Theater Review: Gayest and Happiest Musical "The Producers" Now Being Staged in Manila!



I love watching shows that can make me laugh so it was such a welcome treat to watch Repertory Philippines' last offering for 2013 -- THE PRODUCERS. This musical is based on Mel Brooks' 1968 hit movie that has become a Broadway phenomenon, which garnered 12 Tony Awards and 10 Drama Desk Awards in 2001 plus three Laurence Olivier Awards in 2005.


Perhaps many of you also saw the 2005 movie remake that starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, the stars of the original stage production, as well as Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell. I only remember bits and pieces I saw on cable TV but my youngest son is very familiar with the story and its characters. So it didn't surprise me that he found the musical as hilarious as I did.   


I was very delighted with both the major characters' and the ensemble's performances. Everybody did such a great job with all the singing, dancing, line delivery, quick costume changes, and comedic timing. 


Carlo Orosa as Max Bialystock, the struggling Broadway producer, and Topper Fabregas as Leo Bloom, the stage-struck accountant had us laughing out loud with their funny exchanges and mishaps. Their characters scheme to produce the worst musical ever to make millions. They find this terrible musical script written by Franz Liebkind, an ex-Nazi stormtrooper who wrote about Hitler's rise to power in song and dance, and are convinced that they found the worst show that's guaranteed to offend just about everybody.


Playing Franz is Joel Trinidad, another talented stage director and actor, who gave life to the quirky and weird Hitler fan. He will also give you lots of reasons to laugh. Prepare to chortle during his scene with Max and Leo as he makes them promise to honor Hitler's memory.


The ever beautiful Giselle Tongi-Walters tackles the role of -- *inhale* Ulla Inga Hanson Benson Yanson Tallen Hallen Svadon Swanson *exhale* -- the blonde Swedish bombshell with an endearing accent who auditions for the show and also becomes Max and Leo's secretary/receptionist. This is G's first time on the Rep stage and I believe she has debuted with flying colors. I really enjoyed seeing how she breathed life into her role.


I guess everyone I was with who saw the press preview last Friday would collectively agree though that there were two actors who totally stole the limelight whenever they were in a scene. Audie Gemora as Roger De Bris and Noel Rayos as Carmen Ghia brought the house down with their antics and unforgettable mannerisms. 


Given that I was unable to attend the show's press conference, I didn't know that Audie would come out on stage as the flamboyant homosexual cross-dresser that would direct Max and Leo's show. He and Noel were wonderful! 


Likewise, kudos to the members of the ensemble Tristan Cheng, Steven Conde, Leroy Dela Fuente, Nel Gomez, Jay Pangilinan, Nacho Tambunting, Daffodil Abear, Natalie Everett, Chaye Mogg, Micaela Pineda, Gemini Quintos, and Ina Salonga. These very versatile people seamlessly transformed from one role to another in lightning quick costumes changes and kept in step with the main characters really well.


Given a chance, I'd also love to watch another show where Robbie Zialcita plays Max and Sir Noel Trinidad plays Roger. I am pretty sure they would deliver awesome performances too!

Congratulations to the artistic and creative team for putting up such an engaging show! This is led by Baby Barredo (Artistic Director), Jaime del Mundo (Director), Onyl Torres (Musical Director -- watch out for his cameo role!), Mio Infante (Set Designer), Natalie Everett (Choreographer), and John Batalla (Lighting Designer).


Two thumbs up to the production staff composed of Gidget Tolentino (Production Manager), Goldie T. Soon (Stage Manager), Pol Roxas (Sound Technician), Pablito Salvador (Lighting Technician), and Adul Lasin (Set Execution and Scenic Artist).

A salute, too, to the marketing, sales and publicity team led by David Bianco (Marketing Director), Toots Tolentino (PR Director), Oliver Usison (Marketing Assistant), Marie Talay (Cashier), Rose Silva (Sales Supervisor), John Alaras (Design Director), Jojo Mamangun (Photographer), and Lightshapers/Repertory Philippines (Video Production).


Co-presented by the City of Makati, The Producers will take you on a Broadway thrill ride that is filled with silly gags, irreverent humor, and show-stopping musical numbers at every turn. So make sure to buy a ticket to any of the shows that will run from November 15 to December 15, 2013 at Onstage, Greenbelt 1 in Makati.

For more details, please contact 571-6926 and 571-4941, email shows@repertoryphilippines.com, or log on to www.repertoryphilippines.com. Tickets are available through Ticketworld at 891-9999 or via www.ticketworld.com.ph


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