Cherie Gil at the press conference for her upcoming play. Photo by Karen Flores for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA -- Veteran actress Cherie Gil takes on the role of a fashion icon in a one-woman play which will be staged next month.
Gil is the star of My Own Mann Productions' "Full Gallop," a play that focuses on noted fashion columnist and editor Diana Vreeland of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar magazines.
The play is set in New York in 1971, when Vreeland was just fired from Vogue and is figuring out what to do with her life.
In a press conference for "Full Gallop" on Tuesday, Gil recalled being offered to do the play by director Bart Guingona.
"On my birthday, Bart came and I think he just dumped it on my lap and he said, 'Here is the script.' And though I browsed through the script I really didn't delve into it yet… Then I thought to myself, she (Vreeland) is the woman that I wanted to become, even just for a few nights," she said. "Everything fell into place quite effortlessly."
Noting how she sees herself in Vreeland, Gil said: "I find that we have a lot in common. First of all, she's crazy. She has a lot of things going on at the same time, may pagka-bipolar. And at the same time, she sees the world in a different light. She is more than just fashion and outfits. She can never remember names. She loves the tango and I love the tango. She's a wonderful mother and I'd like to think I'm a wonderful mother. She stays on track and she loves what she does. Nothing stops her from wanting to keep on going."
Gil, who has been studying Vreeland's character for the past six months, admitted that it is quite a challenge to portray the fashion icon's vivacious and larger-than-life character.
"I'm still preparing. I'm not quite there yet… Nobody speaks like Diana. And what also made her iconic is her vernacular, the way she spoke: marvelous, divine, ghastly and all those kinds of kabaklaan. I would love to say all that. My gay friends would love it as well," she said.
"But beyond the fashion, the glamour and maybe even the superficiality of it… I want to emanate the human side of her with the help of Bart (Guingona). It's actually quite poignant. It all starts with who she is, but then, she is one of those iconic women symbolizing those strong forces of nature. And I'm only given a few nights to put my heart and soul for that past six months that I have been doing," she added.
"Full Gallop" will open a the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium at the RCBC Plaza in Makati City with a gala night on March 14. Regular performances will be on March 15 and 21 at 8 p.m., and March 16 and 23 at 4 p.m.
Homage to fashion, beauty industry
While it is a one-woman play, "Full Gallop" will have the special participation of actress G Tongi and will feature the creations of top designers Rajo Laurel (costume), Joey Mendoza (set) and John Batalla (lighting). Ruben Nazareth, meanwhile, will be in charge of Gil's hair and makeup during the play's short run.
According to Gil, "Full Gallop" serves as an homage not only to Vreeland, but also to all the fashion and beauty experts that she has worked with over the past decades.
"I could not have done it on my own, being stylized and being basically created to have this sort of fashion image without the friends I've had in the fashion industry and beauty industry from the get-go… This is the perfect time to give them an homage, so to speak. They've been there to support me and speak of fashion and beauty and how they influence everyday life," she said.
Guingona, for his part, said they will do their best to make "Full Gallop" their own "without losing the spirit of Diana Vreeland."
Noting how the play has been presented differently on Broadway and in London, he said: "In the first place, very few people here know Diana Vreeland so there's no need to be so boxed into what she really looked like. What we need to do is to be true to the spirit of Diana Vreeland rather than to the letter. Everything we do here, Rajo is going to give us designs that are inspired by Diana."
"It will be a beautiful stylized set that captures [Diana's] spirit," he added. "Why would you do it the way they did it? We're doing it here so might as well rethink and redefine it and make it our own."