Saturday, January 14, 2012

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown To Be Staged in Manila

One of my all-time favorite songs is Happiness, which I first heard sung by Lea Salonga and her brother Gerard in one of Lea's concerts. At the time, my youngest son was still a mere toddler and I remember how we used to sing the song together with the blending and all especially during the last part: "For happiness ... is anyone ... and anything ... at all ... that's loved ... by .... yoooou!" :) 

Happiness is such a feel-good song and I'm really, really glad that I'll get to hear it sung live by another set of great performers this coming February. You see, one of the country's most exciting theater companies, 9 Works Theatrical, will be bringing to life the timeless characters from Charles M. Schulz' popular comic strip PEANUTS via the Tony award-winning musical, YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN.

The cast will take audiences back to the good ol' days when baseball games, book reports, kite-flying, and glee club rehearsals were all the craze. The story will be told through a series of recognizable vignettes that look into an average day in the life of Charlie Brown and draw from the richness and universality of his everyday situations. These make the musical play a perfect family show that is sure to resonate with the young and the young-at-heart.

During the press con, we were treated to several short performances by the talented cast and it was so amazing to see the characters come alive on stage. I love the costumes especially Charlie's. He is played by Robbie Guevara who was recently seen onstage as Uncle Max in The Sound of Music. Those who are familiar with 9 Works' previous plays would also know that he is an accomplished director on stage.

Carla Guevara-Laforteza takes on the role of the bossy and crabby Lucy. She recently played Maureen Johnson in Rent, the Sour Kangaroo in Seussical, and Sister Berthe in The Sound of Music. My friend, Rod, and I had our pictures taken with her and she delightfully remained in character.

Appearing in his first 9WT musical is singer-actor and TV personality Franco Laurel who will be playing the blanket-toting Linus. He's the former host of a couple of TV dance shows and has since found his true calling in theater having played starring roles in Joseph the Dreamer and Sweeney Todd, among others. 

9 Works Theatrical's Marketing and PR Director Toff de Venecia will play Linus at certain performances. His acting credits include roles in Mulan Jr., Emperor's New Clothes, and Aladdin Jr., and more.

Charlie's famous dog, Snoopy, is played by Lorenz Martinez who was last seen as Benny in Rent and as Herr Zeller in The Sound of Music. I wish I could have seen him in the Netherlands production of Miss Saigon because he was said to be the youngest to perform the role of the Engineer.

GMA 7's resident "Kuya" and foodie, Tonipet Gaba, will bring the sensitive piano-playing Schroeder to life. His stage credits include lead roles in Oliver, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Little Mermaid. 

Playing Charlie Brown's younger sister Sally is Sweet Plantado-Tiongson who was the Musical Director for Vocals in 9WT's Sweet Charity. She's a performing-recording artist who is part of one of my favorite vocal groups, THE CompanY. She played roles before in The Little Mermaid, The Lion, the With, and the Wardrobe, and Joseph the Dreamer, among others.

For this production, 9 Works invited veteran actor and director Michael Williams to helm the show. He has numerous directorial credits with Repertory Philippines and his own company, Theater Down South. Here he is introducing the members of the cast who rendered a short but enthusiastic version of Happiness :)

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown will be shown from February 11 to March 3, 2012 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza Makati. Friday shows are at 8pm, Saturday shows at 3:30pm and 8pm, and Sunday shows at 3:30pm. 

They are offering a limited number of performances available for fundraising and block-buying. For tickets and other inquiries, please call 557-5870, 586-7105, or 0917-5545560 or email

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