Nakausap ng PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) ang award-winning stage actress na si Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo.
Nasa media launch si Menchu ng bagong musical-comedy play na The 39 Steps noong February 15, sa Rehearsal Hall ng Repertory Philippines sa Ortigas Center, at gayundin sa evening performance ng dulang The Joy Luck Club, last Ferbuary 18, sa Onstage-Greenbelt 1 sa Makati City.
Nasa parehong okasyon ang stage actress, bilang newly appointed Associate Artistic Director ng Repertory Philippines.
Taon 1978 nang unang sumali sa Rep si Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, who was then 15 years old.
Ayon kay Menchu, napanood niya ang musical na The King and I (Rep's 16th theater season) and she was knew that theater was going to be her life.
"There was no turning back," she said. "My passion for theater was born. The quest to perfect my craft was all-consuming!"
In the early '80s, her younger brother, Raymond Lauchengco, who has also established himself in the arts (theater, TV, recording and movies) also joined Rep.
RAYMOND AND KARYLLE. With brother, Raymond, Menchu recalled, "We did commercials, only as the 'Pepsi generation.' But [we were] never in a movie together. Musicals, we did plenty. We did The Sound of Music, South Pacific... ang dami! Because we started out together. Hanggang nag-recording na si Raymond, tapos, nag-movies na siya; nawala na siya sa theater.
"Ako, naiwan... kasi ito talaga ang love ko. Love ko talaga ang theater!" she said.
Repertory Philippines is now on its 74th season. How old is Menchu?
"Guess?" she said, before revealing: "I'm [now] 47 years old!"
Mukhang in her 30s pa si Menchu. Maaari pa siyang gumanap sa mga stage role o character na higit na bata kaysa tunay niyang edad.
"Yes!" she nodded in approval. "That's why nga, si Anton Juan (guest director of The Joy Luck Club), galit na galit sa akin. 'Why are you playing mother? You shouldn't be playing mother roles!'"
Ang tinutukoy ni Anton Juan ay ang pagganap ni Menchu sa Light In The Piazza (ng Stages Productions), bilang nanay ng singer-actress na si Karylle. Ang naturang musical ay itatanghal sa kalagitnaan ng taong 2011.
MOVIES, TV AND STAGE. Menchu has appeared in a few movies, either in cameo or supporting roles, kabilang na dito ang light romance-drama, Good Morning, Sunshine, na pinagbidahan nina Vilma Santos, Lloyd Samartino at ng Spanish actor na AMB Junior.
The film was directed by Ishmael Bernal (National Artist for Film) at prinodyus ng (now inactive) Lea Productions.
Mas maraming nagawang shows para sa telebisyon si Menchu, noong 1980s.
"I haven't done TV in a long time," sabi niya. "Before, I did so many. We're talking of the '80s, ha. I hosted Patok Na Patok (a game show), and we had our own TV show, Let's Go. I also co-hosted Disco Rama (with the late Bobby Ledesma). I was in Penthouse Live (on GMA-7 which had a succession of hosts, the most successful being the tandem of Pops Fernandez and Martin Nievera).
"Ang dami ko ding ginawang teleserye," dagdag pa ni Menchu. "I remember, we did one version of a Jose Rizal teleserye (for RPN-9); si Joel Torre pa ang Jose Rizal and I was Josephine Bracken..."
Sa kasalukuyang panahon, maaari siya uling magpaka-aktibo, lalo sa telebisyon. Pero hesitant ang aktres, na nanalo ng award (Best Lead Performance in a Musical, for Rep's Sweeney Todd) noong isang taon during the 2nd Philstage Gawad Buhay Awards.
"Alam mo naman ang schedule dito [sa teatro], mahirap, e," katwiran niya. "And when you're rehearsing, katulad ngayon, sa Next To Normal (for Atlantis Productions), blinock-off ko lahat [ng schedule ko].
"Concentrate lang ako du'n sa role. We rehearse from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day! That's six hours! Wala ka nang ibibigay after... Sa gabi, nandito naman ako sa Rep.
"Pero after the press night of The 39 Steps (which opens onMarch 7), hindi na ako magpapakita, kasi mag-o-open ang [Next to Normal] sa March 11. So I have to focus na. Halos sabay 'yon."
Acting for the stage and supervising Rep productions occupy her day-to-day activities. Menchu has hardly any time left for other artistic ventures like television or movies.
"So every time they call me for tapings, I can't! E, madalas, out-of-town pa. So, mahirap," she said. "You have to give me at least one month, para ma-block off ko na yung schedule."
ON SAM CONCEPCION. Ang isa pang much-awaited production ng Rep this year ay ang musical na Peter Pan, topbilled by young singer-actor, Sam Concepcion.
Kamakailan ay naging matagumpay ang pagpu-front act ni Sam sa Valentine's Day concert ng foreign country singer na si Taylor Swift. Later this year, inaasahang muling magtatamo ng acclaim ang kilalang Star Magic talent, sa pagsasa-entablado ng Peter Pan sa September, 2011
"Matagal pa 'yan, but we're excited na," sabi ni Menchu. "I'm directing it. Me and Jaime Blanche are directing it!"
Halos isang taon ang preparasyon para sa malaking musical-fantasy na ito. Mapapanood na ang teaser nito sa YouTube, kunsaan makikitang lumilipad si Sam, who plays the role of Peter Pan, the boy who refuses to grow up.
"We've finished casting and we'll start rehearsing in July," sabi ni Menchu.
Magkakaroon ba ng alternate si Sam?
"We're thinking of having an understudy lang," sagot ni Menchu. "Ang problema kasi, if we give him (Sam) an alternate... 'di ba, mahirap? People want to watch Sam. Baka mag-reklamo ang tao, e.
"Understudy for Sam, yes. An alternate kasi is... alternate kayong magpe-perform. An understudy only performs pag nagkasakit yung lead. So, stand by lang siya," aniya.
All-PRAISES. "But it has to be Sam!" Menchu said. "He's so bagay! He's so cute!
"So, we're probably gonna get an understudy who will be in the cast. So, stand by lang siya. That's my plan. Ewan ko lang kung mag-iiba pa 'yan," she said.
"Me and Jaime, we're both directing it because... sabay ang performance ng Light in the Piazza, sa rehearsals ng Peter Pan. I cannot handle everything so we're sharing responsibilities.
"I also have to save my voice," sabi pa rin ni Menchu.