VIDEO: After a Three-Year Wait, Gian Magdangal to Play Billy--Finally

Repertory Philippines' CAROUSEL runs November 26 to December 18.

By: Nov. 23, 2022
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Manila, Philippines--Over three years ago (blame the COVID-19 pandemic), actor-singer Gian Magdangal was announced to play the conflicted leading man, Billy Bigelow, in a reimagined take on a classic, "Carousel."

Gian thought it wasn't meant to happen, for live theater was shut down during the lockdowns. So in between the long wait, he did TV series: "Viral Scandal," "Lyric and Beat," and "The Flower Sisters." Until he got a call from Repertory Philippines, "Are you still interested in playing Billy?"

He said, "Yes." [of course]

And this time, he has never been more ready to play the prominent role, whose signature song, "Soliloquy," is as vocally demanding as "Gethsemane" in "Jesus Christ Superstar."

"Buti na lang, I had the time to learn the song better over the past two years," Gian told

"It's been simmering in my system since 2020; it was like a thesis project you've been working on for two years.

"But I had to relearn the song, though, and it's clearer to me now," he said.

"Soliloquy" is only next to the more popular songs from the musical, which include the anthemic "You'll Never Walk Alone," the love duet "If I Loved You," and the lively ensemble number "June is Bustin' Out All Over."

"Carousel," which premiered on Broadway in 1945, was the second outing--the first was "Oklahoma!"--of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II.

[In] "Oklahoma!, Rodgers often succeeded in making the songs flow naturally from the dialogue and express character. But it was 'Carousel' Rodgers created a thoroughly unified musical score, which also achieved truly effective coordination between music and dramatic action," said music historian Geoffrey Block.

With such a feat, Time Magazine, in 1999, named "Carousel" "Best Musical of the 20th century," setting the gold standard in musicals that ran in that period.

Adapted from the play "Liliom" by Ferenc Molnar, "Carousel" is set in a small New England factory town, where a romance between a carefree carousel barker, Billy Bigelow, and a lady-like millworker, Julie Jordan, who gives up everything for him, becomes volatile and dangerous.

"Carousel" depicts scenes of domestic violence, which theatergoers should take caution of.

REP's bold new staging, probably mainly inspired by stage director Daniel Fish's recent interpretation of "Oklahoma!" Toff De Venecia, a congressman and a champion of Filipino creative professionals, takes on the reins as director.

Gian shares the stage with actress-singer-TV host Karylle Tatlonghari (Julie Jordan), Loy Martinez (Enoch Snow), Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante (Carrie Pipperidge), Mia Bolanos (Nettie Fowler), Noel Rayos, Noel Rayos, Roxy Aldiosa, Red Nuestro, Cara Barredo, Steven Hotchkiss, Paula Paguio, Roby Malubay, Gia Gequinto, Julio Laforteza, Kyla Rivera-Soong, and Czar Decena.

Under the artistic directorship of Liesl Batucan-Del Rosario, REP's "Carousel" premieres this Saturday, November 26, and will run until December 18, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Tanghalang Ignacio Jimenez.

Video: Oliver Oliveros/