|Cris Villonco stars in TP's "Walang Sugat." Photo: Handout
MANILA, Philippines – Seasoned theater actress Cris Villonco said she would love to do a TV soap opera if given the opportunity.
”Yes, I would want to do a teleserye,” Villonco said during the recent press conference for Tanghalang Pilipino’s production of ”Walang Sugat,” where she plays the lead role.
”We just want recognition of Filipino talent in all forms, whether on stage or television.”
She was quick to add, however, that theater will always be her home. ”Kahit walang pera o maliit, iba talaga ’pag teatro,” she explained.
Villonco, who began her singing career at the age of nine, said she is looking forward to doing ”Walang Sugat,” which will run from August 9 to 26 at the Tanghalang Aurelio V. Tolentino of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
”I’ve never done a sarsuela,” she explained. ”I just watched it when I was 12 years old.”
Villonco will sing and act alongside Noel Rayos and alternate Antontio Ferrer in the production which is directed by her uncle, Carlos Siguion-Reyna.
”This is the first musical theater project of my Tito. I will support him through and through,” she said of Siguion-Reyna.
Theater as alternative?
Teleseryes, which tend to focus on love in all dimensions, have become the most popular form of entertainment in the Philippines.
Some shows produced by different networks in the country have been aired in other parts of Asia, a testament to the genre’s popularity.
Nanding Josef, Tanghalang Pilipino’s artistic director, lamented that the same level of popularity is not enjoyed by local theater shows which, he said, are only considered as an ”alternative.”
”Ang hirap kasi sa audience ’pag masyadong high-brow, hindi masyadong tinatangkilik,” lamented Josef, who has also done teleseryes.
”Kailangan talaga ng tulong ng Philippine theater companies,” he explained. ”We want to popularize the art form sa young artists at sa audiences.”
Josef stressed the importance of theater, saying that it not only entertains but also gives viewers a dose of culture.
”Maraming values ang play. It challenges our intelligence, walang mababaw na play. May laman talaga,” he said. ”Ang bayan ay di uunlad hangga’t di natin kinikilala ang halaga ng arts and culture sa development ng society.”
Josef also sought the help of government agencies for ”cultural education programs,” which will help children develop interest in the local theater scene.