'Comfort gay' Markova is now the subject of a new musical

Jeeves de Veyra

Posted at Aug 13 2018 03:09 PM

'Comfort gay' Markova is now the subject of a new musical 1
Tha cast of 'Gee-gee at Waterina Ang Musikal' pose for a group photo during the press conference. Handout

MANILA -- "Markova: Comfort Gay" was one of the last great movies of the late Dolphy. This movie, which starred the King of Comedy together with his sons Epy and Eric Quizon, told the story of Walter “Markova’ Dempster Jr. and his trials as a “comfort gay” during the Japanese occupation.

Theater group Artists Playground pulls back the curtain on the movie by presenting “Gee-gee at Waterina Ang Musikal” as it opens its fourth season. The musical tells the story of what happened behind the scenes of the movie, focusing on fictionalized versions of Markova and Pasay City Councilor Justo “JJ” Justo as they figure out what to do with the money they got for the film rights.

“Geegee at Waterina” was first presented as a straight play at the first Virgin Labfest back in 2005. Playwright Dennis Teodosio recalled that he was invited by a photographer to interview Markova and Justo. In that interview, he noticed that the two were pretty vague and unclear with their answers, particularly regarding how much they were paid for the rights of their story. This became the basis for the play that Teodosio would write.

Since then, the play has become a short film and a favorite thesis project for college students taking up Theater Arts. This Artist’s Playground production is the latest version of “Geegee at Waterina” which it has adapted into a musical. 

Teodosio, who moved to Myanmar to write children’s shows back in 2011, came back to Manila to help write this version.

Artist Playground artistic director Roeder Camanag gets to channel his inner Chita Rivera in his portrayal of Waterina. In his performance during the preview, he gave Waterina a certain elegance for someone who’s seen and been through a lot and yet still has stories to tell. 

Norman Penaflorida plays Geegee as a foil for Camanag’s Waterina, imbibing him with much energy and flamboyance befitting the character’s public stature. 

Supporting them is a chorus composed Bench Ortiz, Joseph Dela Cruz, Nel Gumalog, Romeo Palma Jr., and Sean Nolasco who will be portraying different roles throughout the play.

With the amount of original Filipino musicals coming out this year, it is refreshing to see independent theater companies like the Artists Playground produce works like “GeeGee at Waterina Isang Musikal” in smaller, more intimate venues.

The cast and writers do think the play is relevant in this age of muddled facts and alternative news. 

“In the end, 'Geegee at Waterina' is not just a play about telling the truth but it also encourages us to look to our inner selves and find out if if we have a lesson to give to those around us,” reflects Teodosio.

“Gee-gee and Waterina Ang Musikal” will run at Arts Above, 112 West Avenue, Quezon City with 7 p.m. shows on August 18, 19, 25, and 26.