BWW Interview: Reb Atadero, Tanya Manalang Talk New Musical, Featuring the Music of The Eraserheads
Manila, Philippines--Resorts World Manila, Full House Theater Company, and Ultimate Shows Inc. may have stumbled on a potential hit via an original Filipino stage musical 'Ang Huling El Bimbo,' which features the music of the Eraserheads.
This is not the first time that songs popularized by a Filipino rock band have been weaved together to come up with a good story for a stage musical. In 2013, there was 'Sa Wakas,' which was based on the songs of alternative rock group Sugarfree. Then PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) had its own romantic musical comedy 'Rak of Aegis' whose musical numbers were lifted from the songs by the pop-rock band Aegis. In fact, these two productions are back this year.
'Ang Huling El Bimbo' tells the story of three friends who have drifted apart in adulthood until fate reunites them to confront their haunted past. It headlines Reb Atadero as Hector, Boo Gabunada as Emman, Topper Fabregas as Anthony, and Hector's love interest, Tanya Manalang as Joy.
Reb is Hector. As his name implies (with reference to Greek mythology)--he is a 'hero.'
In an interview with BroadwayWorld.com, Reb describes his character as: "He's one of the three friends, and we befriend Joy, and she eventually becomes a member of the barkada. I guess you'll have to wait and see if things go any further than that. (And winks)"
In the same interview, Tanya shares her thoughts about Joy, "I'm a young college girl who looks at the world through rose-colored glasses. Although she isn't initially part of the group, she's the only girl in the barkada of Anthony, Emman, and Hector."
Like her name suggests, Joy is someone full of charm and vigor; she is incredibly intelligent, too. She knows no limits and will live up to her name at all costs and will always give everything she has to those most important to her. Her smile is infectious.
When Reb and Tanya were asked about what the audience could learn from their respective characters, Reb says, "I think anyone who watches 'Ang Huling El Bimbo' will learn that it's so much more than a nostalgia trip. It's a story of friendship, love, and how life can put those things to the test. The story is quite universal, which makes it relatable and palatable to the audience. Basically, when they watch it, they'll go, 'Hey, that's me!'"
"Perhaps it's that life really isn't easy. But then again, everyone knows that. Sure, we have our families and friends to help us through, but, sometimes, you have no choice but to be your own hero and pick yourself up," Tanya adds.
Being part of the production and hearing the songs of Eraserheads, both have shared their thoughts about the songs.
For Reb, "The music is the soundtrack of the everyday Filipino. That's just how good that band is. They told stories in a variety of ways. Some were meant to uplift (With a Smile); some meant to capture what it's like to be heartbroken (Pare Ko); some hilariously set up to be an anecdote about courtship (Tindahan Ni Aling Nena), and so much more. Their discography offers a vast array of stories that you can't possibly run out."
Tanya, on the other hand, reveals, "I grew up hearing Eraserheads songs all the time on the radio and now that I'm older, I realize just how meaningful these songs truly are. Back then, sure, I'd hum along because they were catchy. I was always into the foreign stuff--you know, Backstreet Boys, the Spice Girls--that kind of music. I never really paid attention to OPM (Original Pilipino Music) with MTV being such a huge thing back then.
"Now that I'm re-listening to all these songs to prepare myself for 'El Bimbo,' I'm pretty darn amazed. While I wish I had paid more attention to their music during my childhood; it all takes on a different meaning now. Now that I'm older, not really that much wiser, but have definitely gone through a lot to know better, I find some of their songs to be so perfect as part of my life's soundtrack. My experience in joining this musical so far has turned me into an instant fan, no doubt about it."
Both Reb and Tanya definitely have things going on in their minds they want to tell to their respective characters.
"Forgive yourself for being young and not knowing any better," says Reb. "I would tell her the exact same thing. I tell myself every damn day: KAYA MO YAN, GIRL," prods Tanya.
'Ang Huling El Bimbo' features the '90s rock hits such as 'Ligaya,' 'Pare Ko,' 'With a Smile,' 'Alapaap,' 'Overdrive,' and the title track 'Ang Huling El Bimbo.'
The production also takes pride in assembling some of the most notable names in Philippine theater today including playwright Dingdong Novenario ('Kafatiran,' 'Nothing But Dreams.' 'Daddy's Girl'), musical director Myke Salomon ('Rak of Aegis,' '3 Stars and a Sun,' 'Dirty Old Musical'), and director- choreographer Dexter Santos ('Orosman at Zafira,' 'Maxie the Musicale,' 'Ang Nawalang Kapatid')--to complete the potential hit musical.
'Ang Huling El Bimbo' plays at the Newport Performing Arts Theater at Resorts World Manila (10 Newport Blvd., Newport City Complex, Pasay City) from July 20 to August 26, 2018.
Buy tickets (P1,000 to P3,500) from TicketWorld.com.ph.