The music of Francis Magalona is immortalized anew via the play 3 Stars and a Sun.
Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) will use songs of the King of Pinoy Hip-Hop for the closing feature of its 48th season.
This musical theater production comes at the heels of PETA's successful re-runs of hit rock-comedy musical Rak of Aegis and modern re-staging of the classic theater piece Noli at Fili Dekada Dos Mil.
3 Stars and a Sun has a dystopian setting wherein the Philippines is imagined to be under a “stormdome,” a protective shelter that safeguards the country from global warfare and extreme weather.
The story focuses on the clash between two gangs--one from Luminos City and the other from Diliman City--and their discovery of more important issues apart from their petty feud.
PETA gave a preview of its upcoming musical during its December 10 press conference at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City.
The musical’s director Nor Domingo differentiates 3 Stars and a Sun from Rak of Aegis. He pointed out, “If you saw Rak of Aegis, it will be different, it will be futuristic.”
For this production, PETA transformed the classic hits and poetry of Francis Magalona into a musical spectacle that talks about the youth, good governance, and nation building.
Musical director Myke Salomon, who was recently awarded Outstanding Musical Direction for the Rak of Aegis, is currently working on the production’s music.
Myke explained that the creative team had to rephrase some of Francis M.’s songs to perfectly fit the story of the musical.
He said, “Ang ginawa namin po dito is, the music it’s actually the words and the poetry of Francis M. Once again, we want to rework, rebuild, and make a new sound for this musical.
“Kumbaga, hiniram namin yung poetry ni Francis M for this musical. Kasi yun nga yung, most of his songs are about nationalism and love for country.
“‘Tapos yung mga problems natin dito sa Pilipinas puro ganun so we want to create a new work out of his songs parang Rak of Aegis.”
He added, “Nag-change kami ng konti, ni-rephrase naming ganyan, ganun, basta [abangan niyo sa] Feb 4, opening.”
The theater director also noted that all of Francis’ works will be represented by the musical.
Nor said, “We gathered all his songs tapos pinakinggan namin, pinakinggan namin ng ano lang zero emotions, zero judgement.
“And we just took the words muna, the lyrics, the storyline of each song tapos nung jinumble-jumble namin talaga ayun, first song ‘Mga Kababayan Ko.’”
He said, “We actually listened to all his songs, literally. We listened to every album, every song, and alam naman na namin yung istorya and the script.
“So, ‘Uy yan bagay yan, uy yan puwede yan.’ So talagang lahat ng albums may kinuha kami.
“There are stuff that were not played on the radio because harsh siya.”
Production design is done by Gino Gonzales, lighting design is handled by Shoko Matsumoto and Ian Torqueza, sound design by Teresa Barrozo, and choreography by Delphine Buencamino.
THE CAST. Paolo Valenciano plays one of the lead characters, Chino, who hails from Luminos City. He alternates with Gio Gahol.
Before joining this stage play, Paolo has been part of several theater productions including the Sandbox Collective’s No Filter which was staged on October 2015.
Asked why he thought of joining this production, Paolo answered, “Si Myke [Salomon] po, si Myke nanood ng No Filter and asked me to audition.”
The member from Luminos City will go against Sol from Diliman City played alternately by Nicco Manalo and Gold Villar.
Other cast members include Che Ramos-Cosio and Carla Guevara-Laforteza as Congresswoman Inky, Bodjie Pascua and Raffy Tejada as Mang Okik, Giannina Ocampo and Justine Peña as Dianne, Anna Luna and Jet Barrun as Nazty, John Moran and Nar Cabico as Poy, Lee Villoria and EJ Pepito as Kat, Anj Heruela and Gab Pangilinan as Chelsea, and Jef Flores and Norbs Portales as Winston.
Members of the Magalona family were noticeably absent during the media launch, sparking curiosity whether they will join the stage play.
In an interview with PEP.ph, Pia said that the theater company approached her as one of their creative consultants.
PETA also extended the invite for Francis M.’s children to audition for a role in the theater production.
Nor said, “We invited the… and it was actually said na sana makasama yung some of his children but of course, they were welcome to audition but no one came.
“So we just continued and casted it without them. Sana, we were hoping, we were hoping actually na makasama yung… we were thinking Elmo or Frank.”
PETA’s Artistic Director, Maribel Legarda, added, “I think siguro their priority right now...I think Elmo just transferred to ABS-CBN, right? You know naman theater, it really takes a lot of your time."
THE STORY. The musical 3 Stars and Sun is written by Mixcaela Villalon and Rody Vera. During the press conference, Mixcaela recounted how they conceptualized the story.
She told the press, “I think around May, PETA was texting a bunch of us.
“I think 15 writers and then, the instructions that PETA gave was, ‘We’re making a musical, kind of like Rak of Aegis using the songs of Francis M. pero sana hindi parang Rak of Aegis.’
“And that was the only instruction given but I saw Rak of Aegis and I’m a fan of Francis M. and I was thinking…
“First of all, I’m a very big science fiction fan. That in itself parang, ‘Okay, mag-science fiction tayo.’
“‘Tapos I saw Rak of Aegis and I saw what PETA was capable of in terms of the set kasi nagpasok sila ng baha so I was thinking, ‘Let’s put an entire storm dome.’
“So, given the songs of Francis M, I was trying think of a story that would bridge all of this songs together.
“And I noticed that there is a recurring line in a lot of his songs which is ‘paghahanap ng liwanag sa dilim.’
“So, I worked on that and then I created this world in the future, in 2096 na what if the entire Philippines is covered in a storm dome.”
Asked why she chose a science-fiction genre for this musical, Mixaela believes that this is already a familiar theme to young Filipinos and that it will be perfect tool to reflect the current situation of the Philippines.
“Also, I noticed din na in our generation, young people these days, sobrang uso nung science fiction stories like Hunger Games, like Divergent.
“This, I feel is our genre or we’re very familiar with this and it’s a way for PETA, for us to highlight current pressing issues but frame it a way that seems unfamiliar.
“And ‘di ba science fiction is always a very good tool for putting up a mirror to the present time.
“So parang speculative siya na parang if we continue down this track which is not so good, this future might be possible.”
Catch 3 Stars and a Sun on February 4 to March 6, 2016 from Tuesdays to Sundays (Tue-Fri 8PM, Sat-Sun 3PM and 8PM) at the PETA Theater Center located at No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City.
For tickets and inquiries you may call Tel. No. (02) 725-6244 or visit petatheater.com and ticketworld.com.ph.