Playing one of the lead roles in the stage play-turned-indie film Changing Partners has given Anna Luna wider recognition in mainstream showbiz.
For starters, she got signed up by ABS-CBN’s talent-management agency, Star Magic, and was launched last March as a member of the new batch of contract artists collectively called 2018 Star Magic Circle.
Other members of the group include La Luna Sangre actor Tony Labrusca, MYX VJ Donny Pangilinan, and Filipino-Australian beauty Leila Alcasid, who’s also the eldest child of veteran singer/actor/TV host Ogie Alcasid.
Anna told PEP.ph at the recent press junket for the restaging of Changing Partners that she earned the nod Star Magic chairman emeritus Johnny “Mr. M” Manahan after he watched the movie.
Changing Partners was an entry to the 2017 Cinema One Originals before Star Cinema released it for nationwide distribution last January.
A wide grin appears on Anna’s pretty face as she tries to piece together how she ended up being handpicked by Mr. M.
“Sabi niya yata, ‘Sino si Anna Luna?’” she says. “Ganito, ganito. Pinatawag ako.”
At that time, the actress was in the cast of the Kapamilya teleserye Hanggang Saan, which aired from November 2017 to April 2018.
Now that she’s with Star Magic, Anna hopes to be given more opportunities and better exposure on TV and film projects.
“Kasi dati, gawa lang ako ako ng gawa,” she explains. “Bahala na kung sino ang makapansin. Pero ngayon, napa-prioritize.”
For that development in her acting career, she feels “masaya at suwerte.”
“Abangan niyo kasi meron akong bago,” she says of her new TV project. “Na-cast ako sa isang serye. Pero bawal pa, confidential po. Mag-i-story con na kami.”
But, nope, she won’t abandon theater and the indie world, where her acting talent has been honed and applauded.
Anna was named Best Actress at the Five Continents Film Festival in Venezuela in November 2017 for the advocacy film, Maestra. Six months later, she was nominated for the same category and entry at the 2018 Philadelphia Independent Film Awards in the United States.
Prior to those citations, Anna won the Best Supporting Actress award at the 2015 ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards in Malaysia for the drama Bendor.
In the local scene, she has won awards and nominations from Cinema One Originals and Gawad Urian.
Anna makes it clear that she’s open to working on different platforms.
“Ako naman, do’n ako sa maganda talaga ang materyal, e,” she points out.
“At saka ngayon, habang ginagawa namin ang Changing Partners, kaming apat, tawid naman kami sa soap,” she adds, referring to her co-stars Agot Isidro, Jojit Lorenzo, and Sandino Martin.
“So, hindi namin ’to maiwanan. Parang treat na rin ito sa amin as an actor. Ang ganda ho kasi ng materyal, e.
“So, ang sarap niyang gawin paulit-ulit… masaktan. Haha!”
Changing Partners is a musical that tells the story of the May-December love affair of Alex, a successful mid-lifer, and Cris, an aimless millennial, that hits the rocks after six years of living together.
It is told through four sets of scenarios: in an older woman (Agot) and young man (Sandino) relationship; in a lesbian relationship (Agot and Anna); in an older man (Jojit) and a younger woman relationship (Anna Luna); and in a gay relationship (Jojit and Sandino).
Written by playwright/musician/actor Vincent A. De Jesus and directed by theater stalwart Rem Zamora, Changing Partners debuted as a full production, titled Changing Partners: A Torch Musical, in September 2016 at the 115-seater PETA Theater Center’s Studios.
Its movie adaption, directed by Dan Villegas, was screened at Cinema One Originals in November 2017.
This May, it returns as Changing Partners: The Stage Musical at the PETA-Phinma Theater, the main hall of PETA Theater Center that has a seating capacity of 400, with the same cast and director.
Anna sees little differences between acting onstage and in film.
“Kasi ’yong amount no’ng pain, iisa lang din naman ang nilalabas namin,” she explains.
“Ito kasi, maraming beses na namin nire-rehearse,” she says of the stage version. “Nakakahanap kami ng, ‘Ah, bago ’to!’
“Unlike pag pelikula, locked na ’yon, e. Kung ano ang na-shoot mo, ’yon na. Kaya dapat maayos ang maibigay.
“Kaya sa stage, nakaka-discover pa kami nang madami. Ito, walang editing. Di puwedeng ma-edit.”
Aside from Changing Partners, Anna is also seen in the movie Citizen Jake, which will be shown in cinemas on May 23.
The Kapamilya actress is similarly proud of her work in master filmmaker Mike de Leon’s comeback project after 19 years of hiatus.
“Kinakabahan nga po ako, e,” she beams. “At sobrang suwerte dahil ilang… Dalawa lang yata kami ni Elora [Españo] do’n, e, sa cast.
“Sobrang suwerte namin na mapabilang sa Citizen Jake, at Mike de Leon movie po ’yon. Kahit na ando’n na si Mike de Leon, wala pa kami. Hindi pa kami pinapanganak.
“Sobrang blessed po. Ang mga kasabay naming mga artista do’n, mga bigating artista. So kailangan naming hindi ma-starstruck.”
Indeed, everything’s coming up roses for the talented and hardworking actress, Anna Luna.
Changing Partners: The Stage Musical has four shows this weekend, May 19 and 20 at 3 p.m. and at 8 p.m. For tickets, check out the website of Ticketworld and the Facebook page of PETA Theater Center. Also, call or text 0945-4991008.