MANILA, Philippines — Aicelle Santos, who just finished a year-long stint as Gigi in the United Kingdom-Ireland touring production of “Miss Saigon,” won the Outstanding Female Lead Performance in a Musical award at the 11th Philstage Gawad Buhay, held earlier on Tuesday at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1, Makati City, for her work in “Himala, Isang Musikal.”
Santos played the purported visionary Elsa, the role famously essayed by film star Nora Aunor, in Ricky Lee and Vincent de Jesus’ musical stage adaptation of the 1982 Ishmael Bernal classic.
Santos’ co-star, stage veteran and fellow pop singer Bituin Escalante, took home Outstanding Female Featured Performance in a Musical — the same award that Santos won last year for her role in another screen-to-stage adaptation, Gantimpala Theater Foundation and Grand Leisure Corp.’s “Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, The Musical.”
Santos is only the seventh actor to win back-to-back trophies at the Gawad Buhay, joining the ranks of Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino, Audie Gemora, Teroy Guzman, Cris Villonco, Jef Flores and Rody Vera.
“Himala,” a co-production between sister companies 9 Works Theatrical (9WT) and The Sandbox Collective (SC), was the night’s big winner, picking up six other awards, including Outstanding Production of Existing Material for a Musical, Ensemble Performance for a Musical, and two trophies for Ed Lacson, Jr., for his stage direction and set design. The production will have a rerun in September at Power Mac Spotlight, The Circuit, Makati City.
The other hit production last year of 9 Works, the APO Hiking Society jukebox musical “Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!,” co-produced with Globe Live, scooped five awards, including Outstanding Musical-Original or Translation/Adaptation and Male Lead Performance in a Musical for radio DJ Jobim Javier, the son of APO pioneer Danny Javier, in his musical theater debut.
Resorts World Manila and Full House Theater Company’s (FHTC) Eraserheads musical “Ang Huling El Bimbo,” which led the field of nominations with 12 nods alongside “Himala,” won for Myke Salomon’s musical direction and Dexter Santos’ choreography.
Among the nonmusical productions, Red Turnip Theater’s (RTT) “A Doll’s House, Part 2”” bagged four trophies, including Outstanding Production of Existing Material for a Play, Male Lead Performance in a Play for film director Carlitos Siguion-Reyna (in his acting debut) and Stage Direction for a Play for Villonco’s directorial debut-marking her sixth Gawad Buhay, after five wins for acting.
Philippine Educational Theater Association’s (Peta) “’Night, Mother” won Outstanding Play-Original or Translation/Adaptation, Female Lead Performance in a Play for Sherry Lara, and Outstanding Translation or Adaptation for Ian Lomongo’s Filipino rendering of the eponymous Marsha Norman play.
Now on its 11th year, the Gawad Buhay also conferred lifetime achievement awards-the Natatanging Gawad Buhay-to dance icon Felicitas Radaic and Peta pioneer Lutgardo Labad.
The 23 competitive awards considered only the premiere runs of 2018 productions by member companies, and excluded reruns. No awards were given for Outstanding Production for Children, Original Script, Original Musical Composition, and Male Featured Performance in a Play.
The awards for dance and ballet productions have been discontinued.
The ceremonies were hosted by Carlo Orosa and Kakai Bautista, who will next be seen in the sixth rerun of the megahit “Rak of Aegis” beginning July 5.
COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS
Outstanding Original Book: Robbie Guevara, “Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!” (9WT)
Outstanding Translation or Adaptation: Ian Lomongo, “’Night, Mother” (Peta)
Outstanding Musical Direction: Myke Salomon, “Ang Huling El Bimbo” (FHTC)
Oustanding Choreography: Dexter Santos, “Ang Huling El Bimbo” (FHTC)
Outstanding Costume Design: Carlo Pagunaling, “Himala, Isang Musikal” (9WT/SC)
Outstanding Lighting Design: Barbie Tan-Tiongco, “Himala, Isang Musikal” (9WT/SC)