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Co-written by Jude Cartalaba

Ateneo de Manila University alumnus-turned-stage actor, musical director Reb Atadero first appeared in Blue Repertory's 2006 production of "Hope for Flowers," a rock musical inspired by Trina Paulus' book of the same title. Apparently, Reb fell in love with the process of putting on a play, and since then has kept the ball rolling. By attending workshops handled by stage veteran Robbie Guevara, he studied musical theater, which he admitted was initially unknown to him.  However, right after seeing the video version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's seminal rock musical "Jesus Christ Superstar," he said to himself, "Where have you been all my life, musical theater? Such a progressive art form is a fantastic medium for telling stories!"

Prior to Reb's first foray into a musical production, he shared with that he had been singing in bars, family gatherings, and the bathroom since he was four. "My passion for music originated from my dad's side of the family.  My great grandfather was generous enough to pass down the gift all the way to me; and I'm sure it's also a God-given talent."

Pretty confident with his innate musicality, Reb's equally talented friends give him that extra boost to follow the footsteps of his musical genes.  "I also took a lot of inspiration from my friends.  I would see them do so well on stage, and I get this insatiable hunger to be on stage, and do well too.  I think musical artists call that 'the itch'," he said.

"I vowed from day one that I'm going to push myself to excel in this craft because it's something that I love so much.  Who knows, maybe one day – fingers and toes crossed – I'd get to do 'Jesus Christ Superstar.' It's my dream to play the role of Judas," he added.

Since "Hope for Flowers" with Blue Repertory, he has been working with the campus-based theater organization as one its actors and musical directors.  To date, he has done Disney's "High School Musical," "Summer of '42," "Zanna, Don't," "Stages of Love" (an original musical by Rony Fortich and Andrei Pamintuan), "All Shook Up," "Rock 'N' Rule," "Little Shop of Horrors," and "Bare."  The multi-talented musician also acted in Repertory Philippines' 2008 production of Off-Broadway musical "Altar Boyz," and in Dulaang UP's original Filipino production of "Rizal X," which presents the life and works of the Philippines' national hero, Jose Rizal, through mixed popular media.

Even though Reb considers all his past musical theater projects were immensely close to his heart – it is almost impossible to single out a particular production because he has peculiar ways of categorizing the shows that he was a part of – he always has these thoughts crossing his mind: "I love this production because I made a lot of friends;" "I love this musical because it was fun;" or "I love this material because it stretched me so far as an actor."

However, if he had to choose only one, he would pick "Rizal X." "The friendships and relationships I developed during the course of that production will last forever. 'Rizal X' tested me in ways I never would have imagined. Its director, Dexter Santos, was a brilliant director. Nevertheless, I'm eternally grateful for each and every production I've done," he said.

As Guy in "Once" and as Jason in "Bare"

On, Reb recently did a cover version of the song titled "Say It To Me Now," from the 2006 independent movie musical "Once," which is now a critically-acclaimed stage production on Broadway. "I remember watching the movie for the first time.  'Say It To Me Now' opens the movie, and the lead actor, named Guy (Glen Hansard), starts singing.  The song is so poignant and tender.  Then all of a sudden, he goes into the chorus in which he screams his lungs out with so much passion," he recalled. "That's my kind of music! If it changes, hits, or affects something in you, it's worth listening to."

When asked if he would audition for the role of Guy if ever the stage adaptation of "Once" were brought to the Philippines, without batting an eye, he said, "Yes, a million times, yes.  I'd love to play that role since I can relate to him a lot."

"Also, like Guy, I play the guitar, and write spontaneous songs; Guy is another role of a lifetime.  I call on the powers that be of Philippine theater to please bring this musical to the country."

On the other hand, in "Bare," Reb wants to try the role of Jason (He played the part of Peter Simmonds in Blue Repertory's recent revival of the Off-Broadway musical "Bare" at Teatrino). "I'd love to play Jason. I'd always ask Jaime Barcelon (Jaime played Jason opposite Reb's Peter), whenever he'd finish doing his breakdown scenes toward the end of the Act Two: How do you do that every single night?  It's such a challenging role that requires so many layers, and, most of all, heart.  I'd love to take on that challenge," he said.

Theater Wisdom

Over the years, Reb has realized one important thing, "Talent will only get you so far as a performer.  It takes hard work, passion, and dedication to complete the formula," he said.  "If you want to be a theater actor, the first thing you have to understand is that acting on stage is one of the most unselfish jobs in the world; it's about giving all of who you are to tell a story, which is aimed at changing someone's life in the audience.

"However, trust me, after all that, it pays off like nothing else on this planet.  So keep honing your talent! If you're a singer, sing anywhere, everywhere, and whenever! If you're a dancer, keep on moving! If you're an actor, keep giving! And when you give, make sure there's nothing left in the tank after your performance."

Follow Reb on Twitter: @rebranger or listen to his cover songs at

Photos by Dale Bacar

Reb Atadero; photo by Dale Bacar

Reb Atadero does a cover version of "Say It To Me Now," from the movie musical "Once."

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