MANILA – Acclaimed director Joel Lamangan helms the stage musical version of “Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag,” the award-winning novel by Edgardo Reyes.
Presented by Grand Leisure Corporation, the musical will be staged at KIA Theater in Cubao, Quezon City starting September 30. It features music by Von de Guzman, choreography by Douglas Nierras, and production design by Jun Flavier Pablo.
During the media preview of “Maynila” on Tuesday, Lamangan stressed that the musical will be based strictly on Reyes’ novel, not on the acclaimed film by Lino Brocka.
For instance, one of the scenes that did not make it to the stage is lead character Julio Madiaga’s brief stint as a call boy which, Lamangan explained, only took place in the movie.
“Tinanggal po namin lahat ng episode na nag-call boy si Julio Madiaga. Ito po ay respeto kay Edgardo Reyes sa nobela, nag-stick kami doon sa sinasabi sa nobela… dahil ‘yun po ay dinagdag lang ni Lino Brocka bilang direktor sa isang pelikula,” he said.
“Wala rin po ‘yung mga karakter nina Jojo Abella at Manny Castañeda,” the director added.
Even if its story is set in the 1970s, Lamangan said today’s audiences will be able to relate to “Maynila,” noting that its main theme of exploitation is still being experienced by many Filipinos.
“I did not put Duterte, I did not put Aquino, I did not put anybody. But when you see it, you will know that these conditions still exist now. It’s very political… it’s about exploitation, which is still happening today,” he said.
“Mararamdaman nila (audience) na may mga taong pinagsasamantalahan, na may mga taong nagsasamantala, na may mga tanga na napupunta sa Maynila. Di ba ito ang sinasabi ng opening [song], na dapat walang tanga sa Maynila? Dahil may mga mapagsamantala sa Maynila, may mga tao na hindi kino-consider na tumulong imbes ay samantalahin ang mga nangangailangan at bagong salta. Iyon pa rin hanggang ngayon,” he added.
“Maynila” centers on the love story between Julio Madiaga (Arman Ferrer) and Ligaya Paraiso (Sheila Valderrama-Martinez/Lara Maigue).
Other important characters in the musical include Pol (Floyd Tena), Atong (Noel Rayos), Imo (Rafa Siguion-Reyna/Joseph Puducay), Perla (Aicelle Santos/Rita Daniela), Mr. Balajadia (Jim Pebanco/Joseph Billezar), Gido (Khalil Kaimo), Omeng (Jeffrey Camanag), Benny (Romcel Binquis), Frank (Randy Rey), and Mrs. Cruz (Dulce/Ima Castro).
“Honestly, this is a very inspiring cast. I haven’t had the problem in any of the days I’ve worked with them,” said Nierras, who conceptualized all of the dance routines in “Maynila.”
When asked what kind of choreography viewers can expect when they watch the musical, Nierras replied: “The method we’re using is more like West End or Broadway, with the body conditioning, the choreography sessions, the dance workouts, etc. But the styles that we will use for the dance are very Filipino. It’s a compendium of everything that we’ve learned from the West and the East, including the maglalatik.”
“We want to make sure that it still feels like a Pinoy piece of art,” he added.
De Guzman, for his part, said the music of “Maynila” will be “very current,” but will still have a “Pinoy vibe.”
“It will have elements of kundiman, singkil, ati-atihan, lahat ‘yun magsasama-sama for something unique,” he said.
“Maynila” will be shown at the KIA Theater on September 30 (3 p.m. and 8 p.m.), October 1 (3 p.m. and 8 p.m.), October 4 (8 p.m.), October 5 (8 p.m.), and October 6 (3 p.m. and 8 p.m.).