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Cundall Addresses WICKED in Manila Critics

With the coming of hit Broadway musical "Wicked" to Manila, James Cundall, CEO of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions Limited, one of the lead producers, is aware that not everybody is pleased with it. Without going into details, the producer points out that local theater companies are doing great in their own right; these negative reactions are unnecessary because there is room for both local and foreign shows. In as much as "Wicked" Manila would like to employ local talents, the touring company may only have administrative job openings for Filipinos--due to the show's limited run.

Manila, Philippines, August 18, 2013--No longer as faint as morning zephyrs, the breaking news about the upcoming Philippine premiere of the Broadway musical "Wicked" is taking Manila by storm. Barely opening the box office a few days ago, advance ticket sales have skyrocketed proving that Filipinos are more than prepared to brave and embrace "Wicked's" theatrical phenomenon.

Since 2010, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions Limited and Concertus Manila, two of the leading entertainment producers in the country, have been bringing mega-musicals to the Cultural Center of the Philippines, e.g. "Cats" and "The Phantom of the Opera." According to James Cundall, CEO of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, he believes that Filipinos are definitely ready to experience these shows. In Cundall's interview with BroadwayWorld.com, he talks about his excitement bringing "Wicked" to the Philippines; his message to the international touring production's detractors; and our local artists' extent of participation in the musical.

"It's a privilege to present 'Wicked' in Manila," Cundall says. "It's a unique musical created for the 21st-century audiences, which I know will warm the hearts of Filipino theatergoers."

A decade earlier before Lunchbox Theatrical Productions started bringing international touring productions to the Philippines, Filipinos were given a taste of mega-musicals via Cameron Mackintosh's "Miss Saigon." But unlike "Miss Saigon" that shipped sets and props from Stockholm, Sweden--and was a different version from the one that played on Broadway, the upcoming production of "Wicked" in Manila is the exact replica of the Broadway production.

However, even after "Miss Saigon," it took another decade for Lunchbox Theatrical Productions to bring a slew of Broadway productions to the country because the local theater scene was still growing.

Before any major production is to be transported here, Cundall says the show should be a guaranteed blockbuster hit first on Broadway and in the West End because it costs hundreds of millions of Philippine pesos to produce an imported musical. Most importantly, a current Asian tour of the show should be available.

Other mega-musicals are currently under negotiation. Fortunately, "Wicked" came sooner than expected.

"Wicked" is supposed to come to the Philippines in four to five years from now. However, when Cundall met the producers of "Wicked's" touring company at an event and mentioned about the possibility of bringing the show to the Philippines, luck would have it that the touring company was about to perform across Asia and a gap in the schedule could accommodate a Philippine run.

With the coming of "Wicked" to Manila, Cundall is aware that not everybody is pleased with it. Without going into details, the producer points out that local theater companies are doing great in their own right; these negative reactions are unnecessary because there is room for both local and foreign shows. In as much as "Wicked" Manila would like to employ local talents, the touring company may only have administrative job openings for Filipinos--due to the show's limited run.

Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, "Wicked" features music by Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz ("Godpell," "Pippin") and book by Winnie Holzman. Lisa Leguillo directs this stage adaptation based on the original direction by Joe Mantello. The musical also features musical direction by David Young and musical staging by Wayne Cliento.

"Wicked" in Manila will open on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines' main theater.

For tickets ( Php 7000, 5800, 4500, 2250 and 1750), visit ticketworld.com.ph.


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Lee Cundangan Lee studied AB Communication Arts at University of Santo Tomas and M.A. in Theater Arts at University of the Philippines-Diliman.

She maintains two blogs; writes for print media outlets Mega Publishing and Daily Tribune; and has produced the UNFPA and Levi Strauss newsletters.

She is an event management director and an artistic director for two community-based theater organizations. She is also a theater workshop facilitator at ABS-CBN Design and Talent Center, various schools and non-profit organizations.


 
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