Menchu Launchengco-Yulo as ‘Annie’s’ Ms. Hannigan
IT takes a brilliant actress to be nice to kids offstage and terrifying when on it, and for the role of the miserable Ms. Hannigan in Resorts World Manila’s (RWM) upcoming family musical Annie, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo is definitely the perfect fit.
Also serving as co-artistic director for RWM’s Full House Theater Company and president of new thespian foundation Original Pilipino Performing Arts, the award-winning actress, together with director Michael Williams, is currently enjoying the company of the musical’s kids cast during rehearsals, teaching them such technical elements as projection, performance energy, and going for the truth.
“Michael and I took the kids through a workshop the whole of May,” she shared. “We focused on both Annie and the orphans. Some have experience but a lot don’t and we needed to work on the children one on one to get them ready,” she added.
While admitting that she’s growing fonder of the adorable kids everyday, Menchu stays focused on teaching the young ones theater 101. “I keep telling them they have to stop hugging me because they have to hate me but it doesn’t work,” she said jokingly. “I have fallen in love with each and every one of those girls so it will entail a lot of acting on my part”.
And a lot of acting is one thing Menchu is not short of. Among her notable works onstage include The Lion, The Witch and the Wardbrobe, God of Carnage, Proof, Nine, Sweeney Todd (which won her a Gawad Buhay Best Actress award) and Bituing Walang Ningning: The Musical (which won her the ALIW award for Best Actress in a Featured Role).
For her upcoming role as Ms. Hannigan, Menchu needed to dig deeper into the character in order to create multiple dimensions of the same for audiences. “I always work inside out. I create a history of my character. Each character I play, particularly a “villain”, must stem from a reason or action. If I don’t justify why she behaves a certain way then my character will be one dimensional,” she revealed.
When asked what she discovered about Ms. Hannigan during her character study, she shares a sad truth that quite many adults would be able to relate to. “I think there are a lot of Miss Hannigans out there. You start out idealistic about life, then in the blink of an eye, you are old and life has passed you by,” she shared.
Though very much adaptable to challenging roles, the First Lady of Philippine Musical Theater is all set and ready to play Ms. Agatha Hannigan when Annie opens on September 30 at RWM’s Newport Performing Arts Theater. “Hannigan is a drunkard and she is always intimidated. I think she drinks to escape her problems,” she said of her role. “I will need to portray her intoxicated, but I will not make it too over the top. More like she is coping with being drunk,” she added.
In real life however, Menchu is definitely no Ms. Hannigan as her own children Nicole and Luis were growing up. “Oh gosh…No! I wasn’t the disciplinarian at all. I always gave in to them but within reason,” she concluded.
Tickets for ANNIE are now available at the RWM Box Office and all TicketWorld outlets. Visit rwmanila.com/web/annie-the-musical/ for more information.