Back in the late 1970s in New York, there was this Tony Award-winning composer, Marvin Hamlisch, and a Grammy Award-winning songwriter, Carole Bayer Sager, who met, fell in love, and had an eventful and turbulent affair.
Eventually they parted. Sager went on to marry Burt Bacharach, and later Hamlisch passed on to the heaven reserved for composers. But they left behind a fictionalized record of their relationship: the enduring musical comedy “They’re Playing Our Song,” with book by Neil Simon, no less.
“They’re Playing Our Song” has been performed in Manila before, with Lea Salonga in the lead role. And it will be staged again, this time with Nikki Gil and Lorenz Martinez as the loving, battling couple, backed by a male and female ensemble.
This was announced at a recent press conference by 9Works Theatrical (www.9workstheatrical.com) at The Peninsula Manila. The play runs Feb. 8 to March 3 at the Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, in Makati City.
“We needed a powerful love story for Valentine,” said Toff de Venecia of 9Works Theatrical. Gil and Martinez, along with the ensemble, performed lively song-and-dance numbers during the press con, with Joseph Tolentino playing the piano.
The musical was first produced in 1981, “and it has withstood the test of time,” said director Robbie Guevera. “It’s one of the great musicals and it will still hold its ground many years from now.”
He added, “We followed the way it is written but in terms of staging, it is by today’s standards. After all, there were no cell phones then, and the actors are clad in 1981 clothes. The musical arrangement will have a modern feel. It’s the way you attack the music, reassigning some notes to another instrument. But it’s still simple. I didn’t want to make it too complicated. The staging is modern but loyal to the time.”
Gil considers the play “a two-hour conversation plus music. It’s challenging. Fifty percent mine, and 50 percent Lorenz.”
She observed: “It’s the journey of a couple, it’s so real. We can relate to this, like Billy (Crawford, her real-life boyfriend) and I have had this conversation, this argument before.”