How does it feel being part of a restaging of one of Broadway’s iconic musicals? For the stars of the upcoming Repertory Philippines (REP) production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CAROUSEL, the opportunity is both a thrill and a responsibility.
Sought-after theater leading man Gian Magdangal and singer, actor, and OPM royalty Karylle Tatlonghari, who are both headlining a REP show for the first time, have shared their experiences in the past months of preps and rehearsals. CAROUSEL is directed by writer, director, producer, and congressman Toff De Venecia.
“As theater actors, we are all just so enthusiastic to be given this chance to do what we’re passionate about. As for me, I couldn’t be any more grateful to be working with the best of Philippine theater,” says Karylle who plays Julie Jordan, a sweet yet naïve millworker. “I’m trying my best to keep up with them and it’s a great feeling because I’m learning a lot. My mind is expanding, and every inch of my body is excited and living in this beautiful moment. It’s been a personal rediscovery for me, too.”
“It has been an exhilarating experience, being reunited with theater friends and working with REP for the first time. We can’t wait to see what we have been preparing for the past months. It has been an out-of-the-box experience, and it feels like home at the same time,” shares Gian who plays Billy Bigelow, a swaggering and charismatic carnival barker. “There is simply nothing like live theater.”
A masterwork by the legendary theater-writing duo of Richard Rodgers (Music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (Book and Lyrics), CAROUSEL’s original 1945 production won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical, and was hailed by Time Magazine as the greatest musical of the 20th century. Its revivals picked up Tony, Olivier, and Drama Desk Awards, a testament to this R&H classic’s timeless and universal appeal.
CAROUSEL isn’t only a love story between Billy and Julie, it is also a moving tale that underlines the transcendent power of love and hope in changing the course of one’s destiny. It features some of musical theater classics like If I Loved You, June is Bustin’ Out All Over, and You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Toff de Venecia, who has a contemporary, self-aware, and socially conscious vision for REP’s comeback musical, has nothing but praises for the two leads and the rest of the ensemble who have all been dedicated in bringing the show to life in a way that feels right for today’s theatergoers.
“Gian and Karylle are both thinking actors. They keep me on my toes,” he exclaims. “We are discovering new things every day, and their viewpoints and commitment to their craft and the kind of story we want to tell bring a lot of gold and brilliance to the production.”
Now on its fifth decade of bringing acclaimed classics and original productions to Filipino theatergoers, REP has been consciously moving towards progressive, dynamic, and culturally relevant narratives—something that CAROUSEL is expected to concretize and kickstart.
The leads have also weighed in on this challenge and its impact on how they portray their characters. “You’re thinking it’s such a happy musical but if you dig deeper and read the lines, you’ll see that Julie is suffering so much. We are already in a mindset that what Julie is going through is something that’s happening in real life,” Karylle explains.
“Billy was such a troubled soul, but aren’t we all troubled souls at some point in our lives? But since we’re all different from each other, we also have different ways of coping with life’s challenges,” Gian emphasizes.
Theater stalwarts Loy Martinez, Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante, Noel Rayos, Mia Bolaños, Roxy Aldiosa, Red Nuestro, Cara Barredo, Steven Hotchkiss, Paula Paguio, Roby Malubay, Gia Gequinto, Julio Laforteza, Kyla Rivera-Soong, and Czar Decena round out the ensemble.
Catch REP’s CAROUSEL from November 26 to December 18 at the CCP Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez. Tickets will be available through the CCP Box Office and TicketWorld.