Gian Magdangal plays Crisostomo Ibarra in stage musical Noli Me Tangere; says he finds fulfillment in theater

Gian Magdangal, who plays a lead role in Noli Me Tangere, The Musical, says this is his first appearance in a Filipino musical.

"[It’s] something very different," says Gian, who is Filipino-American. "I’m in the adjustment period, kasi I’ve been used to interpreting, understanding stories and telling them in English [and] singing them in English.




Gian Magdangal is destined for fame, but in a different way.

He is, like most stars of today, a product of a reality search, having clinched a runner-up position in Philippine Idol in 2006.

Unlike most male celebrities, Gian was already 24 years old when showbiz beckoned.



Dubbed the "Livewire Idol" in the reality search, this was Giancarlo "Gian" Alzate Magdangal’s first claim to fame.

Soon, he was dabbling in singing and acting, and in a medium where he has found fulfillment— the theater.



Sa edad na 29 (isinilang siya noong Nobyembre 18, 1981), maaaring hindi muna siya napansin sa mas popular na mga medyum, tulad ng telebisyon at pelikula, pero agad natanggap ang talento ni Gian, sa mas mapaghamong mundo ng entablado.



Tulad sa musical theater adaptation ng Noli Me Tangere (ni Dr. Jose Rizal), wherein Gian plays the male lead, Crisostomo Ibarra (alternating with Mark Bautista).



Kasalukuyang itinatanghal ang musical na ito ng Tanghalang Pilipino (TP), sa Little Theater ng Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).



"This is my fourth [musical] this year," wika ni Gian sa panayam ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal).

"I started with Rent [last year], then The Wedding Singer [this year], then Rent again, and Kaos at the Resorts World. A spectacular musical."



Bilang Crisostomo Ibarra (to Cris Villonco’s Maria Clara) sa restaged Noli Me Tangere musical, si Gian ang naging tampok sa opening nito noong August 5.



Ito ang nagbukas ng kasalukuyang season ng Tanghalang Pilipino (TP), na nagdiriwang ng kanilang ika-25 taon (silver anniversary). Ito ay directed by Audie Gemora, mula sa musika ni Ryan Cayabyab, at libretto ni Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for Literature.



Unlike his previous performances, Gian’s appearance in the current production is considered a breakthrough of sorts, dahil ito ang unang pagkakataon na lumabas siya sa isang Filipino musical.



"Yes, definitely. Something very different," sabi ni Gian, who is Filipino-American.

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"I’m in the adjustment period, kasi I’ve been used to interpreting, understanding stories and telling them in English [and] singing them in English.



"Even in my first album, singing in English, has always been... within my comfort zone," sabi pa ni Gian.



"At saka, sa bahay kasi, we usually speak... English. My father is an American. So, doing everything in Tagalog, pag-iisip na Tagalog, maybe [a matter of] adjustment siya. Tinitingnan ko na lang siya na isang bagay na hindi mahirap.



"Kumbaga, wala akong excuse na maging mahirap siya. Isang bagay lang siya na dapat na muli kong ibuklat, parang gano’n," aniya.



"Matagal ko na siya talagang gustong i-explore, yung teatro sa Pilipinas, na Tagalog o original. Ngayon lang talaga nagkaroon ng pagkakataon," pahayag pa ni Gian, na matatas ding magsalita ng Tagalog.



WELL-VERSED. Bilang Crisostomo Ibarra, ang pangunahing character sa Noli Me Tangere ni Jose Rizal, may sapat o kaukulang paghahanda si Gian para magampanan nang mahusay ang naitokang papel.



"Oo naman. Alam ko na yung plot; I’m very familiar with the story (of Noli...) having studied in La Salle na, siyempre, requirement natin ’yan," aniya.



"And, nanood uli ako nu’ng movie. Isa sa paborito kong movie yung Jose Rizal, yung kay Cesar Montano... ng GMA Films," banggit din ni Gian.

"Kumbaga, na-remind ako, na sinasabi ko sa sarili ko, ’Ito ang paborito ko...’ parang gano’n."



Ang nasabing pelikula, dinirek ni Marilou Diaz-Abaya, at ipinalabas noong 1998 (centennial year), ay maituturing na definitive film on Rizal and his immortal novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.



This year, sa okasyon ng ika-150 birth anniversary, o ang Rizal sesquicentennial, ang Noli Me Tangere, The Musical, ng TP, ay totoong napapanahon.



"At saka, having to work with Tito Audie [Gemora], who’s my mentor, is something that I want to do again... I want to work with him again, [especially] in a big production like this."

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FILM AND THEATER. Despite his exposure to theater musicals, wala pa ni isang pelikulang tinampukan si Gian Magdangal.



He revealed, "I’ve never had an apportunity to do film. Wala talaga, e. I also don’t know kasi how it works.



"[My manager], wala pa rin naman siyang sinabi. [But], hopefully, magkaroon after this. Kasi, it’s also something that I’ve been wanting to do, looking for auditions, something like that.



"Sa industriya natin, hindi ko alam... hindi kagaya sa theater yung cinema, e. Or, hindi ko lang siguro alam kung paano yung protocol do’n.



"Sa theater kasi, mas open book. Na kung gusto mong sumali, mag-audition ka," ani Gian.



These days, some productions, tulad sa mga indie films, mayroon na ring kabi-kabilang auditions.



"Yun ang isang bagay na hindi ako [masyadong] aware," sabi ni Gian. "O siguro, hindi pa talaga ako nabigyan ng pagkakataon."



Otherwise, he said, "I really welcome the idea [of doing movies]. Yun nga lang, wala pa talagang opportunity."



TELEVISION. Gian Magdangal is seen, regularly, on television, tulad ng Sunday musical-variety show na Party Pilipinas ng GMA-7.

"I’m a singer talaga, first and foremost," he said. "In my acting naman, this [musical theater appearance] is, of course, a big challenge."



Ano naman ang naging karanasan ni Gian sa TV drama o teleserye?



"Nakapag-arte na ako ng isang beses, sa Rosalinda [isang teleserye]," pagtukoy pa ni Gian, sa nakagawiang pananagalog.



Sa Kapuso station kabilang ngayon ang Fil-Am singer-actor. Kasabay niya sa nasabing teleserye ang pagsisimula ng nagbidang young actress na si Carla Abellana.



"I was part of the whole season of Rosalinda. Best friend ako [doon] ni Geoff Eigenmann. I played Gerardo. Yun ang first ko, in 2008. Medyo hindi [na] naulit. Pero kasi, since then, ang daming musical [offers]."



JOLINA’S COUSIN. "Before I became a solo singer, year 2000 pa, I was part of a group—17/28 [boy band]. Nagkaroon kami ng tatlong albums. Yung pangatlong album was part of a compilation ng Viva Records.

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"Naging solo singer ako after Philippine Idol. Nag-record ako ng first album ko. And now I’m doing my second solo album under Dyna Records; original [songs] naman."



Sa pagiging singer-recording artist ay katulad niya ang kanyang pinsan na si Jolina Magdangal.

Ayon kay Gian, he relates well with Jolina.



"Well, we see each other every Sunday, every week naman, sa Party Pilipinas," sabi ni Gian. "Of course, we’re close, ever since naman."



Hindi sila sabay lumaki ni Jolina, ayon din kay Gian, who’s taller dahil may dugong Amerikano siya.



"Lumaki ako sa States," he revealed. "A big part of my life was spent in the States. Pag-uwi ko dito, saka ko lang nakilala yung mga iba kong kamag-anak.



"Yun ang story. Ngayon, nagkakasama kami, in the same show pa. It’s really nice to have family in the same industry."



SHEREE’S LOVER. Hindi pa kasal si Gian, pero mayroon na siyang steady girlfriend of four years, si Sheree (Vidal Bautista), former member of Viva Hot Babes.



"Me and Sheree are still together and we’re both raising our son, he’s three years old; kakapasok lang niya sa school," pagtukoy ni Gian.



Sa isang hiwalay na interview ng PEP ay nabanggit naman ni Sheree ang name ng kanilang love child—si Gian Haley.



"That’s the other half of my [personality] — raising a child," matapat na wika pa ng young dad.



Any marriage plans?



"We haven’t had the time to ponder and plan that [marriage]," sabi pa ni Gian. "Ang nangyayari din kasi, si Sheree, she’s also busy.



"She’s doing Sweet Charity, with 9 Works Theatrical [ongoing at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater, in RCBC Plaza], her second musical, after Rent," Gian said.



"Ano kami, e... sabi ko nga, habang bata pa tayo, we should concentrate on our work."

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FULFILLMENT. Although they don’t get paid a lot, Gian said he and Sheree find fulfillment in theater.



"Ang nangyayari, nagkakataon lang, we’re really lucky that we get these opportunities that keep us comfortable," he said. "Also, my parents are still here, they really help us talaga.

"Mahirap din talaga. Ako kasi, simple life lang naman... I don’t think you need to be an extravagant artist.



"Madali rin naman ’to look expensive’... alam mo yun? Parang gano’n," nangingiting sambit pa ni Gian.



"I think fulfillment is what matters most."



Mahalaga sa isang tunay na artist, like Gian, to put a premium on one’s talent for singing or acting, at ang puspusang paglinang nito.



"Kumbaga, yun ang iuuwi mo," aniya.

"Du’n sa mga bagay naman, na kailangang bilhin, na pisikal o material things, we can reward ourselves sometimes. Pero [dapat] only within our means lang naman. Parang gano’n lang. Simple lang," pagtatapos ni Gian.


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