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Vien King and Shiela Valderrama-Martinez to Star in Stephen Sondheim's PASSION, Sept. 14-29

Vien King and Shiela Valderrama-Martinez to Star in Stephen Sondheim's PASSION, Sept. 14-29
Giorgio (Vien King), Fosca (Shiela Valderrama-Martinez)

Manila, Philippines-- For its 20th-anniversary celebration, the Philippine Opera Company (POC) is proud to stage PASSION, a musical about the complexities of love and desire. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, this collaboration got nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Musical and won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical.

PASSION's story was adapted from a film called "Passione d'Amore," where Giorgio, a captain in the Italian military, has an affair with a married woman, Clara. His view and definition of love are put to the test when he meets Fosca, a reclusive cousin of his colonel. It discusses love, a universal language, boldly and intelligently, which makes it different from any other romantic story. The story added with the intimate and emotional book and music makes up a completely raw masterpiece.

The role of Giorgio Bachetti will be played by Showtime's "Bidaman" finalist Vien King, who was also previously seen in "Dekada '70" as Gani, "Mula sa Buwan" as Victor, and "Side Show" as Half Man/Half Woman.

His first lead role, King feels blessed to be working on PASSION and is grateful to be entrusted with such an important character. He sees this as an opportunity to push himself to the limit. "I've really prepared for it, like, really understanding the songs of Sondheim to be able to put my version of the character of Giorgio," he said.

Vien King and Shiela Valderrama-Martinez to Star in Stephen Sondheim's PASSION, Sept. 14-29
The company of PASSION

Playing opposite King is Shiela Valderrama-Martinez as Fosca, the reclusive and sickly cousin of Colonel Ricci. She was most recently part of "Guadalupe: The Musical" as the Lady of Guadalupe, "Binondo: A Tsinoy Musical" as Lily Dela Rosa (for which she received double Aliw Awards nominations) and "Dani Girl" as Katherine Lyons.

When asked about the role she's about to play, Valderrama-Martinez shared that Fosca is one of her dream roles. "In my 25 years in performing, I've always been easily typecast as the ingénue or the princess or something similar," she said. Many people expected she was going to play Clara, which is why she's thankful and excited for the opportunity to take on a role that is, in a way, leaning towards the opposite of the roles she's played in the past.

"There's always gonna be an ugly side of a person and a beautiful side of a person and it's up to the actor to show that. I hope I will show that. And besides, it's not about the look. It's about her story," she added. Artistic Director Karla Gutierrez also added that she's taking voice lessons for this role.

Completing the lead cast is Jasmine Fitzgerald as Clara, whose stage credits include "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "Ang Huling El Bimbo," and "Priscilla Queen of the Desert."

The supporting cast includes Lorenz Martinez (Doctor Tambourri), Raul Montesa (Colonel Ricci), and Noel Rayos (Lt. Toraso). The ensemble members are Jonel Mojica (Major Rizzolli), Vyen Villanueva (Fosca's Father), Lorenzo Mendoza (Private Augenti), Jos Jalbuena (Ludovic), Timothy Racho (Sgt. Lombardi), Joshua Cheng (Lt. Barri), Lorraine Lisen (Mistress), and Jasmin Salvo (Fosca's Mother).

Vien King and Shiela Valderrama-Martinez to Star in Stephen Sondheim's PASSION, Sept. 14-29
Some of the costumes designed by Zenaida Gutierrez

PASSION runs for about 105 minutes and there will not be any intermission, because, as Director Robbie Guevara has said, "I don't want to interrupt whatever emotions will start building up, hopefully, from the audience. That's the goal."

He views PASSION as one of Sondheim's most beautiful operettas and is ecstatic with the opportunity to direct it. He's also proud to say that POC's staging will have a complete orchestra, which hasn't always been done in PASSION stagings since its original Broadway run because some tend to cut some instruments out. This production is also Music Director Daniel Bartolome's first time to take part in a Sondheim musical, and even musical theater in general.

The complete artistic team is as follows: Karla Gutierrez as artistic director (POC), Robbie Guevara as director, Daniel Bartolome as musical director, Jason Tecson as set designer, Zenaida Gutierrez as costume designer, Shakira Villa Symes as lighting director, Venger Marquez as vocal coach, Myrene Santos as hair and makeup designer, Benjor Catindig as graphic designer, and Jojit Lorenzo as photographer.

Don't miss the chance to catch this Sondheim gem from September 14 to 29 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium at RCBC Plaza, Makati City.

Buy tickets (P900-P3,500) at

Photos: Carla Delgado

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From This Author Carla Delgado