The cast of Tanghalang Pilipino's IBALONG, led by (center) Jenine Desiderio (photo by JR Sala)
By Precious Lee Cundangan
Manila, Philippines, February 2, 2013 -- Tanghalang Pilipino (TP), the resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), is facing herculean task -- artistically, physically, and economically -- with the staging of "Ibalong," an epic dance drama.
For "Ibalong," TP wants to break the norm in theatrical presentation with elaborate sets and costumes, and with highly energetic fight choreography.
"Ibalong," inspired by City of Legazpi's (capital of the Bicol Region) week-long, non-religious festival, tells the story of a league of warriors, led by Handyong, who arrive in Bicol (formerly Ibalon), where these men face vicious attacks from beasts and monsters -- a cyclops, winged sharks, wild carabaos, and snakes.
Directed by Tuxqs Rutaquio, featuring music by Carol Bello and libretto by Rody Vera, "Ibalong," also tells an unlikely love story between Handyong (Remus Villanueva) and Oryol (Jenine Desiderio), a beast.
When Handyong introduces Ibalon to civilization, Oryol, a mistress of deceit, transforms herself into a young lady to seduce the handsome warrior. But the quick-witted Handyong turns the tide by making Oryol fall in love with him instead.
"For Oryol, I had to co-create something that's quite different from what I've done in the past. I've to make this character appealing; and it's not that easy -- emotionally and artistically," explained Desiderio, a "Miss Saigon" alumna, at a press conference held last month.
She continued, "Singing the songs from the show [whose musical style is based on indigenous Filipino rhythm and melodies] is also very challenging."
Besides Desiderio, "Ibalong's" cast also include May Bayot, Myke Salomon, Red Nuestro, Delphine Buencamino, Trixie Esteban, Cheeno Macaraig, Tara Cabaero, Hazel Maranan, Opaline Santos, Kristofer Kliatchko, Cyril Balderama, and Philip Palmos.
The production runs Friday, February 8 to Sunday, March 3 at CCP.
For tickets, call TicketWorld at (632) 891-9999 or visit ticketworld.com.ph.
Photos by JR Sala