Gantimpala Theater introduces a quartet of talented finds

Michael King Urieta and Valerie Tan are some of the young thespians who enrolled in workshops offered by Gantimpala Theater in the past.

Many people dream of becoming a celebrity. Some opt to join reality talent searches while others take a different path. They diligently immerse themselves in the world of the dramatic arts—acting, singing, stage management, production and musical theater workshops, which are offered during the summer months by theater companies.

After a month and a half of various exercises and the presentation of a culminating production—theater discipline, professionalism, and the love for acting are instilled in these young thespians. The theater company then handpicks the promising ones, gives them the opportunity to audition. After sacrificing a lot, these aspiring thespians earn the right to be part of an actors' company. Season after season, these actors undergo rigorous training and gain experience in the plays where they are cast.

Gantimpala Theater gives young people the opportunity to discover their full potential as they become involved and in love with the muses of the dramatic arts. Pen Medina, Joel Lamangan, Ricky Davao, Susan Africa and Tintin Bersola are just some of the names who were once under the care of the 31-year-old theater company. Now, they are familiar names in the entertainment industry.

Four talented finds, namely Perry Escaño, Valerie Tan, Troy de Guzman and Michael King Urieta, also took up the challenge of performing onstage. They all started by participating in the workshops that Gantimpala Theater offers annually.

Perry Escaño and Valerie Tan were batchmates in the 2003 workshop with respected actor Bodjie Pascua as their teacher. Since then, the two have been part of several productions. They started as ensemble cast members and were eventually cast in leading roles.

Perry was part of the play Laro, a story of male-to-male relationships; Bombita, one of the Pearl Theater Festival plays, and he portrayed the role of Kabesang Tales in the dark play El Filibusterismo. He is also an independent film actor. In fact, he just recently took part in a new indie movie titled Magkabilang Direksyon.


Valerie graced the Four Classics prior to playing the feisty Adela in Ang Tahanan ni Bernarda Alba. Her last appearance on the Gantimpala stage was as Mira-Nila in Nick Joaquin's The Queen's Jewel (twin-billed with F.Sionil Jose's The God Stealer, winner of the 2006 Aliw Awards Non- Musical Production trophy). She is now one of the hosts of The Beat, a lifestyle magazine show in QTV 11, the sister station of GMA-7.

Michael King Urieta graduated during the 2005 summer workshop under the guidance of Angie Panogan, a seasoned character actress, dancer and choreographer. After his graduation, Michael appeared as the Narrator in Florante at Laura, Ernesting in Forever, and Greg in Taluktok. This April 12, he and his fellow cast members of the children's musical Ang Pagong at ang Matsing (where he plays the role of the turtle) kick off their 2008 national tour in Edsa Shangri-la Mall.

Troy de Guzman was a participant in last year's workshop under the tandem of ALIW Awards Best Actor Roeder Camañag and tenor Nazer Salcedo. Since then, he was part of the productions Call Me Flory and Bombita. He was also cast as Padre Salvi in Kanser (Noli Me Tangere), considered as the longest running play in Philippine theater history.

Troy was seen in the primetime TV show Kamandag, which topbills Richard Gutierrez. Troy played a Torobaya soldier, one of the Ambograw clans, in the GMA-7 show.

If you want to follow the footsteps of this talented quartet, then join Gantimpala Theater's Acting in Musical Theater Workshop for Teens and Young Adults.

Enrollment is currently on going at the 2/F Open Air Auditorium Building in Luneta, Manila. The workshop officially begins on April 14 and ends on May 16 with Roeder Camañag and Onyl Torres as its facilitators.

You may call 528-0603/536-5860; cellular phone number - 0921-5286308 or write to for other inquiries.


Who knows, this might be the start of your love affair with the theater and the beginning of something big!





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