After three years of taking on multiple theater roles in Hong Kong Disneyland’s daily stage presentations, former GMA Network talent Gian Magdangal is back in the country to lead an all-Filipino cast in staging the classic English musical “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” at Resorts World Manila.
Magdangal looks back at his Hong Kong stint with much gratitude for he was thoroughly able to sharpen his singing, dancing and acting skills in such shows as “The Golden Mickeys” and “Mickey and the Wondrous Book” since joining the themepark’s cast in 2014.
“As you know Hong Kong Disneyland is open 365 days a year so you can imagine how many shows actors like me have done there,” he shared at Chitty Bang’s press launch in Resorts World Manila. “From Hong Kong, though, I went to do shows at Osaka’s Universal Studios before I got this project.”
Magdangal added, “Being in ‘Kaos,’ the first-ever musical in Resorts World Manila (RWM) mounted at the Newport Performing Arts Theater (NPAT), I feel very thankful to be able to come back here. I also feel so lucky to be able to have something to do again back home.”
Now 35-years-old, the former “Philippine Idol” contestant, takes on the role of eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts for Chitty Bang.
Meanwhile, two-time Aliw Awards Best Actress in a Musical nominee Yanah Laurel, will play Potts’ love interest Truly Scrumptious. A theater actress since age nine, Laurel shared the English musical has always been one of her favorites.
“I was very excited when I got the part because I’m really a fan of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang—it was a big part of my childhood. I think it will appeal to Filipino audiences because it’s a spectacle of a show. The music is beautiful, and for those who are unfamiliar, it’s going to be an exciting treat for them because every single number is a production number,” she said.
The role of Jeremy Potts has been given to 12-year old Noel Comia, a two-time Aliw Awardee for Best Child Performer and this year’s Cinemalaya Best Lead Actor for his role in the movie “Kiko Boksingero.” He alternates with 11-year-old Albert Silos from RMW’s “The King And I” and “Cinderella,” and 2015 Metro Manila Film Festival New Wave Category Best Supporting Actor for his role in the independent movie “Turo-Turo.”
Isabeli Araneta-Elizalde returns to the stage as Jemina Potts after her breakthrough performance in “Annie,” which won her the Discovery of the Year award in 2016’s Aliw Awards. Alternating with Elizalde is Zoey Alvarade who has also performed in numerous stage productions including “It’s A Giant World,” “Jewel of Antilles: Two Worlds,” “One Island,” “Wizard of Oz,” “Greased Lightning,” and “Seussical Jr.”
Rounding up the Chitty Bang cast are Mako Alonso as Boris, Reb Atadero as Goran, James Paolleli as Grandpa Potts, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as the Baroness, Raymund Concepcion as Baron Bomburst, Michael Williams as the Toymaker and Lorenz Martinez as the Childcatcher.
“When we learned that we’re doing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we got together and we knew who we wanted. It was just a matter of availabilities. Luckily, everybody was available so we now have our dream cast. We are also very happy because Gian ended his shows in Japan. We contacted him immediately because we didn’t see anybody else doing the role,” assistant director Lauchengco-Yulo said.
Meanwhile, musical director Jaime del Mundo pointed out that bringing the said British family musical to the Filipino audience is a no-brainer because Filipinos love stories about family relationship.
Thirty-four years after its movie version was released in 1968, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was first staged at the London Palladium in 2002, becoming its longest running show ever with a three-and-a-half-year run. A UK tour then ran from 2005 until 2008.
Prior to this Manila production, the musical had been staged on New York’s Broadway; Capitol Theater in Sydney; State Theater in Munich; and Singapore’s Esplanade, among others.
The Manila production will begin on October 27 at RWM’s NPAT with the music of the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Rodel Colmenar.