Aiza Seguerra and Rachel Alejandro share lively experience in "Avenue Q"

by Jocelyn Dimaculangan
Dec 12, 2007
(From left) Frenchie Dy, Rachel Alejandro, and Aiza Seguerra bond together while rehearsing for Avenue Q. The repeat performances of this comic musical will take place at the RCBC Plaza, Makati City, from December 14-23, 2007.

After its recent sold-out run, Atlantis Productions' hit staging of the Tony Award Winning Broadway Musical Avenue Q will be back in Manila to spread holiday cheer from December 14 - 23 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City.

Winner of the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical, Avenue Q is most accurately described as a cross between Sesame Street and Rent. Due to full puppet nudity, parental discretion is advised.

This two-act play tells the story of Princeton, played by Felix Rivera, a 24-year-old college graduate who lives in a big city hoping to fulfill his big dreams with only a tiny bank account. With his meager savings, he moves into an inexpensive apartment being maintained by Gary Coleman, the former child star who became famous in the U.S. for his TV sitcom Diff'rent Strokes. The African-American star is portrayed by former child star Aiza Seguerra, who admits that she herself didn't know about Gary Coleman until she accepted this role in Avenue Q.

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"Ako si Gary Coleman, isang former child star. Ang kaibahan lang namin, siya nahuthutan ng magulang niya, ako hindi," Aiza tells PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal). "Hindi naging maganda ang buhay niya at kung anu-anong trabaho ang ginawa niya until he ended up being a building superintendent of an apartment in Avenue Q.

"Honestly, ako hindi ko rin siya kilala, e. Nakilala ko na lang siya nung tinanggap ko na yung role at binigyan ako ni Bob [Garcia, director of the play] ng clips ni Gary Coleman. Kinuha ko lang kung paano siya gumalaw saka paano siya ngumiti. Kasi yung paano siya magsalita mahirap siya gayahin, e.

"Mahirap kasi, unang-una, hindi ako Ingliserong tao. Nabubulol ako. Marunong naman ako mag-English pero kailangan ko pang i-practice.

"As much as possible, I wanted to sound slang kasi black siya. Kahit papaano, sinubukan ko pero mahirap eh. Erpats [Father] ko, nagreklamo kasi hindi raw niya naiitindihan yung sinasabi ko," she recalled. For this reason, Aiza decided to speak normally and drop the ghetto way of speaking.

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The actress-acoustic singer is very thankful to be part of yet another stage production since her last theater appearance was in 2002 for The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Aiza points out that she gave up a lot for Avenue Q. "Mga gigs, of course. Sobra yung schedule. Lalo na noong simula pa lang ito, ginagawa namin yung Ysabella. Taping namin M-W-F. Rehearsals namin everyday tapos gumagawa pa ako ng album." Her 10-track album Para Lang Sa ‘Yo (Songs Inspired by Ysabella) was released last September under Star Records.

"Hinihika pa ako nun. Dress rehearsals namin may nebulizer ako. Ang daming na-cancel like out-of-the-country shows," she says, without a trace of regret in her voice. Aiza declares: "It was worth it."

QUIRKY CHARACTERS. The run-down neighborhood of Avenue Q is the setting of Princeton's hilarious journey of self-discovery. Viewers get to meet Brian (Rycharde Everley), the out-of-work comedian and his therapist fianceé Christmas Eve played by the singer Frenchie Dy. Then there's Nicky (Joel Trinidad), the good-hearted slacker and his roommate Rod, played also by Felix Rivera—an uptight investment banker who is actually a closet homosexual. Not to be missed are the characters called Trekkie Monster who is an avowed Internet porn addict; and a very cute kindergarten teaching assistant named Kate.

Featured in the stellar cast are Rachel Alejandro as Kate Monster/Lucy T. Slut, Felix Rivera as Princeton/Rod, Frenchie Dy as Christmas Eve, Rycharde Everley as Brian, Joel Trinidad as Nicky, Trekkie Monster and others, Teenee Chan as Mrs. Thistletwat and others and Aiza Seguera as Gary Coleman.

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Rachel Alejandro tells PEP how she prepared for her role as a puppeteer for the two characters, Kate Monster and Lucy T. Slut. "Nag-gym talaga ako at pinalaki ko talaga ang upper body ko. May mga muscles dito [points to her arm] na hindi mo ine-expect na sasakit talaga. First day ko, I was so overwhelmed...I didn't know if I made a mistake. I don't know if I can do this," she narrates.

"But of course, I'm not a quitter so I just went and went to rehearsals. After a while, they took pity on me and reduced the puppet. They made her lose weight. Pinag-diet nila si Kate Monster. The other puppet, Lucy T. Slut, was okay since sexy na talaga siya," Rachel points out.

The singer became so attached to her role that she even bought a puppet of her own so she could practice with it while the cast went on a three-month break after the first theater run. "I ordered a puppet from the puppet maker. I ordered one like Lucy kasi maganda si Lucy. [laughter] She's the prettier puppet, blond siya and has big boobs.

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"I decided to have my own puppet made because we had a three-month break. They were laughing at me, sabi nila, ‘Sobra ka namang O-C [obsessive-compulsive],'" Rachel says with a laugh.

Aside from working with puppets, Rachel also got to develop a bond with fellow singers Aiza and Frenchie Dy. "I feel grateful...Aiza and I have known each other since we were both children. But we've never had one conversation before. Since this play, since rehearsals...we came together for this play. I feel now she's like a sister to me. We shared such a great experience together.

"She [Aiza] had a concert and I went. I've never seen her perform in a show before and I never would have if we didn't have a play together. I would have never have found out what a fantastic performer she is. I would never have watched an acoustic show out of the blue.

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"She invited me and it was a pleasant surprise. I found myself like a groupie there. I was singing with the audience and raising my arms in the air," Rachel recounts.

Considered as an unholy comedic alliance of humans and puppets, Avenue Q is directed by Bobby Garcia and Chari Arespacochaga. Production design is by Mio Infante, lighting design by Jay Aranda, puppet execution by Sam Fuentes and Marvin Choa based on the original Broadway designs of Rick Lyons and musical direction by Jojo Malferari.

For show buying and ticket information, contact Atlantis Productions at 892-7078 or 840-1187. Tickets are also available at Ticketworld 891-9999.

Venue: Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City


14 December 2007 Friday 8 pm
15 December 2007 Saturday 2 pm and 8 pm
16 December 2007 Sunday 3 pm and 8 pm
18 December 2007 Tuesday 8 pm
20 December 2007 Thursday 8 pm
21 December 2007 Friday 8 pm
22 December 2007 Saturday 2 pm and 8 pm
23 December 2007 Sunday 3 pm and 8 pm

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(From left) Frenchie Dy, Rachel Alejandro, and Aiza Seguerra bond together while rehearsing for Avenue Q. The repeat performances of this comic musical will take place at the RCBC Plaza, Makati City, from December 14-23, 2007.
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