‘Rak’ is back, alright! | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Aicelle Santos returns as Aileen the promodizer with a golden voice who dreams of making it big as YouTube sensation. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Peta


“Sayang na Sayang Talaga” is a 2002 Aegis anthem that has only lately become another hit for the iconic band. It has therefore earned a place in the Philippine Educational Theater Association’s “Rak of Aegis,” the musical that last year captivated packed houses night after night with its biting humor and powerful rendition of Aegis hits.

“We know where to put it, we will change [another] song,” director Maribel Legarda said. “‘Sayang na Sayang’ will get a slight change of context. We might add a song for the father and daughter, but we’re still kinda working on it.”

The father and daughter she refers to are Kiel and Aileen, who live in Villa Venezia, a community still inundated in floodwater months after they were struck by a storm.

Apart from that collective struggle, Aileen—who works as a mall promodizer—hopes that posting footage of her vocal solos online can pluck her from obscurity and put her on the road to fame and fortune.

More excitement

All the feelings in the script, written by award-winning playwright Liza Magtoto, are amplified through the innate power of the Aegis songs, among them karaoke favorites “Luha,” “Sinta” and “Basang-basa Sa Ulan,” as reimagined into bona fide musical moments by musical director Myke Salomon.

“Also, we will have a water fountain … depende ’pag tinopak ako,” Legarda quipped. If it does happen, that would add more excitement to Mio Infante’s set, which was applauded for utilizing real water for its simulation of Villa Venezia’s flooded streets.

These are only some of the changes mulled for the well-loved original musical, which is set to begin another run of 60 performances (“hopefully”) beginning June 19.

Renz Verano, the husky voice behind “Remember Me,” will be joining the cast for the first time as Kiel. It will be Verano’s debut role in theater so he’s nervous, said Legarda.

Sweet Plantado of The Company will play either Aileen’s mother Mercy or Kiel’s ex-girlfriend and now barangay chief Mary Jane. Lorenz Martinez will also be playing a major role.

Stella Cañete will be formally introduced as a member of the cast, although she was already in a few shows last year. Dulaang UP alumna Teetin Villanueva will be in the ensemble, joining a number of other new cast members.

Special portion

Aicelle Santos returns as Aileen the promodizer with a golden voice who dreams of making it big as YouTube sensation. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Peta
Aicelle Santos returns as Aileen the promodizer with a golden voice who dreams of making it big as YouTube sensation. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Peta

There was a portion last year where actors would perform mini-roles to surprise the audience, and Legarda now wants it to be a formal segment, just to keep audiences on the edge.

“There might be a special portion where we’ll have guest actors participate in a very small portion.” She has already invited film and television actors, “but we don’t know  yet who’s coming.”

“Every show dapat nag-iiba. That’s the dream,” she said. But, essentially, the play won’t change as much.

“I think the original cast, they love the show that they’re not jaded yet,” she said. “They’re very excited to perform… Even if they came as singers more than they were actors, over time, they have developed their acting and all that stuff, so naging triple threats na rin sila.”

“I’m not changing the story anymore… Natimpla na. Kain na muna tayo,” she said. With an unprecedented 135 shows last year, the play is at a point where
it already works.

Rough around the edges

While the overwhelming majority of reviews was positive, there were also negative ones. It was fine, she said, because she was working with the Japanese aesthetic of “wabi sabi,” where beauty is in the imperfections.

“It’s ugly with basura, but music and dance and sh*t happens in it, right? So it counters other ideas of the Broadway musical in the sense that while the Broadway musical is pretty, ito hindi, jologs sila… Peta did the best it could to tell a story about Filipinos and about our lives using the wonderful popular music of Aegis,” she said.

“I think somebody else would tell it in a different way, but I think we told it the way Peta tells its stories, with social commentary, a lot of humor, and rough around the edges. We are where we are.”

Those who miss the June rerun might actually have to wait years: The plan is to make the story “rest” until 2017, when Peta celebrates its 50th year.

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