MANILA -- A lot of firsts will happen during the upcoming 12th Gawad Buhay Awards by the Philippine Legitimate Stage Artists Group or Philstage, touted the local version of the prestigious Tony Awards in Broadway.
One, the much-awaited event happening at 8 p.m. on October 8 will be “a mix of recorded performances with live segments.”
The awarding ceremony will take place, for the very first time in 12 years, at the Philippine Educational Theater Association’s PETA-Phinma Theater. Expectedly, and also another first, the whole shebang will be directed by the veteran Maribel Legarda, artistic director of PETA.
Legarda has been a member of PETA since the late 1970s and in recent years, she’s been known for directing the theater company’s phenomenal original musicals like “Rak of Aegis” and “Care Divas.”
The past few days, Legarda and her team have been busy shooting scenes here and there, sometimes spending the whole night at the PETA building in New Manila because they went on rehearsing and recording performances beyond the Quezon City government’s 10 p.m. curfew.
The script was a collaborative effort, she told ABS-CBN News in an online interview on Friday.
Another first, the event is a collaboration between PETA and Black Box Productions, the theater group behind the hit musicals, “Mula Sa Buwan” and “Dekada 70,” both written and directed by Pat Valera.
According to Valera, the awards show’s estimated running time is one hour and a half, starting at 8 p.m. and will be streamed at Philstage’s Facebook page and on Theater Fans Manila website.
This year, Valera said he is serving as Philstage’s public relations officer.
The show will be hosted by Phil Palmos and Meanne Espinosa, who will also function as presenters of the awards.
“We know that most of us miss the theater – that is why for this year, we recorded some of the performances and segments in PETA’s Theater. Led by Phi Palmos and Meanne Espinosa and directed by Maribel Legarda, we’ll get to journey the different spaces of the theater where worlds and wonder happens,” Valera told ABS-CBN News on Thursday.
Valera said for the 18 categories that have their own set of nominees, the announcement of winners and acceptance speeches will happen real-time or live. It follows that the winners will be notified on the awarding night so each nominee is advised to prepare his or her speech well.
“For this year, the opening and closing performances, with Vince Lim as musical director, are expected to be a gathering of theater artists –– a show of force –– but more importantly, a reminder to our audience that we are here to stay,” Valera added.
This year, the top contenders are Sandbox Collective’s “Dani Girl,” Tanghalang Pilipino’s “Lam-Ang” and Philippine Opera Company’s “Passion,” with 12, 11 and nine nominations, respectively.
Founded in 1997, Philstage is the alliance of sixteen professional companies in the theatrical arts.
The nominees were announced on September 8 on Theater Fans Manila’s YouTube channel, hosted by Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and Kapamilya actor Jay Cuenca.