Saturday, April 14, 2018

Director Joel Lamangan & Producer Rebecca Chuaunsu Optimistic That Theater Loves Will Enjoy Their Original Musical, 'Binondo: A Tsinoy Musical'

 
STAGE, TV & FILM director Joel Lamangan has just finished a new movie, “Because I Love You”, launching newcomers David Licauco and Shaira Mae de la Cruz, but before this is even shown, he’s now directing a new musical for Solaire Theatre, “Binondo: A Tsinoy Musical”, which is based on the true story of a Pinay singer who used to be a regular in Luisa & Son that was very popular in the 70s along Rizal Avenue.

She fell in love with a Chinese scholar from the mainland who’s studying in the U.S. and they have a whirlwind love affair. The guy leaves back for Beijing and marries another girl in a marriage arranged by his traditional parents, without knowing that the Pinay singer is already pregnant.

“The story is actually from Rebecca Chuaunsu, who’s producing the musical,” says Joel. “She was my theatre student in PETA in 1976 when she was still Rebecca Shangkuan. Then I directed her in ‘Mano Po 3’ with Vilma Santos.”

He calls Rebecca so we can interview her during the presscon of “Binondo” at Oriental Palace. We’ve met Rebecca before at the presscon of Regal’s “Mano Po 7” where she played the mother of Eric Quizon and Richard Yap. She says she has always loved theatre and films with a great passion, but she has to put it in the back burner because her parents don’t like her to be in showbiz.

“I have my masters in speech and theater and my doctorate in communications, both from UP,” she says. “But every now and then, naisisingit ko ang acting. The last play I did is ‘Joy Luck Club’ where I was the mother of Ana Abad Santos. I also did the movie ‘Hinabing Pakpak ng Ating mga Anak’ with Agot Isidro for Direk Anton Juan. Now, I’m so glad to produce ‘Binondo’ which is about the Chinese in the Philippines. The story happened to a relative of mine and I kept it in my heart for more than 40 years. The characters are still alive and now live in Mainland China. I enjoy working with Direk Joel as he’s my mentor, so I’m very comfortable with him. I had a series of meetings with Ricky Lee, who wrote the full play with his two co-writers, then we had several auditions to find the right actors. More than 100 auditioned and we got some 30 people to be part of the main cast and the chorus. The songs written by Von de Guzman are all good and we’re so happy with the whole production . I think theatre lovers will love and appreciate it when it opens on June 29.”

In the corporate world, Rebecca is the finance supervisor of Golden Kylin and she heads her own film production company that supplies Chinese, Japanese and Korean talents to TV and movie companies. She’s also active in the music ministry of the Capitol City Baptish Church. She has three kids. The eldest is Jeremy who works with Ayalaland and she has twin daughters, Jewel, who is a magazine editor, and Jenny, who is a movie scriptwriter and works with her BF Director Prime Cruz in acclaimed films like “Manananggal in the City” and “Sleepless”.

At the press presentation, the cast performed some of the songs from “Binondo” and we’re impressed as they’re all quite good and catchy, starting with the rousing opening song “Magandang Gabi” led by Jim Pebanco who acts as the master of ceremonies, the touiching song of Lily rendered by Carla Laforteza and Shiela Martinez who alternate in the role, the vocally challenging song of Ah Tiong by Armand Ferrer and Daviz Ezra (the son of Dulce and Danny Cruz who’s quite impressive), and “Sino Ba Ako: Ako ay Pilipino” by Floyd Tena and Noel Rayos who alternate as Carlos. The poignant Chinese song, “The Moon Represents My Heart”, was also excellently rendered by Dondong Ong, Rhapsody and Elizabeth Chua. All in all, “Binondo” certainly looks like the big must-see theatre event of the season.

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