‘Unauthorized’ Jodi Sta. Maria musical gets actress’ approval

Miguel Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 19 2022 08:42 PM | Updated as of Apr 19 2022 08:46 PM

AC Soriano, or @ItsACsLife, takes on characters portrayed by Jodi Sta. Maria — (from left) Maya, Jill, and Amor — in a live ‘Rusical’ as a tribute to the actress. Instagram: @itsacslife
AC Soriano, or @ItsACsLife, takes on characters portrayed by Jodi Sta. Maria — (from left) Maya, Jill, and Amor — in a live ‘Rusical’ as a tribute to the actress. Instagram: @itsacslife

MANILA — A one-man, “unauthorized” musical featuring the iconic roles of Jodi Sta. Maria — from the naïve Maya to the vengeful Doc Jill — got no less than the screen superstar’s approval as she watched the half-hour Instagram live show Sunday, along with 12,000 others.

From his bedroom, digital filmmaking graduate Allan Soriano streamed what he dubbed, “Jodi Sta Maria: The Unauthorized Rusical” — inspired by the term popularized by “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The musical production saw him transforming into Maya from “Be Careful with My Heart,” Amor Powers from “Pangako Sa ‘Yo,” Marissa from “Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin,” and Doc Jill from “The Broken Marriage Vow.”

Prior to the musical, Soriano, who goes by @ItsACsLife on social media, had been impersonating Jill for nearly two months, in short clips and videos that would go viral. Sporting a wig to match the character’s signature bob-with-bangs hairstyle, and approximating the series’ patriotic fashion, Soriano caught the attention of many fans of “The Broken Marriage Vow” — but not Sta. Maria’s, at least not right away.

That changed when, in character as Jill, he “threatened” to kidnap the character’s son Gio (played by Zaijian Jaranilla in the series) during an Instagram live session.

“Naisip ko, ang tagal-tagal ko nang ginagawa itong Doc Jill, hindi pa rin ako napapansin ni Ms. Jodi,” Soriano recalled in a phone interview with ABS-CBN News. “In Doc Jill mode, sinabi ko na, ‘Jodi, kung hindi mo ako ipa-follow ngayon, kukunin ko si Gio.’”

“Ang daming nanonood nu’n. Tinag si Ms. Jodi doon sa live, tinag si Ms. Jodi doon sa Twitter, hanggang sa nakita ni Ms. Jodi kinabukasan na tini-threaten ko siya!” he said, laughing.

The two would eventually exchange messages online, with Soriano informing Sta. Maria of his tribute to her through the live “Rusical.” The actress, to Soriano’s surprise, asked how she could tune in. Come Sunday night, @jodistamaria popped up among the thousands of usernames listed to be watching.

Soriano was elated. In between character segments — he had to re-launch the livestream numerous times due to technical issues — he would repeatedly exclaim, “I love you, Ms. Jodi!”

Soriano, 27, has been following Sta. Maria since her “Tabing Ilog” days, but it wasn’t until the 2012 series “Mundo Man ay Magunaw” when he considered himself, in Gen Z speak, a “stan” or a loyal fan of the actress.

“Napanood ko lahat. Ang pinakauna kong nasabi na, ‘Oh, ang galing niya,’ ‘yung siya ‘yung batang Eula Valdez sa ‘Mundo Man ay Magunaw.’ Doon ako nagkaroon ng inkling na, ‘Parang keri niyang maging Amor Powers.’ Ta’s eventually naging Amor Powers nga!” he said.

Valdez originated the iconic role of Amor Powers in the pioneering teleserye “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” in 2000. Sta. Maria, who was also a cast member of that series, portrayed Amor in the equally popular 2015 remake.

Soriano’s own take on Sta. Maria’s characters, including Amor, took a week of preparation, he told ABS-CBN News. He explained that the audio and graphics for the show were the easier tasks; the real challenge was his character studies.

“Ano ‘yung pagkakaiba ni Marissa kay Amor? Kasi parehas na revenge plot,” he pointed out. “Paano manggigil si Marissa, paano manggigil si Doc Jill?”

“Si Maya, sweet lang. Madali lang siya. Mari-MariMar, shonga-shongahan!” he quipped. “Si Amor naman, ‘yung smile niya parang, ‘Oh, I already made it, kahit ano gawin niyo.’ So kapag nag-smile siya, ang dami na niyang pinagdaanan. ‘Yung pamilya na naranasan ‘yung pagguho ng Talimpao. Iyon ‘yung iniisip ko.”

“Si Marissa naman, she’s just plain villain. ‘Yung gigil niya, ‘yung sigaw, very telenovela. High emotions! Si Doc Jill, psychological. ‘Yung titig talaga ‘yung inaaral, pina-practice ko every day hanggang tumulo ang luha,” Soriano added.

On D-Day, Soriano had to grapple with unforeseen issues, including the stream’s several crashes — and the fact that he had allotted a shorter-than-needed time for his quick changes inside the bathroom.

“May mga butones ‘yung mga damit. Wala nang butones kagabi kamamadali ko magpalit! Lahat ‘yun, puro hinihila ko na lang. Kasi walang dress rehearsal talaga. Tinatansya ko lang siya habang ini-edit ko ‘yung audio. ‘Kaya na bang one minute, magpapalit ako?’ Minsan hindi kinakaya, kaya pinupunit ko nalang ‘yung damit!” he recalled.

Somehow, Soriano managed to make the transitions between characters, both in looks and vibe, appear seamless. It helped that they were instantly recognizable to viewers who have watched Sta. Maria’s many TV dramas.

Going by Sta. Maria’s comments throughout the stream— from “hahaha’s” to clapping emojis and approving words — the actress was entertained by Soriano’s camp portrayals, and impressed by the amount of effort that went into the “Rusical.” (The dance remix of Jill’s line exposing her husband’s affair — “Your daughter is sleeping with my husband” — appeared to be a highlight for Sta. Maria.)

“Buti na nga lang malayo ‘yung phone, so hindi ko nakikita kung nag-ko-comment siya kasi baka mahiya ako!” Soriano said. “Para ma-maintain ‘yung comedy at saka hindi ma-break ‘yung fourth wall, hindi ko masyadong tinitingnan, though alam kong nandoon siya.”

When it was time to wrap the show, Soriano received a private message from Sta. Maria, which he then read aloud to the thousands who were still tuned in.

“Hi, AC!” Soriano quoted Sta. Maria as saying. “I just want to congratulate you on your performance tonight. Super nakakaaliw ka… Keep making people happy. You have a wonderful gift. Ingat ka always. God bless you.”

Soriano, whose political “Rusical” featuring a parody of Toni Gonzaga previously went viral, is already looking forward to the next big production. For now, the tribute is a toss-up between Angel Locsin or Marian Rivera. 

Whether they’ll be tuned in, too, like Sta. Maria, remains to be seen, once Soriano taps “Live” on Instagram next.