By Evo Joel Contrivida

Batucan stressed that she studied more of Mabini as a person. She also researched about polio and cholera. In which the latter caused the life of the famous adviser of President Emilio Aguinaldo.

THE Steampunk musical Mabining Mandirigma ris definiitely coming back this month at the Tanghalang Pilipino, to close its 29th season.  It wiill definitely feature the highlights of the life and heroism of Apolinario Mabini, the great paralytic of the Philippine revolution.

David Ezra

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During its press conference over the weekend, Nanding Josef, the Artistic Director of Tanghalan declared that it is most requested fmusical of the company to be restaged.  He thought that the majority were not able to watch it July of last year, after it created so much hype through social media. Josef emphasized that the fact that it got a lot of awards and nominations during Gawad Buhay, the re-run is very timely for the upcoming national elections.

“I think Mabining Mandirigma is successful in dramatizing our weaknesses as a people. Yung ordinary voters, yung ordinary citizens tsaka anung klaseng leader sana ang ilalagay natin sa position. (Sana) maybe like Mabini, and not like all others na napaka-self serving ng interest sa pagsisilbi sa bayan.” Josef said.

New to its restaging is an original song rendered by the old and young characters of Mabini. Plus new sets of choreography that shouldn’t be missed. The story is still the same, Mabini’s struggle as a poor boy who thrived to get an education, his life as a Cabinet President, Foreign Minister, and his strong efforts against American occupation.

This musical is written by Dr. Nicanor Tiongson and was developed as a Steampunk, a sub-genre of science fiction that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th Century industrial steam-powered machinery.  This year’s version will feature almost entirely new set of cast, including its lead Liezel Batucan who plays Mabini.

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Chris Millado, the Director
Chris Millado, the Director

Director Chris Millado clarified their decision in getting Batucan as Mabini. He pointed out that having female leads acting as a male in theatre has been a tradition in Asian theatre. Batucan accepted the challenge and considered it as one of her most challenging roles, even though she already portrayed Pinocchio for Repertory Philippines before. Millado is also the Artistic Director of CCP.

Kung iisipin mo, it’s like new. It’s a very deep and complex character to play in many levels. Pero yung emphasis dito ay yung piercing intelligence ni Mabini, his heroic quality, yung heart nya for the country. Tapos babae ang gaganap, para lumitaw ang boses. Like sa kampo ng mga generals na lalake tapos biglang female voice, parang in a way ganun din si Mabini nung time na yun.” Batucan explain.

Another new member of the cast is David Ezra, the young and upcoming singer son of Dulce and songwriter Danny Cruz. He alternates as Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. It’s his comeback to the theatre after being absent for almost six years. He was last seen in Sweeney Todd production of Repertory. Ezra explained to Glitter.ph that his reason of hiatus is due to his weight gain. He reached 70 lbs and lost confidence. But he is now back on track and has series of concerts as well. And as for his role in Mabining Mandirigma, “I portray Aguinaldo as very regal, very King-like. Yung may command sa stage, mas madali sya i-portray.”

Aside from the play, art installations will be exhibited during its run in CCP. Known visual artist and the set Designer for Mabining Mandirigma Toym Imao will display his new art featuring the Sublime Paralytic. Imao appealed to theatre goers to be early so that they can see his latest masterpieces before the show.

Other cast members include Arman Ferrer as the other Aguinaldo, Paw Castillo as Pule, Alfritz Blanche as Legarda, Philip Palmos, Kristofer Kliatchko, Sigfred Macarena Balbas, Vj Cortel, Merry Mia Sinaguinan, Karl Alexis Jingco, Renson Gacutana, Hazel Maranan, Arya Herrera, Francis Cruz, Arion Sanchez,  Remus Villanueva, Ali Santos and Erick Dizon.

Artistic staff is headed by Joed Balsamo who arranged the music, James Reyes for the costume design and Denisa Reyes for choreography.  Mabining Mandirigma runs at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theater) from February 19 to to March 13, 2016, Fridays to Sundays with 3:00 PM (Matinee) and 8:00PM (Gala) shows.

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