This is the ultimate '90s throwback!
Around 40 Eraserheads classics will be tapped for the original musical Ang Huling El Bimbo.
Starring Jon Santos, Gian Magdangal, OJ Mariano, and Tanya Manalang, this musical depicts the story about friends who drifted apart and reunite after two decades.
A theater production based on the songs of a hit-making Pinoy band is not a new concept. But to deal with the catalogue of a group that had the most hits and is considered the most iconic of them all changes the ball game.
Ang Huling El Bimbo, featuring songs of the Eraserheads, promises to be a treat for fans, die-hard or at least familiar to the discography, of what is dubbed as the Pinoy Fab Four.
The rights to around 40 songs of the band that mainstreamed alternative rock in the early '90s will be “integrated as vital parts” of this musical to premiere on July 20 at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila. The show will run until August 26, 2018.
“We’re going to use as much of the music as possible but not necessarily in its entirety. In other words we’re using the Eraserheads songs as part of the narrative, “ said Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, artistic director of Full House Theater Company (FHTC) which is behind the production.
FHTC is the production outfit of Resorts World Manila.
OLD FRIENDS REUNITE. Ang Huling El Bimbo is basically a two-timelined story of “three friends who have drifted apart in adulthood until fate reunites them,” giving them a chance to “confront their haunted past” together.
The production involves musical director Myke Salomon, playwright Dingdong Novenario, and director Dexter Santos who is obviously an E-heads fan. “It’s my lifelong dream to direct a musical based on Eraserheads songs,” admitted Dexter.
But more than the reunion plot and the tried-and-tested line-up of thespians tapped to be part of this project, it’s really the inclusion of Eraserheads numbers to be rendered in new arrangements that will serve as main come-on of the show.
The director himself promises “not to change the lyrics of Eraserheads” to update them for today’s generation. That somehow ensures that the naughtily smiling girl in yellow outfit with green hair will still be seen on a magazine and not via an online site.
HOPE OF ANOTHER EHEADS REUNION. Mark Manalang of Ultimate Shows, Inc, which is in cooperation with RWM for this highly anticipated stage play, pointed out that the idea of doing this project was inspired by the trend of “doing a musical out of popular songs.”
“We got the rights to the songs of Eraserheads. We dealt with the publisher who will relay it to the members,” he said, noting that majority of the songs in the list were written by frontman Ely Buendia.
Though none of the E-heads members are directly involved in the production, all of them will surely be invited to attend the premiere.
“They are very much invited and we will formally do so. I hope they will come,” stressed Manalang.
SIGNIFICANT SONGS. When asked to name some of the songs that will be sung by the “three dimensional characters” as he likes to put it, Direk Dexter quickly ran through some classic titles: “With A Smile,” “Pare Ko”, “Spoliarium,” “Torpedo,” “Alapaap,” “Overdrive,” “Poor Man’s Grave,” and, of course, the title track.
He pointed out, “We’re all familiar with that girl who looks like Paraluman. And that tagahugas siya ng pinggan na nasagasaan sa isang madilim na eskinita. I still want to ask what’s gonna happen and let this musical answer that. It is through satisfying the story that fans like me will eventually find themselves satisfied.”
He recalled his feeling of excitement about a school project based on E-heads songs that he helmed for a 2005 class in the University of the Philippines.
For him, “Ang Huling El Bimbo” is the big picture realization of that idea.
PINOY THEATER GOES MAINSTREAM. This project is expected to create a stir among members of the Gen-X who were teenagers when Eraserheads came out with their debut album Ultraelectromagneticpop. This album released in 1993 includes “Toyang,” the favorite E-heads track of Jon Santos because of its “playfulness.”
“Ang Huling El Bimbo” the song is the climactic number from the best-selling E-heads album Cutterpillow that also included other hits like “Overdrive,” “Torpedo,” and “Huwag Mo Nang Itanong.” It is generally counted as their most epic song.
With Ely as chief songwriter-vocalist and backed by drummer Raymund Marasigan, bassist Buddy Zabala, and lead guitarist Marcus Adoro, the Eraserheads produced seven full-length albums, one EP, and a special selection of hits with new songs for the Asian market during their unparallelled eight-year recording career.
Ely left the band in 2002 and the group disintegrated in no time.
Yulo says about their goal, “We are trying to push the Philippine theater further into the mainstream with Ang Huling El Bimbo. It is an original script told through the songs that really meant a lot to generations. It is relatable to all those who experienced the beauty of friendships in their youth.”