The creation of jukebox musical—a stage or film musical production based on past hit songs by usually popular artists or bands—has become a trend lately in the Philippine theater scene.
In April 2018, Sa Wakas, which utilizes the music of the pop-alt band Sugarfree and its former lead singer and songwriter Ebe Dancel, had its third staging.
Two months later, Rak of Aegis, returned onstage for its sixth run to satisfy the public’s seemingly insatiable appetite for the vocally challenging songs of the Aegis band.
Then just last July 20, Ang Huling El Bimbo premiered as a fitting tribute to the iconic 1990s rock band Eraserheads.
This August 3, Eto na! Musikal nAPO! opens with a promise to make people fall in love again with the now classic tunes of the vocal trio APO Hiking Society.
Mark Bautista and Rita Daniela are some of the stars who are part of this Pinoy musical.
APO Hiking Society, aka APO, is composed of Danny Javier, Jim Paredes, and Boboy Garovillo. They are considered as pillars of Original Pilipino Music (OPM).
Though there’s a trend, the APO musical’s writer and director, Robbie Guevara, believes that it hasn’t saturated the market.
“Well, hindi naman kasi pare-pareho,” he told PEP.ph at the recent presscon for Eto na! Musikal nAPO!
“Rak is on their sixth year. That’s how successful they are. I hope they reach out to more audiences.”
Robbie himself has seen Rak of Aegis, and the experience had him thinking, “Kaya ko ’yan! I think I can do something like that.”
But he didn’t think that he would do a musical on APO because a musical film had been made using APO songs.
I Do Bidoo Bidoo: Heto nApo Sila, a romantic drama-comedy released in 2012, had its cast, including Gary Valenciano, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Ogie Alcasid, and Eugene Domingo, singing some of APO’s hits to help move the story forward.
“When Boboy mentioned that I should write the musical,” Robbie recalled, “one of my questions was may I Do Bidoo Bidoo na.”
He said that the APO member assured him that there were no plans of turning the movie into a stage play.
Robbie went on writing the story, which revolves around a high school barkada in the ’70s, and gave it to Boboy.
“And he liked it,” the writer-director said of Boboy’s reaction.
Boboy then passed the script on to his bandmate Jim Paredes, while saying something like “Read it kasi it’s cute.”
Robbie made it clear that he came up with something “very different” from I Do Bidoo Bidoo and that his work is completely original.
“We’re using some of the songs there in the movie,” he said. “But I didn’t get to watch it in its entirety, to be honest. So I wasn’t influenced by it.”
He added that the 25 songs that are in Eto na! Musikal nAPO playlist covers the trio’s productive years from the 1970s to 2000s.
“There’s no other local band that has the same library than APO has,” Robbie pointed out, mentioning the legendary musical act’s 49 years in the industry.
“Nobody can match that. And it’s not all love songs. They have songs about family, they have songs about barkada.
“Like what I said earlier during the presscon, I can actually write two to three musicals with the other songs, with different themes.”
In his interview with PEP.ph, Robbie said the APO members had been very helpful to him and the production.
He explained that he initially wanted the musical’s title to be Musikal nAPO Sila, as a nod to the trio’s past albums, concerts and TV shows that ended with the phrase nAPO Sila, such as their noontime shows Sa Linggo nAPO Sila and ’Sang Linggo nAPO Sila.
“Pero ’yon na nga, people might think they’re coming out in the musical,” he pointed out.
Thankfully, Boboy suggested a more apt title: Eto na! Musikal nAPO!
Robbie said that the APO members have been gracious in giving input into the production that is jointly presented by Globe LIVE and 9Works Theatrical.
“But they didn’t force it,” he said. “They suggested and reiterated that it’s just a suggestion, and that I don’t have to follow it.
“But I followed almost every single suggestion—music, storyline, title, etc.”
After APO, Eraserheads, Sugarfree, and Aegis, whose songs could be used for the next musical?
Eto na! Musikal nAPO! runs from August 3 to 26, 2018 at the Maybank Performing Arts Center at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City. For tickets, visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.