Monday, April 18, 2011
CHASING TOFF By Christopher De Venecia The Philippine Star Updated April 15, 2011 12:00 AM
When you’re rapping about the business of show business, you’re probably reeling off on three kinds of individuals: the movie star, the TV personality, and the thespian. But due to the varying techniques, disciplines, and sometimes, even years of training that each one entails, for practitioners, it’s hardly ever an either-or.
Once in a blue moon, however, you encounter artists like Nikki Gil and Kris Lawrence who are willing to train and engage in a series of out-of-body experiences, all in pursuit of holistic, 360-degree artistic expression.
It must be all the Daniel Radcliffes, Christina Applegates, and Hugh Jackmans of this world all heading down the mountain of tinsel town and flying east to conquer the stage, and ultimately, the Great White Way. Such that when Nicholas Cage claims, “To be a good actor, you have to be something like a criminal, to be willing to break the rules to strive for something new,” you can’t help but wonder if he’s actually gabbing about the worthy endeavors of these two.
From preparations to sweet escapes, and for one of ‘em, what it’s like to share the stage and possibly a stage kiss with his best friend’s gal, Young Star gets up-close and personal with the stars of 9 Works Theatrical’s forthcoming musical extravaganza, the Bob Fosse dance comedy musical, Sweet Charity.
YOUNG STAR: What role do you play in the show?
Nikki Gil: I play Charity Hope Valentine, a genuinely “nice” individual who wanted nothing more than to be loved. She works as a dance hall hostess and easily falls for any guy who would give her the slightest bit of attention.
Kris Lawrence: I play Oscar, Sweet Charity’s love interest. He’s a regular Joe Shmoe that somehow catches Charity’s attention with his boyish charm.
You were last seen as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde the Musical. How would you compare the two roles?
Nikki: Elle’s journey revolved around getting Warner to love her. Charity’s journey revolves around getting anyone to love her. Charity is more naïve and more easily manipulated, which is why many take advantage of her kindness. Elle is more gutsy and feisty and knew what she had to do to get what she wanted. Both characters are easy to love and they are both fun.
This is the first time you’re venturing into the world of musical theater. What made you decide to take the leap?
Kris: I’ve always been a fan of musicals, and my sister played Kim in Miss Saigon for six years… So, I thought I’d give it a shot and try something new.
You’re playing a role that was popularized by Christina Applegate in a recent Broadway revival. Any pressure coming into this?
Nikki: As soon as I am handed the responsibility of a role, the pressure begins. This is positive pressure, however. Christina Applegate did a fantastic job as Charity. Shirley MacLaine did an amazing job in the movie version. I believe the challenge is in creating my own version of Charity which, of course, would only be possible with the help of direk Robbie and a wonderful cast.
How does it feel to be Nikki’s love interest? Do you have some sort of gentleman’s agreement with Billy?
Kris: You know what… one of the first questions I asked was if there’s going to be a kissing scene kasi she’s the girlfriend of one my best friends. When me and Billy were hangin’ out one night, he said, “Dude…that kiss better be a staged kiss, ayt?”(laughs) I think it’ll be fun actually.
Sweet Charity is known to be a heavy dance musical. I mean, it’s from the iconic Bob Fosse, creator of the musicalChicago. What kind of preparations are you doing for the role?
Nikki: Bob Fosse’s style is very distinct. It’s the small details that separate this kind of dancing from other genres. I am definitely getting help from a professional and will be going through dance classes for this one.
People know you to be the smooth R&B crooner. What kind of Kris Lawrence can people expect from this show?
Kris: Actually I’m kind of excited to see what different side of me it’ll bring out! This is the opposite of what I do. If R&B was night, this is day. If R&B is yin, this is yang. When I auditioned for the part, they asked me if I was willing to change the way I sang for this project. I laughed in my head ‘cause I pictured a Chris Brown image with a Josh Groban voice. I think it’s going to be an interesting fusion.
Any fears or challenges coming into this?
Nikki: Anything Bob Fosse is intimidating! But I believe with hard work, a fabulous cast and a fantastic director, we will be able to come up with a version of Sweet Charity unlike any other.
Kris: Jumping into something new always brings out the heebie-jeebies in people. I feel like I’m jumping into an ice-cold swimming pool butt-naked! But at the end of the day, it’s a performance and I’m very anxious to see what kind of performance God will course through me this time.
What’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever done for someone?
Nikki: My boyfriend’s family lives in the US. And for his birthday, he wanted nothing more than to be surrounded by family. So for his birthday dinner, I “lent” him my family and threw him a surprise party.
Kris: The sweetest thing I’ve ever done for someone was send them on a Scavenger Hunt with clues and at every stop was a nice gift for them to enjoy.
Describe your sweetest escape.
Nikki: I have always wanted to go to Paris.
Kris: For me and a special someone (whoever that may be) ... to spend a couple of days in Amanpulo. Every night, we’ll have dinner under the stars, just us two. Every morning, breakfast on the beach, and just great conversation all throughout.
What’s your sweetest indulgence?
Nikki: Anyone close to me will tell you that candy plays a major role in my diet. It is part of my food groups.
Kris: I’m such a sucker for chocolates! Can’t say no to them, especially Patchi and White Chocolate Royce!
Finally, why should we see go see this musical?
Nikki: Sweet Charity is a classic! The music is beautiful and the choreography exciting!
Kris: It’s definitely gonna be a huge production. The female cast is an all-star line-up… And you’ll laugh a lot, that’s for sure. Great show-stopping numbers and you’ll see Nikki Gil at her best and me in a totally different element. And come on…9 Works is doing it!
* * *Sweet Charity, the Bob Fosse dance-musical-comedy, will open in August at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, directed by Robbie Guevara. For show buying and fundraising opportunities, call 557-5860 or 0917-5545560, or visit www.9workstheatrical.com. You may also log on to www.facebook.com/9workstheatrical for more info about the show and the rest of the cast.