Multitasking Actors: 'APO Musical's' Vien King & Luis Marcelo
Manila, Philippines--In any stage production, there are alternates, covers, swings, or understudies to ensure that everything will be taken care of when a cast member is not available or an emergency arises.
In the current restaging of Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical's Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!, an original Filipino musical that features the music of the APO Hiking Society, the production has two heroes-on-the-sidelines: young actors Vien King and Luis Marcelo, who have been tapped as the alternates, covers, swings, and, also, understudies of main characters Benjie, Rick, Donnie, Bobby, and Jaime.
Barely a week or two into the rehearsal process, Vien and Luis had to already internalize the characters assigned to them.
Luis describes his experience as "challenging but exciting."
He is covering for Jef Flores, who plays the role of Jaime, and Vyen Villanueva, Bobby, and some other ensemble parts.
"I get to try out different characters and give them life. It's a nice challenge because you don't get this kind of opportunity all the time. Usually, you just get one [role] and focus on it."
Vien exclaims, "It's wild and it's fun. Matagal na akong nag-audition sa 9 Works. Sige ilaban natin 'to ngayon. Minsan sa buhay, kailangang mag-take ng risk para matuto at i-push ang sarili to the limits."
"Medyo mahirap. With the choreography, with the lines, kung may nawawalang actor kailangan naming mag-stand in."
Apart from being covers, Vien and Luis are also "swings." They don't need to perform in the show regularly but they should know all the different chorus "tracks," the blocking and costume changes of some of the ensemble actors; they "shadow" these actors and step in when needed.
That's how gargantuan their tasks are.
Being always ready is already a challenge.
For Luis, who was part of 9 Works Theatrical's production of Disney's "Newsies" two years ago, "PInakamahirap is the role of [Filipino American] Jaime. I had to have a twang.
"The initial challenge was mabuo namin ang show at seamless ang pagpasok ko sa company."
He has also realized that Jaime's character has a lot of choreography, speaking lines, and songs to learn.
Vien adds, "For me, playing Donnie is difficult because his character connects the other characters together."
"Sa dami ng roles, I had too little time to prepare, pero nasanay na naman akong humabol."
Friends For Keeps
Set in the '70s, when the Philippines was under Martial Law, Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! Is a semi-biographical musical about the members of the APO Hiking Society.
Vien describes the show's characters as best buddies: "Magbabarkada sila. Sama-sama nilang inaabot ang mga pangarap nila. That's what usually barkadas are; then they fall out and go their separate ways."
However, he adds, "In the end, they still remain friends."
When asked about their working relationship with the show's original cast, both agree that the company made sure they would not feel like "strangers."
"Everybody has been very supportive. You don't feel like you're being punished for making a mistake. That's what I love about the whole cast and the production," says Luis.
"It's my first time to work with 9 Works. They really helped me at di nila ako pinabayaan," says Vien, in closing.
This second run of Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! plays at the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theatre (BGC Arts Center, Bonifacio Global City) now through March 17, 2019.
Get tickets from TicketWorld.com.ph.
Photos: Kathy Rivera, JC Inocian