Gantimpala Theater tours "Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing" starting September 19

Matsing (Francis Ong, left) tries to outwit Pagong (Michael King Urieta)in this classic children's story. Gantimpala Theater will stage the musicalextravaganza Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing in Pampanga and Manila.

Gantimpala Theaterpresents a special heaping of pearls as it celebrates its 30th season with JoseRizal's children's story Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing, as told to him byhis mother Doña Teodora Alonzo. When Pepe [Rizal] was a little boy, this taleinspired him to do the famous comic strip.

Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing is now retold as a charming, engaging, andfun-filled musical extravaganza for children and for the youthful alike. Pagongand Matsing will see a floating banana tree on the river. They eagerly get anddivide it into two. Wanting to outsmart Pagong, Matsing insists on getting thepart with leaves while Pagong is content with the part containing the roots.What follows is a series of clever tricks and amusing antics, pushing Pagongand Matsing to outwit each other.

There is more. This popular animal-story gets wackier this time with theappearance of Suso and Tarsier as zany, irreverent sidekicks of the leadcharacters. Three balding trees play as chorus, adding humor and punch to theretelling of the tale. And of course, the dancing squad of forest animals andinsects, plus the talking halves of the banana tree animate and perk up thestory to the hilt.

Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing is a modern take on friendship, environmentalconcern, Filipino virtues, and features loads of sweet, sweet, sweet bananas.

Playing the role of Pagong is Michael King Urieta, opposite Francis Ong who doesMatsing.

"This is my biggestrole to date and when I found [that] I will portray the role of Pagong, I wasshocked," says Urieta. "I am not a singer, you know. As an actor, I took it aschallenge. The fact that my director Sir Tony [Espejo, Gantimpala TheatersArtistic Director] trusted me to do the role means I can perform the part.After our first four performances in Subic, I can say so far, so good."


Michael King started as a member of the cast that performed during theIndependence Day Parade produced by Gantimpala Theater. At 22, he is now asenior apprentice of the Actors Company. His other significant roles in the past include the narrator in Floranteat Laura, Antonio in The Queens Jewel and Ernesting in Forever.

For his part, FrancisOng of Star in a Million fame has decided to concentrate on his careerin the theater, although he has been tapped to be one of the hosts of theABS-CBN show Math Tinik.

"It is a fun role todo. When I first read the script, I saw Matsing as an arrogant, childishcharacter. I like the fact that I am doing a role that is different from mypersonality. I have never been a bully and I was never wily," shares Francis."I know that we will be performing for kids and I love performing for them asit gives me a different kind of high. Theater is a wonderful medium toentertain and learn and I know that these kids will not only enjoy the play,they will also acquire so many lessons."

Francis was last seen on the Gantimpala stage as the love-struck Basilio in ElFilibusterismo. He is a familiar face to most people after becoming afinalist in Star in a Million Season 2 (along with Frenchie Dy).

Other cast members are Meldea Flor Formacil (Suso); Anthony Cruz (Tarsier); LeoPonseca (Punong Manga); Ronald Concepcion (Punong Acacia); John Paolo Garcia(Punong Bakawan); Rene Nisperos and Rommel Aratan (as the Kaputol ng Saging).


Providing artistic support to director Espejo are J. Dennis Teodosio, playwright; Alain De Leon, assistant director; Dwight Gaston, productiondesigner; Jesse Lucas, musical director; Joey Nombres, light designer;Anthony Cruz, choreographer; Jorge Cabullo, production manager, and Jay-rInocencio, stage manager.

Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing goes on tour this September 19-21 (Bren GuiaoGym, Pampanga). Manila shows are on October 18 (AFP Theater, Quezon City);24-26 (SM Southmall Cinema 6, Las Piñas City) and December 2 (Concert at thePark Open Air Auditorium).

For inquiries, call the Gantimpala Theater Marketing Office, 899-5745/896-3503;or write to





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