Shining Stars in Bituing Walang Ningning
Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
Stars literally shone on stage, the background appeared like the night sky with bright twinkling specs. The image rivaled any night sky in the remotest regions of the world. An audible gasp was collectively heard from the audience even before Monica Cuenco sang a note. The largest LED screen in Asia has awed everyone from other RWM shows like KING & I and PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT. Due to insistent public demand BITUING WALANG NINGNING (BWN) at Resort’s World Manila will have another run from October 8, 2015 through to January of 2016.
By the time curtains rose for BITUING… they managed to make the biggest become even wider and bigger. Even the peripheral areas of the stage on the sides and top are covered in LED panels. From the audience seats you’re almost enveloped by a twinkling and convincing night sky with deep dark purples transitioning from black with varied specks of white and yellow. It’s a wonderful visual metaphor for a star rising in the music and entertainment business as Monica Cuenco sings Filipino classics composed by Willy Cruz.
LED Video Producer Carlos Manere by now is a veteran of RWM hits KING & I and PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT. A graduate of the Multimedia Arts program from the College of St Benilde, Manere incorporated different skills from visual effects, 3D animation, 3D modeling, compositing and video editing. He has also done LED work for Star Cruises STONE OF ATLANTIS, NOLI ME TANGERE: THE OPERA and many more.
Apart from setting the mood and establishing locations, which are all important functions for the screen, it adds another purpose that I did not see before in previous productions. This time the LED screen is actually used to push the story forward. This was when newspaper headlines were splashed on screen, especially on the fringes. Sometimes videos of backstage conversations are included. From the literal stars on the night sky we should move on to the stars in the cast:
Monica Cuenco has captured the innocence and humble roots of her role Dorina Pineda. In some ways Monica’s anonymity enhances her believability. We all know Sharon Cuneta as the daughter of the Pasay Mayor Pablo Cuneta and her showbiz lineage with mother Elaine Gamboa. For anyone taking on such an iconic role that has had a long memory and mass appeal is a tall order. But Cuenco has done quite well and has even proven her superior vocal abilities. Nothing is left to chance, Philpop Grand Prize winner Yumi Lacsamana has been tapped as voice coach for Monica.
Menchu Lauchengco Yulo plays Eeeeeedith the big haired, overbearing, loud, annoying, gossip columnist. Menchu admitted that yes ‘I annoy even myself’. Menchu is also RWM’s Creative director and is a long time acting coach. She said, “Monica is more confident she’s more grounded. She’s more secure with herself so it will be a better Dorina overall.”
Cris Villonco is in the role of antagonist Lavinia Arguelles. In real life she’s supportive of her co-star, “Monica is such a hard worker; she strives to work even harder every single time. She improves every single time. Come on she’s only twenty! So I think her star is on the rise. She gets better as the show progresses as well.”
Epy has just come from the critically acclaimed film and now the surprise box office hit HENERAL LUNA. Epi played the intellectual Apolinario Mabini known as the ‘Sublime Paralytic’. His casting in the gay role Auntie for BWN has a lot of fans and critics excited. He alternates this role with the great comedian and singer Jon Santos. While Epi has had more film and TV roles, not a lot of people are aware that he also has impressive theater and musical experience. Epi actually played Ompong a role based on his father Dolphy’s original character in the prewar era. KATY was written and directed by Nestor U. Torre who is also a columnist for Phil Daily Inquirer.
Michael Stuart Williams is in the role of sleazy record producer Larry in BWN. Williams is also co Creative Director for RWM. He said, “Epi is doing the role of Auntie at some performances – the role was originally played by Jon Santos. He is a very good actor, very hard working. He is a pleasure to work with.”
Everybody who has seen her on stage and onscreen can’t help but love Cris Villonco. Her numerous theater roles has led her to found RED TURNIP with pals Topper Fabregas and Bart Guingona. On screen she was cast in her family’s semi-biography HARI NG TONDO. The Cinemalaya film was directed by Carlitos Siguion Reyna and was loosely based on their patriarch’s return to his old district of Tondo.
Cris’ as Lavinia for BWN gives her a meatier role made famous by Cherie Gil. She relishes playing the scheming, woman everyone loves to hate, “I love it people always think I’m a goody two shoes. I’m the nice person. I’m really not. My brain goes on and on, I have a lot of thoughts in my head I can’t really say. You have to have a certain kind of persona in public. I’m a meanie so it’s nice to let it out once in a while. Once in a while lang.”
Antoinette Tauz alternates Lavinia with Cris, she goes on, “It’s nice because I was basically in the same batch as Antoinette when I was starting out in show business. We know what its like, we know the competition. I’m pretty sure she’s gonna do well.”
Menchu describes Antoinette, “Tonette is very different her attack is different. She plays her a little bit more desperate, which works because there’s this idea that there’s someone better than her. It’s a natural reaction. Its very different, I have yet to see a full run (with changes). We’ve done scenes so I haven’t seen the totality. But that’s what comes across and wow that works. Then you really see the reason of being so nasty. She’s losing it.”
One of Mark Bautista’s most prominent stage roles is portraying Ferdinand Marcos in the West End production of David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s HERE LIES LOVE. Even before that he was already one of the admired young vocalists of the country. Mark’s role here is very easy for him to portray being a singer songwriter himself. Nico Escobar is the top hit maker with the biggest star, Lavinia in love with him. Nico meets Dorina and discovers a hidden gem. Bautista shows that he has honed his acting skills to accompany his renowned vocals. He is in need of it as he shares the scenes with Villonco who can easily dominate the stage with her performance.
fb fan page:
fb fan page:
fb fan page:
This entry was posted on October 6, 2015 by jude bautista. It was filed under Film, Music, People, Theater, TV and was tagged with 3D animation, 3D modeling, acting coach, annoying, anonymity, antagonist, Antoinette Tauz, Apolinario Mabini, Asia, background, Bart Guingona, believability, big haired, BITUING WALANG NINGNING, BWN, Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, Carlos Manere, Cherie Gil, Cinemalaya, College of St Benilde, compositing, Creative director, Cris Villonco, David Byrne, Dolphy, Dorina Pineda, Elaine Gamboa, Epi, Epi Quizon, Fatboy Slim, Ferdinand Marcos, Filipino classics, Golay, gossip columnist, graduate, HARI NG TONDO, HENERAL LUNA, HERE LIES LOVE, hit maker, humble roots, iconic role, innocence, insistent public demand, Jon Santos, KING & I, largest LED screen, Lavinia, Lavinia Arguelles, LED panels, LED Video Producer, LED work, loud, Mario O’Hara, Mark Bautista, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Michael Stuart Williams, Monica Cuenco, Multimedia Arts, Nico Escobar, night sky, NOLI ME TANGERE: THE OPERA, overbearing, Pablo Cuneta, Pasay Mayor, peripheral areas, PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, RED TURNIP, Resorts World Manila, RWM, Sharon Cuneta, showbiz lineage, singer songwriter, stageshow, Star Cruises, Stars, STONE OF ATLANTIS, Sublime Paralytic, Tanghalang Pilipino, Tondo, Topper Fabregas, twinkling specs, video editing, visual effects, visual metaphor, vocal abilities, West End, Willy Cruz.