From stages to screens, from screens to stages—the crossover of actors from both forms of acting no longer surprises audiences nowadays.
In Broadway, for example, Hollywood’s finest such as Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper and Daniel Craig, among others, have been seen one too many times giving life to new and long-time favorite theater characters alike.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, however, the number of theater stalwarts led by Matthew Broderick, among others, breaking to Tinseltown is far lesser.
Such is the case as well for actors in the local scene.
Decades ago, actors were confined to what they have been molded to be—stars for movies and TV anthologies; or straight plays and musicals.
But with the advent of technology and, later, social media, actors have happily been breaking out of their molds and enjoying a stint or two on the other side of the fence.
Case in point: young theater actors JC Santos and Gab Pangilinan.
The 27-year-old Santos, who studied musical theater in Circle in a Square Theater School in New York, is one of the newer leading men on stage, having starred in Games People Play and Red Turnip Theater’s Constellations. Ateneo Blue Repertory alumna Pangilinan, meanwhile, was part of the strong ensemble of the long-running PETA Theatre production Rak of Aegis.
The two young stars are the latest talents to join the throng of theater actors and actresses debuting on screen. But what makes these two unique among their colleagues is that their “screen stints” are seen on computer and mobile screens.
Together with Jasmine Curtis Smith—who herself tried theater through the Sandbox Collective’s No Filter in 2015—and other theater comrades, the two star in the mobile webisode series Forever Sucks.
Did they have difficulty adjusting from theater acting for a camera, albeit for mobile devices and computers?
“Sa theater it’s acting with your body, and sa TV it’s acting with your face—actually sa mata lang. Malaking adjustment actually, even saying and delivering your lines kasi hindi usually pabato; tapos dito [for TV]kailangan halos sayo lang,” Santos told The Manila Times during D5’s (Digital 5’s) grand launch.
Despite the initial challenges, both Santos and Pangilinan are ecstatic with the current theater-to-screen trend.
“Masayang-masaya kami kasi nao-open na yung pintuan para sa mga theater people,” Santos exclaimed, noting that there is too much talent in theater that they pale in comparison with other theater actors and actresses.
“And the other way around also. It’s good that the two world can meld and everybody can just work together kasi it means more opportunities for everybody,” Pangilinan added.
One of the pilot shows on TV5’s digital media platform D5, Forever Sucks tells the story of Izabel, a 170-year-old vampire who kick starts her life as a call center agent in Manila. Each episode depicts Izabel’s struggles with a bunch of offbeat officemates-turned-friends, all while trying not to fall for cute team leader, Tony.
The webisode, since its pilot, has enjoyed a strong pull among netizens, tallying some 2 million views for its first season alone.
Asked why she thinks their show is such a hit among online users, Curtis-Smith, the show’s main star, said, “Ang dami na kasi talagang online na nanonood. I think people are downloading applications na talagang manonood ka ng mga iba’t ibang series or stream shows online. We are getting to the point na it’s time to turn things around, try different things and if they can do it abroad [like iflix and Netflix], we definitely can try it here also.”
Offering more of her thoughts, the actress added, “I guess it is because it’s fresh, it’s new and it is short so the attention span of people hindi nawawala. I guess, because five to 10 minutes yung episode namin so it’s fast, you can watch during lunch break, and it doesn’t take up your entire lunch break!”
Though they are enjoying a growing number of audiences now and wrapping up their first season with hints of a second one, Curtis-Smith admitted they too were iffy at first if the show would gain a following.
“We were nervous because it’s new, baka hindi siya kumapit, baka hindi siya masyadong masundan ng tao, but I guess there’s always a surprise in store and the fact that we have a following already has been the most satisfying feeling because we are fans of our own show,” the 22-year-old finally exclaimed.