In the banner of Cory the Musical, a lady in yellowis depicted flashing the "Laban" sign (her thumb and forefinger shaped like aletter L). At first glance, she appears to be former President Corazon "Cory"Aquino but a closer inspection reveals that she is none other than IsayAlvarez, a theater actress who is tapped to portray Tita Cory in the upcomingmusical.
Mrs. Lourdes "Bing" Pimentel conceptualized this musicalplay as a "gift" to former President Cory Aquino, who is currently battlingcolon cancer. The wife of Senator Nene Pimentel chose Nestor Torre to directthis play and they chose Isay Alvarez to portray the first female President ofthe Philippines. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. will be played by opera singerSherwin Sozon.
Cory the Musical will also star Isay's husband, Robert Seña, as formerPresident Ferdinand Marcos and Pinky Marquez as former First Lady ImeldaMarcos. Veteran actor Tommy Abuel will also be tapped to portray a reporter whofollows the lives of the political leaders.
Has Isay met Cory previously? "Personally for this, hindipa. I would love if I would have ameeting with her, you know and ask her a lot of questions," says Isay.
Isay says that she has been preparing for this plum rolesince August this year. How did she prepare?
"[I read] napakaraming documentaries, books, articles,magazines, and from the Internet. Ofcourse, with the help of Nestor [Torre, the director and writer of the play]."
She adds, "Kinilala ko siya, how she thinks, how she feels. According toNestor, kailangan dumating na kayo sa point that you treat Cory as your bestfriend. You befriend her. Kailangan you get to know her, e."
What was the most challenging thing that she had to do forthis play? Isay recalls, "In the beginning, I was really having a hard timebecause she is portrayed as very gentle but she's not. She's strong. She cannot be timid and very composed all the time. There must besomething in her that's why she's like that. Noong una nga ayaw kong sumigaw saplay."
Through her research, the former Miss Saigon actressfound out that Tita Cory became really angry when she learned that Ninoy wasplanning to return to the Philippines. "Parang feeling niya talagang mamamataysi Ninoy and she had to go through that [his imprisonment] again. Harrowingexperience na naman."
When asked who will play Kris Aquino in this musical play,Isay said with a laugh, "Bata ang gaganap sa kanya kasi maliit panaman si Kris noon, e. Saka baka masyadong akong ma-upstage!"
ASERO STAR. Since Isay is also part of the GMA-7 show Codename: Asero,how does she balance her time?
"Medyo hindi madali kasi ‘pag may regular taping ka ng TVshow, they only tell you like two days before, di ba? E, most of the time, yungmga shows, you're committed around two or three months ahead of time."
Butshe adds that she is very grateful for this chance to appear on stage and ontelevision. "I am so blessed that I can do theater, I can do television, I cando movies, and sometimes even corporate shows. Sabi ko, sino ba naman ang hindimag-e-enjoy?"
How is it like working with the Asero stars such as Heart Evangelistaand Richard Gutierrez?
"Nakakatuwanaman sila kasi I come from a different world. When I say theatre kasi lagikayong seryoso when you're rehearsing, di ba? Rehearse, rehearse...talagangseryoso. Sila, na-amaze ako and I respect them for that they can actuallyplay or magbiruan sila during rehearsal. Rehearse sila ng lines and then 'pagsinabing ‘Take!' tulo agad ang luha.
"Sabiko, ‘Paano n'yo ginagawa yun?' Me, I have to prepare. Kumbaga,hinahalukay ko pa 'yan sa likod ng puso ko and then silang parang... And for that,I really, really respect them."
Cory The Musical will be staged by Buhay Isang Awit Foundation fromNovember 29 to December 1 at the Meralco Theater. Click HERE to learn moreabout Cory the Musical.