, I felt nervous because the role of Mark is so iconic.

What’s a day like in rehearsals?
Fred: It’s fun! But it’s also rather tiring and stressful. It’s not an easy play to do. Aside from the notes, and the blocking, there’s so much emotional baggage. And you have to stay true to the message.

What’s it like to work with your director Robbie Guevara?
Gian: We worked together in Beauty and the Beast and Footloose. He’s a cool guy, very direct to the point. He gives you the responsibility to think about the role and he makes you come up with your own objectives. It’s not all spoon-feeding.
Fred: At first I was really afraid of him. Now, he’s like a brother and a teacher at the same time…

Are you guys buddy-buddy on set and off set?
Gian: Well I always beat him up. Haha. Nah, this is the first time we met. And we’ve gotten to be chums. And we’re both from La Salle, which in itself is already a comfort zone.

What sparks the bro-mance?
Fred: I love how laidback he is. At first I was scared coz he did Pinoy Idol and he comes out in SOP. So I thought it would be hard to get to know him.
Gian: Good answer. Linibre ko yan kanina eh. Haha. Si Fred, he’s cool. He’s very mature for his age. I don’t have that much 20-year old barkadas.

Fill in the blank. I love RENT the way I love _______.
Gian: Chocolate
Fred: My friends. The special ones – uy!

Describe your characters.
Fred: Mark is a narrator. My take on him is he’s a bit of a know-it-all. He always thinks he’s right. And subtly, he kinda judges everyone, especially the characters in the play who have AIDS coz he doesn’t. But he realizes things about himself in the end. He hides behind his work, a lot.
Gian: Roger’s pretty intense. He has a lot of baggage. His ex-girlfriend committed suicide. He’s a really complex character so I’m taking it step by step.

Any similarities between the characters you play and your selves in real life?
Gian: I love music. And I was also lost at one point in my life.
Fred: I study film too. And I like hiding behind my work as well.

Interesting fact about you.
Gian: I’m a frustrated sportsman. I’ve always wanted to be athletic, like Tiger Woods but without the mistresses. Haha!
Fred: I’m really an artist. I like to paint though I suck at it.
For Gian, which sits more comfortably with you, performing on TV or theater?
Gian: Well, those are two different worlds. I love TV because you get to reach out to a lot of different people. I love theater because it’s a huge challenge in terms of studying songs, the layers and the meanings.

Any other projects lined up?
Gian: I’m still promoting my album under Sony Music, “Love Tracks.” It sing in it mostly pop rock songs.
For Fred, you’ve been working with a lot of celebrities, from Sam to Gian. Is showbiz something you’d consider as well?
Fred: Well it’s not really something I’m looking into right now especially since I’m still in college. Maybe down the line.

Any pressure to live up to the legacy of the first Rent?
Gian: Calvin Millado (who played the original Roger for the Manila production) is a good friend. But I told myself, I gotta do this. I gotta take the risk. Big risk, big return.
Fred: Of course. But we always say that we do this not to equal or exceed previous versions but to do our own. And at the end of the day, it’s really about getting the message of Rent across. If the message is sent clearly, then we’re successful.

Finally, how would you measure a day in your lives?
Fred: By how many people I touch and how many relationships I make.
Gian: By the number of people I make happy by my singing.
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Rent will run at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, 4th Floor, RCBC Plaza from Feb. 5 to Feb. 28. Fortickets to Feb. 20, Saturday 8 p.m. show, call 810-6093 or 840-1607 or 0917-4461504 and look for Leah and Love. Visit for show listings.

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