‘Dirty Old Musical’ gathers John Arcilla, Nonie Buencamino, Robert Seña, Michael Williams and Ricky Davao for theater’s latest ‘juke box’ piece
If you can get Heneral Luna, Elias, The Engineer, Javert, and Tony Javier on one stage—singing and boogieing down to OPM hits of the late ‘70s through the ‘80s—you’ve certainly got a hit musical in your hands.
Such is the unanimous prediction of both the local theater and showbiz scenes over mere snippets shown by John Arcilla, Nonie Buencamino, Robert Seña, Michael Williams and Ricky Davao from their upcoming stage production, D.O.M.—which by the way only stands for “Dirty Old Musical.”
These five consummate actors who have all made their mark on stage, cinema and television are best known for their respective roles as Heneral Luna in the blockbuster biopic; Elias in the staging of Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere; one of the engineers in the West End’s Miss Saigon; Javert in Repertory Philippines’ own production of Les Miserables; and Tony Javier in both the play and musical outings of Ang Larawan [based on Nick Joaquin’s “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino”].
“You’ve got a dream team!” The Manila Times enthused at Tuesday night’s first peek into a scene from D.O.M., held quite fittingly at dark and dinky music bar in Quezon City.
“Well, we do have Heneral Luna,” Robert Seña humbly replied, “and Nonie over here, plus Direk Ricky over there—the oldest among us,” whispering that last part. “So I guess you can call it a ‘dream team,’ the best part [of which]is how we’re really a group of friends in the first place making all this more fun.”
While all five have never had the opportunity to work together in any production, they have all shared the stage or the camera with each other at one time or another.
“It’s also a dream come true for us if I can put it that way,” Seña, whose wife and fellow theater stalwart Isay Alvarez is part of the production company behind D.O.M., namely Spotlight Artist Center.
Sharing with The Manila Times how the novel idea for D.O.M. came to be, Seña revealed that the concept started out as a “juke box” musical about five former boy band mates intended for CCP’s Virgin Labfest.
“The idea was to use all kundiman songs for this short musical, which I thought just didn’t fit in with a reunion of a one-time boy band. That’s when we thought about turning to classic OPM hits from the late ‘70s through the ‘80s—the songs of VST & Company, Apo Hiking Society, and even one or two songs from [the iconic ‘80s movie]Bagets—to pull off a really enjoyable production.”
What then is D.O.M. all about? According to the production notes, the premise is this: Despite having been touted as the stronger sex, most guys continue to grapple with their own share of concerns, however real or imagined, especially with the onset of years.
Playfully naughty and irreverent, the musical takes a peek into the personal struggles of five men dealing with middle age crisis and all its telltale signs.
“Think Full Monty without the skin. Think Vagina Monologues, but with more balls,” the production notes continued.
D.O.M. revolves around The Bench Boys, an all-male ‘80s group that disbanded due to personal issues. After several decades, the long-lost comrades consider the prospect of a musical reunion as their last-ditch effort to raise funds for an ailing member.
The question is, “Do they still have the magic and charisma from their long-forgotten youth?”
Work and play
Touted as Spotlight Artists’ first original Filipino musical, D.O.M is based on a libretto written by Rody Vera, under the direction of Dexter Martinez, with Myke Salomon as musical director.
The musical soundtrack promises to be a nostalgic romp down memory lane with iconic OPM hits as “Kastilyong Buhangin,” “Mag Exercise Tayo Tuwing Umaga,” “Nais Ko,” “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika,” “Babae,” “Legs,” “Ang Himig Natin,” “Sana,” “Pag Tumatagal Lalong Tumitibay,” “Pasumpa-sumpa Ka Pa,” “Kung Liligaya Ka,” “Ayoko na Sa’yo,” “Balatkayo,” and “Farewell.”
“What’s really great about the whole idea is that lahat nung mga kantang pinili namin, pasok talaga yung lyrics sa pinag-dadaanan nung banda,” Seña excitedly related.
He quickly pointed out that while the tunes might be familiar to all five of them—as well as the support cast comprised of Miss Saigon alumnus Ima Castro, TV comedienne Kitkat and young thespian Fred Lo—they all have to work hard in getting the music right for the story.
“I keep saying we’re all having fun, but beyond the fun, we have a full script to memorize as well, and most importantly, we each have to learn our part in the harmony for every song,” Seña explained. “I’m a singer already but I’m finding that hard to do.”
Still due for a September 1 playdate, another hurdle the cast and production team have to contend with are drawing out rehearsal schedules. Each one of them, from Arcilla to Davao, have on going projects alongside D.O.M.
“Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I direct [the upcoming GMA Network teleserye]Sinungaling Mong Puso, and sometimes we pack up at 6 a.m.,” Davao told The Manila Times. “But I never pass up an opportunity to go back to theater, especially one like this, where I get to share the stage with these guys.”
Rounding up the cast with the question just how naughty D.O.M. will be, their lady boss Isay Alvarez stepped in and said, “The only thing they’ll be baring is sheer talent! But it will definitely talk about issues of the geriatric kind—sicknesses, waning sex life, erectile dysfunction, relationships, and the like,” she ended, savoring the moment of ribbing her dream team.
Dirty Old Musical opens on September 1 at the Music Museum and will have eight shows, with strong prospects for a rerun before the end of the year. For inquiries call Spotlight Artists Centre (776-4487); Ticket World (891-9999); and Music Museum (721-0635).