O’Hara’s Homage to STAGESHOW stars
Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
Mario O’Hara was a creative force whose career spanned different fields as radio talent, to TV, film and theater. As writer he has been involved in some of the greatest Filipino films ever made “Tinimbang ka Ngunit Kulang”, “Insiang” both directed by Lino Brocka and “Condemned” by Jose Javier Reyes. Mario directed Nora Aunor in “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos” and most recently in TV5’s “Sa Ngalan Ng Ina.”
Tanghalang Pilipino will show O’Hara’s last written script for theater “STAGESHOW.” The prestigious production honoring the stars of yesteryears will open the 4th National Theater festival running from November 7-18, 2012. O’Hara passed away last June 26 at the age of 66.
The 4th National Theater festival also features prodcutions from around the Phil. such as Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation Inc. from the province of Bulacan, Bohol Antequera and Maribojoc Cultural Collectives in cooperation with Teatro Bol-Anon from the province of Bohol, cultural activist Carlos Celdran, Dulaang UP of the University of the Philippines, Gantimpala Theater Foundation, Integrated Performing Arts Guild of Mindanano State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, Mindanao State University Kabpapagariya Ensemble from General Santos City, Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), Sipat Lawin Ensemble, Tanghalang Ateneo of Ateneo de Manila University, Tanghalang Pilipino, The Xavier Stage of Cagayan de Oro and Trumpets Inc. There will also be special performances by Kanlaon Theater Guild of Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod, SPIT (Silly People’s Improv Theater) and ventriloquists Ony Carcamo and Wanlu.
Tanghalang Pilipino Artistic Director Nanding Josef shared the circumstances of how he got the script, “About 3 years ago, Mario gave me the script of STAGESHOW. I was surprised. Binigay niya sakin, sabi ko Ano to? He said ‘Basahin mo lang baka sakaling magawa’. But at that time we already had the line up for the CCP.”
This year was the perfect timing for in terms of theme. “I had it read by Chris Millado the director of STAGESHOW now and also our actor’s company. And Chris loved his comedy and found the play really touching. Pero hindi pa namin pwedeng isali. It was only last year that we decided to include it in our theater season na ang theme ay truth and consequence. Sabi ni Mario ‘bagay na bagay dahil naka base sa tunay na buhay itong mga characters’ na mapapanood niyo.”
A lot of the story is relatable even to performers of today, “So bigay na bigay sa ating craft pero di nakapaghanda sa future. Apektado ang love life ang pamilya etc. Mario captured that in this script. He said, ‘Gusto ko itong ma isulat bago ako mamatay.’ I never thought that he was sick at that time.”
He also enumerated the artists Mario and TP intended to honor with STAGESHOW, “Ito ay alay natin sa mga katulad ni Tito Dolphy, Pilita Corales, Tita Gloria Sevilla, Bayani Casimiro, Elizabeth Ramsey, Sylvia La Torre, Eddie San Jose, Lupito, Patsy, Pugo, Bentot, Tugak, Pugak, Apeng Daldal, Aruray, Eddie Mesa, Reycard Duet, Casmot, Balot at marami pang iba.”
Josef also could not help but express a little bit of his envy and frustration over the popularity of another musical also in the same venue, “Dito po sana may dumating pang iba. Hirap na hirap po kaming magbenta kahit na ang ticket namin ay ka piranggot kung ikukumpara sa ticket ng Phantom of the Opera. Maganda naman po talaga yung palabas. Pero masasabi niyo pagkatapos ng show tignan ko lang kung di sabihin na ang gagaling ng artistang Pilipino.”
Profiles provided by Tanghalang Pilipino:
In the mid 60’s versatile actress and singer Gloria Sevilla aka Queen of Visayan movies became a lead star in Clover Theater’s ‘Musical Extravaganza.’ It was produced by Don Jose Zara who was the original Master Showman. Other stars included Bobby Gonzales, Tommy Angeles, Coca Apajar, Yolanda Guevarra, Ric Manrique and Fred Panopio. Sevilla was also tapped to perform at the Manila Grand Opera House.
German Moreno born October 14, 1940
His parents are Jose Moreno and Aurora Molina. Graduating from the Balagtas Elementary School in Bulacan Moreno enrolled at various schools in Manila whie working to earn his keep. At 14, he was a janitor and errand boy to impresario Don Jose Zarah at the Clover Theater. There as telonero (crustain raiser), he experienced first hand the workings of the stage. He later became an assistant stage manager.
He later went on to pursue and acting career as a comedian of the bodabil stage and postwar movies. In the 1970’s he became the host of ‘GMA Supershow’ and the rest is history. He produced and hosted That’s Entertainment and currently Walang Tulugan Master Showman. Through the process he discovered many of the now popular stars in television and movie industry.
Pilita Corales born in Manila August 22, 1939
Pilita appeared in stageshows at the Manila Grand Opera House and sang profesionally in the Philippines and abroad. She has performed withinternationally known artists as the front act in the concerts of Sammy Davis Jr, in Las Vegas. She also fronted for the Beatles in at the Rizal Memorial stadium in 1966 and as a gues in live shows of Bob Hope, Pat Boone, Frank Sinatra and Julie Andrews.
Elizabeth Ramsey (50 years in showbiz)
Born in San Carlos City, Negros Oriental. At age 16 she started singing with a band travelling from town to town in feistas throughout the island of Negros. She sang wit a 26 piece band, earning P3 or P4 a night.
Moving to Manila in 1958 she was in apopular TV show Student Center, after which she was offered a slot the Manila Grand Opera House. After a short stint she moved to Don Jose Zarah’s Clover Theater. Ramsey spent a glorious 7 years at the Clover as Queen of Rock and Roll.
She performed free of charge to the National Press Club and for the US veterans Office later for US Soldiers in American bases here in the Philippines and wounded American Veterans. She performed in Vegas and acts like Sammy Davis Jr. and Harry Belafonte. She also performed for Filipino communities while abroad.
Bayani Casimiro born in San Pablo Laguna July 16, 1918 a comedian of the Sarswela and the Komedya
At age 7 he entered show business as a clown and a comedian earning 50 centavos for his act. He loved to dance particularly tapdancing and won in na competition in Teatro Zorilla. In 1936 he visited Hawaii as part of the performing troupe headed by Sarswela queen Atang Dela Rama. He later became a part of Lou Salvador’s Stageshows. As a tap dancer he became known as the “Fred Astaire of the Philippines.”
DOLPHY born in Tondo Manila, July 25, 1928
Dolphy started as a young bodabil dancer and singer at the Orient theater during the Japanese occupation. In bodabil he parlayed his natural talent for for comedy into one of the most successful acts in Phil showbusiness. He was known as ‘Golay’, the dancing partner of Bayani Casimiro.
He started performing on stage during the Japanese occupation. He was turning 17 when he got a job as adancer for a month at the Avenue Theater and subsequently on Lyric Theater. He also appeared at the Prient Theater. During air raids, they would interrupt the show and run for the air raid shelter in the orchestra section together with the audience. If no bomb exploded the show resumed.
Mario O’Hara April 20, 1946-June 26, 2012
Mario was born in Zamboanga City on April 20, 1946, His mother was Basilia Herrero who has Spanish lineage and hails from Ozamis Oriental. His father Jaime O’Hara was the son of Irish American Thomasite. Jaime himself was a member of the U.P. Dramatic Club.
The O’Hara’s moved to a middle class community in Pasay City; behind their house was a slum area and Mario claimed that some of his works were inspired by the real life incidents that happened in this area.
At age 17 he auditioned for a radio show sponsored by Procter and Gamble. He then decided to stop attending his classes as a Chemical Engineering student in Adamson University to concentrate on radio. He was able to get a job with the Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC) and DZRH.
Later on he joined PETA as a stage actor and worked with Lino Brocka as a writer.He wrote Brocka’s Tinimbang Ka Ngunit kulang about life in a small town. He also wrote a teleplay which became the basis for Brocka’s Insiang which is about a woman raped by her stepfather. He claimed it was inspired by a real story, which happened in the slums behind their backyard. Soon, Mario became known as a writer for his sense of realism and social messages.