BWW Phils. Interview: JM De Guzman Talks About Dulaang UP, ‘Angelito,' and More

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"I'll always find the time to go back to my theater roots; everything I know now, I learned it from my professors and directors." - JM De Guzman

New York, November 11, 2011 -- Whether here in the United States or in the Philippines, it's always been a cause for celebration among theater circles when a Filipino stage actor makes it to mainstream entertainment -- think of Glee's Darren Criss, Hannah Montana's Ana Maria Perez de Tagle, and Kitchen Musical's Karylle Tatlonghari and Christian Bautista; add to that growing roster JM De Guzman, ABS-CBN's newest afternoon soap leading man; an Ivory Records' songwriter and recording artist; and Dulaang UP's proud homegrown talent.

Although De Guzman started acting on television via ABS CBN's kiddie show Ang TV, his screen name "Butik," at age four, he considers himself as one of the biz's prodigal sons.  With his consistent, personal conviction on improving his talent in acting, he had opted to take the longer route to mainstream stardom: At age 17 (he's now in his early 20s), he chose to pursue performance studies at the University of the Philippines (UP) instead, and took apprenticeship duties under Dulaang UP, the state university's semi-professional theater arm.

"I realized na I wasn't growing as an actor.  I needed to study because it's my craft that I really love," said De Guzman in an exchange of emails with BroadwayWorld.

Just like everybody else enrolled in a theater program, De Guzman had to learn the littlest details in a theater production such as set and prop designs along with the basic tenets of theater acting prior to landing a lead role in a play or a musical. Dulaang UP's regular patrons last saw him as Basilio in the musical Isang Panaginip na Fili, directed by Floy Quintos, and as Zelim in the Heavy Dance musical Orosman at Zafira, directed by Dexter Santos.

"JM has always been a sweet kid since his college days. He started out as a happy-go-lucky student during his freshman year. But, when he learned that a pretty face would never be enough to become a true artist, he has changed to become [a] more focused and disciplined [student]. He knew that he has to give it all every time an opportunity arises," said stage director Dexter Santos in a separate interview.

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"Sa teatro, nadisiplina ako professionally and personally.  I remember buong araw akong nasa stage at nag-aayos ng set.  Minsan, nasisigawan, namumura at napapahiya din...I'll always find the time to go back to my theater roots; everything I know now, I learned it from my professors and directors: Si Direk Dexter Santos, tinutukan ako; si Professor Tony Mabesa, nainspire ako; at si Direk Alex Cortez, nadisiplina ako," De Guzman said.

A man of his word, he has since stayed true to his commitment to Dulaang UP: Amidst his gruelling filming schedule for his last successful soap Mula Sa Puso, where he played the role of taxi driver-turned-haciendero, Gabriel Maglayon, and his recording and promotion schedule for his self-titled debut album, produced by Ivory Records, he still had found the time to compose "Curtain Call," which apparently made the cut as one of the musical numbers in Dulaang UP's recent Aliw Award-winning original Filipino musical Rizal X, a millennial multimedia presentation about the works and life of Jose Rizal, the Philippines' national hero. 

"May boses at songwriting talent talaga si JM," said Jon Daza, Ivory Records' A&R manager. "I personally believe kasi na eventually magiging big star s'ya, at para magkaroon ng maliit na bahagi kami sa Ivory Records sa success n'ya, proud kami du'n. So far, we've a very healthy working relationship with him."

De Guzman recalled, "Naka-smile ako habang sinusulat ko ang thank you note sa album ko.  Nagflashback sa akin ang mga taong talagang tumulong nu'ng nagsisimula pa lang ako. My original single 'Carried Away' ay 'yung kanta na masasabi kong pinakamaganda kong nabuo."

De Guzman's debut album contains the track "Carried Away," a bittersweet love song, as well as remakes of other OPM (Original Pilipino Music) and pop hits such as "Pagdating Ng Panahon," "Out Of My League," "Bizarre Love Triangle," "Collide," "Kiss Me," "True," "Yakap Sa Dilim," "Give You The World," "Sa May Bintana," and "Nothing Compares 2 U."  As of this writing, Ivory Records has informed BroadwayWorld that the record company is all set to release a repackaged edition of De Guzman's album; it will include the singer/actor's cover version of The Script's strong ballad "The Man Who Can't Be Moved," arranged and produced by DJ Myke Salomon.

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Furthermore, starting Monday, De Guzman's steadily growing fan base in the Philippines and among TFC (The Filipino Channel) subscribers here in New York and elsewhere will be glued to the television anew for the premiere episodes of ABS CBN's newest afternoon soap Angelito: Batang Ama, where he plays the title role who faces the responsibilities and challenges of parenthood as a teenager.

"Pinaghahandaan ko to take on big projects like 'Angelito.' I stopped show biz when I was young to study theater arts at UP where I learned more about the craft that I love. Masasabi ko na ready na ako, and I'm equipped to tackle lead roles," De Guzman said.

"Tiwala sa Diyos at sa sarili. Ito lang ang pinanghahawakan ko."

To JM: BroadwayWorld Philippines and the Philippine theater community are so proud of you.

Follow JM De Guzman on Twitter: @hukbong_JM and @JM_DeGuzman; and download his debut album on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/jm-de-guzman-ep/id463958085.

 


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