Exclusive: Khalil Ramos Embraces 'Jon'

9 Works Theatrical’s restaging of Jonathan Larson’s ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ closes on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2023. It plays at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati.

By: Sep. 02, 2023
Exclusive: Khalil Ramos Embraces 'Jon'

Manila, Philippines--Though three years shy from turning 30, actor-singer Khalil Joseph Nepomuceno Ramos, aka Khalil Ramos, has effectively portrayed the lead character, Jon, in the three-actor musical, “tick, tick…BOOM!” featuring the music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson.

Jon is an aspiring musical theater composer living in SoHo, New York. The year is 1990, and as his 30th birthday is fast approaching, he’s anxious about his aging and lack of a big break. He pressures himself to make it on Broadway since his childhood best friend and former actor, Michael, has pursued a more lucrative career in marketing. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Susan, a dancer-teacher, tries to convince him to leave his dream behind and start a family together.

Like Larson, who, at a young age, gravitated towards the arts, especially music, Ramos recalls his family had a strong appreciation for it.

“I grew up surrounded by music and movies.  I also attended Colegio de San Agustin, which had a deep appreciation for the arts, and I participated in school plays,” he said.

His Foray into Performing Professionally

In 2011, Ramos placed second at "Pilipinas Got Talent," a reality talent show produced by ABS-CBN, and became a recording artist under Star Magic. The following year, he joined the "Princess and I" cast with Kathryn Bernardo, Daniel Padilla, and Enrique Gil. It was his first TV series.

Thus, his love for music and acting is already part of his identity.

Musicals like "Rak of Aegis," "Sa Wakas," and "Ang Huling El Bimbo" have rekindled his interest in stage acting.

"As an actor, it has always been a dream to be part of a theater production. I was asked to audition for the 2012 production of 'The Sound of Music,' but I declined because I was terrified.

"I also auditioned for the role of Anthony in the 2019 run of "Ang Huling El Bimbo," but I had to give it up due to scheduling conflicts."

He ended up in "tick, tick... BOOM!"  after a pre-assessment if he was ready to take the big step. According to director Robbie Guevara, he didn't choose Ramos--it was 9 Works Theatrical's executive producer, Santi Santamaria.

"I only agreed when we had him vocally assessed by vocal coach Lionel Guico, which was also Ramos's stand before accepting the offer," Guevara shared candidly.

Exclusive: Khalil Ramos Embraces 'Jon'
Khalil Ramos plays Jon in 'tick, tick...BOOM!' his professional theater debut.

Embracing Jon

When 9 Works Theatrical considered Ramos to do the musical, it brought on board Lionel Guico to evaluate and assist its actors, particularly in music and singing.

Guico reckoned, "[Producers] Anna and Santi Santamaria brought Khalil to me to assess if he could portray the role (singing) of Jon three months ago. We had a morning session at home in Marikina.

"Khalil came early. I listened to him sing '30/90' from the show. He had an impressive singing voice. He's a natural, passionate singer. In our first meeting, he was very attentive during our conversations about the cause and effect of why we produce excellent and not-so-good tones. He relates the principles and discipline of the singing process to his acting method.

"It was a two-hour session. After that, Anna, Santi, and Robbie asked me if he had the 'it,' right away, I said, 'Yes!'

After that day, Ramos has had seven weekly lessons in Alabang, where Guico teaches on weekends. Each session usually runs an hour, but sometimes extends to two hours.

"His commitment to his work is impressive, too. His work ethic is excellent. He never came late during our appointments," Guico only praised Ramos.

Meanwhile, Daniel Bartolome, the show's musical director, also has these good things to say about Ramos, "My first meeting with Khalil was during our photoshoot, where we also scheduled to shoot a snippet singing the last song of the show, 'Louder than Words.'

"That was the first time I heard him sing, and I could say he was a natural. He had an exemplary sense of rhythm, timing, intonation, and a good timbre that suited his character. As we went on meeting for music rehearsals, he always came prepared.

"He always brings his A game in every rehearsal. I know he reads ahead and studies his singing parts in advance, which made it easy for us to master his solos and, notably, with the ensemble.

"Khalil has a natural slight husky voice, which is attractive, appealing, and sexy. You'll notice it as he speaks naturally. The moment he speaks, the charisma is there. This charisma is a perfect tool for his solo music for the show. I only had to work on how he should phrase the words correctly and how to work on the vowels.

"The process was a confirmation of how talented he is. He could easily adjust to instructions on the spot. And the next step for us was consistency. After working on his solos, we tested his ensemble singing and blending with other singers.

"We worked on the timbres in every song the actors sang in harmony, whether his voice should be in character or just choral singing. And it was a magical experience. Their voices combined are Beethoven's 'Ninth Symphony' to my ears. The chemistry we were creating every rehearsal was incredible. However, after the first week of rehearsals, I was concerned about Khalil's endurance, so I had to give him extra vocalization time every meeting.

"I would have him sing 'Why' from the musical, his big solo at the show’s end, every start of rehearsals and runs. The transformation was so visible that it made me smile to know and see that he is enjoying everything about the musical."

Apart from singing, Ramos admitted that as soon as he breathed life into Jon, he was in for challenges, "In addition to grappling with the challenging songs, I had to learn piano, memorize 58 pages of script with five lengthy monologues, and even pick up dancing."

Exclusive: Khalil Ramos Embraces 'Jon'
(L-R) Khalil Ramos as Jon; Vien King, Michael in 'tick, tick...BOOM!'

He resonates with Larson

As an artist, Ramos resonates with Larson, " I could relate to my character, Jon.

"I’ve faced numerous challenges throughout my 12-year career. Earlier this year, I found myself reflecting on my career due to the industry’s pandemic-induced changes. I questioned if I still had a place in this business.

"However, like Jon, I held onto one thing: my unwavering love for the craft and my passion for the arts."

He doesn't deny he's enjoying the process, and the experience enriches him as an artist.

"The entire process has been transformative for me.

"In TV and film, we rarely have the luxury of time for rehearsals and meticulous preparation. The past two months truly stretched my capabilities as an actor and singer. The aspect I treasure the most is the relationships I’ve forged with my co-actors and the entire production team. Their warm welcome into their world is something I will forever cherish."

In doing the show, monetary gain is not his primary consideration.

"I focus on the material and the opportunity to push my artistic skills and instincts further. I’ve been working as an actor for years, and I believe constantly learning and bringing new things to the table is essential for staying in the industry. Theater is the final piece in the puzzle for me as an actor, and I see it as a valuable medium to explore."

After plunging into the world of theater, he didn't think much of a dream project onstage, but he'd love to be part of an iconic musical like "Rent," "West Side Story," or "Grease!"

Of all the films or TV projects he worked on in the past, he dreams of doing a stage adaptation of his film “LSS,” which he starred in with his real-life girlfriend, Gabbi Garcia.

"It was like a jukebox musical featuring the songs of Ben&Ben. Like stories, their well-written songs would be perfect for a musical adaptation."

As a mainstream actor who ventured into this industry, Ramos wants to impart his thoughts to those desiring to break into the theater scene, "Commitment at 100% is essential, especially for those transitioning from TV and film.

"Be prepared to push yourself to your limits and step out of your comfort zone. Pick yourself up when challenges arise, and repeat this process continually. Ego should be left behind, and the journey should involve discovering your character’s truth every time you step into their shoes."

Photos: Reine Bantang


Photo/Video: HAMILTON Officially Launches First International Tour Photo
Photo/Video: HAMILTON Officially Launches First International Tour

Pulitzer Prize-winning musical 'Hamilton' officially began its first international tour with its cast members, plucked from various 'Hamilton' productions worldwide, making their bows on Sept. 21, 2023.

Video: RAMA, HARIs Ronelson Yadao Talks the Significance of Restaging Dance Classics Photo
Video: RAMA, HARI's Ronelson Yadao Talks the Significance of Restaging Dance Classics

Ronelson Yadao, Alice Reyes Dance Philippines’ artistic director, who also plays Rama, meets us on stage and discusses the progress of their revival production of the rock opera ballet 'Rama, Hari' a few days before its opening.

TWENTY QUESTIONS Gets Another Round of Performances (And Wine)! Photo
TWENTY QUESTIONS Gets Another Round of Performances (And Wine)!

After a sold-out run just four months ago, 'Twenty Questions,' Juan Ekis’ Palanca-winning one-act play, returns to the Mirror Studio Theatre in Poblacion, Makati, on the weekends from Nov. 10 to 19.

Nominations Open For The 2023 BroadwayWorld Philippines Awards Photo
Nominations Open For The 2023 BroadwayWorld Philippines Awards

Nominations are now open for the 2023 BroadwayWorld Philippines Awards. The 2023 Regional Awards honor productions which had their first performance between October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023.

From This Author - Jude Cartalaba

Like other professions, especially writing, he believes it is not for the faint-hearted. His writing life is less lucrative than many would think of it. However, he persists in pursuing his passion fo... Jude Cartalaba">(read more about this author)


#repshow# in #getregions.name[i]# Hamilton
The Theatre At Solaire (9/17-11/26)Tracker
#repshow# in #getregions.name[i]# Twenty Questions
Mirror Studio Theatre (11/10-11/19)
#repshow# in #getregions.name[i]# Boses at Aral Concert
Music Museum (10/28-10/28)
#repshow# in #getregions.name[i]# HALIMAW
Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium (10/04-10/07)

Recommended For You