Songs of the ’70s still pervade the airwaves—from sentimental ballads to disco. Until now, the likes of “Ipagpatawad Mo,” “Ikaw Ang Aking Mahal,” “Rock Baby Rock,” “Disco Fever” and “Awitin Mo At Isasayaw Ko” remain to be favorites on the dance floor, production numbers on TV, and even sing-along sessions.
The group responsible for these monster hits—whose members included Vic Sotto, Tito Sotto and Joey De Leon of the country’s longest-running variety show, Eat Bulaga—VST & Co., has indeed transcended the Martial Law era all the way to the millennial generation.
All these in mind, award-winning writer Bibeth Orteza created a libretto fusing VST & Co. music with the artistry of Ballet Philippines (BP) and the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Gerard Salonga, along with thespians and talents from mainstream entertainment. The result, the much-awaited Awitin Mo At Isasayaw Ko, staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Theater from December 2 to 11.
Orteza said at the production’s press launch on November 23 that she was physically present at the recording of the VST & Co. songs. She was also active in rallies against Martial Law during that time, and was at the Holiday Inn with then boyfriend Ric Segreto when the CCP was inaugurated. As such, her appreciation for the decade when the album was born can be considered extensive.
Her libretto, Awitin Mo At Isasayaw Ko tells the story of forbidden love between Teresa, a kolehiyala, and Victor, a construction worker amid the backdrop of 1970s Philippines, a time burning with disco fever but chilled by the horrors of Martial Law.
Former BP principals Edna Vida—who returns to the stage for the very first time since retiring in 1989—and Nonoy Froilan play the elderly Teresa and Victor. Alternating with the pair are ballroom dance champion Ednah Ledesma and former BP principal dancer Butch Esperanza. Current BP dancers Denise Parungao, Rita Angela Winder Garry Corpuz and Jean Marc Cordero will alternate as the young Teresa and Victor.
Vida said that she and her husband could not say no to Orteza who offered them the roles over their long time friendship and association. She is best remembered as the Firebird, Carmen and Myrtha in Giselle.
Froilan, on the other hand, was the country’s premier danseur for three decades. He essayed leading roles in classical and contemporary ballets partnering with international prima ballerinas such as Dame Margot Fonteyn and Yoko Morishita. He explored acting as well and was last seen on TV in Be My Lady as Lolo Apo.
Breathing life into the songs of VST & Co. are popular mainstream and independent singers.
Alternating as a strong-willed “woman of the night” Ester are pop-rock icon Cooky Chua and Showtime host Karylle Tatlonghari, who earned a Best Actress nomination in the 52nd Monte Carlo TV Festival for her performance in the international Asian TV series The Kitchen Musical. Karylle’s theater credits include West Side Story, Rama Hari, and Cinderella.
Michael Pangilinan plays the role of lead vocalist Arturo, the charismatic best friend of Victor. Pangilinan first caught the country’s attention as a contestant in X Factor Philippines in 2011, and has since become a regular on television. Theater and independent film actor Sandino Martin is his alternate.
Singer, host and over all multi-slashie Markki Stroem plays the role of Gabby, the moneyed and handsome suitor of Teresa. Stroem played the role of Henry in the award-winning musical Next To Normal by Atlantis Productions and was most recently seen in Jersey Boys. Theater actor Jef Flores is Stroem’s alternate.
Kyle Echarri is Lito, the energetic younger brother of Victor. Echarri was a finalist in The Voice Kids under Team Sarah. The Voice Kids Season 3 alumni Noel Comia Jr. alternates.
Finally, the vocal ensemble is comprised of members of the classical singing group, Viva Voce.
To bring the rest of the show to life, BP artistic director Paul Alexander Morales is on board as the show’s director; Carissa Adea, James Laforteza and PJ Rebullida as choreographers; Jed Balsamo as musical director; with sound design by Jethro Joaquin, set design by Ohm David, costume design by James Reyes, and lighting design by John Batalla.
Tickets to ‘Awitin Mo At Isasayaw Ko’ are available at Ticketworld (891-9999), CCP Box Office (832-3704) and Ballet Philippines (551-1003).