MANILA -- A super typhoon ravaged the country when "Maxie the Musicale" had its world premiere in 2013. There were attempts to re-stage it but the heavens had other plans. After six years, the stars seemed to be aligning in its favor.
Producers Darwin Mariano and Carlo Miguel Francia of Bit by Bit Company confirmed to ABS-CBN News that "Maxie the Musicale" will be staged at the Arete's 800-seat Hyundai Hall in July 2020. Arete is the art hub of Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.
The coming-of-age story of 12-year-old gay boy Maxie was adapted from the acclaimed 2005 Cinemalaya film, "Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros." Produced by ufo Pictures, it was directed by Auraeus Solito from the screenplay written by Michiko Yamamoto.
"Maxie the Musicale" was first staged at the PETA Theater Center on November 9, 2013, as Bit by Bit Company's second major production after the commercial run of Francisco Baltazar’s "Orosman at Zafira" in 2011.
The libretto was written by poet-playwright-lawyer Nicolas Pichay, while the music was co-written by William Elvin Manzano, JJ Pimpinio and Janine Santos. It was directed and choreographed by Dexter Martinez Santos.
"'Maxie' opened on November 9, 2013, when 'Yolanda' hit the country and it ran for only a month," Pichay told ABS-CBN News in an online interview, with a bit of regret.
Mariano added: "We wanted to restage it a couple of times before, most notably in 2016, but we didn’t and couldn’t because of a combination of circumstances. But there is the proverbial alignment of the stars in 2020, and we all look forward to Dexter’s restaging next year."
"Challenging siya kasi it's been six years. May bagong perspectives ka na. You get inspiration from people you work with," director Santos told ABS-CBN News.
Santos is happy to have the ample time to rest from doing musicals after the 115 performances of "Ang Huling El Bimbo" at Resorts World Manila's Newport Performing Arts Theater. "I am now doing corporate shows aside from my regular teaching job at the UP, full load ang subjects ko. So yeah, this is my next big project," he said.
"There will be an entirely different cast, basically because most of the actors have grown," he added, noting that the young actor who played Maxie, Jayvhot Galang, is now working at O Bar. The policeman Victor Perez was played by Jojo Riguerra.
Pichay said he didn't make any revisions to the text. He added those who aren't familiar with the musical may listen to the cast album recording available on Spotify.
"Maxie the Musicale" held auditions at William and Claire Tan Untiong Performing Arts Studio at the Arete on September 30 and October 1.
In an in exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News, producer Darwin Mariano explained the return of "Maxie." Excerpts:
Q: Tell us about how the idea of re-staging "Maxie the Musicale" come about? When did it start, who approached who?
A: We fell in love with "Maxie" the first time we produced it in 2013 and we were sure then that "Maxie" needed to sing again, so to speak. We were actually ready to restage "Maxie" in 2016 but we had to cancel that run because we needed to move to Singapore. When we came back to Manila in 2018, we founded Ticket2Me, an online ticketing platform.
We’ve only been online for a little over a year but our growth has been very encouraging. When Ticket2Me’s operations started to stabilize, we went back to thinking about "Maxie" and we firmly decided to restage it in 2020. The timing was also perfect for us since our director, Dexter Santos, just finished directing the final run of his hit musical so we got around to talking last month.
We then informed our playwright (Nick Pichay), our composers (William Elvin Manzano, JJ Pimpinio, and Janine Santos), and the original filmmakers (Jade Castro, Emmanuel dela Cruz, Moira Lang, and Michiko Yamamoto) about the restaging and they were all happy and looking forward to the 2020 production.
Q: How much do you love the original film version?
A: We’ve loved it from the first time that we saw it in Cinemalaya. Deciding to produce the stage adaptation is one of the happiest decisions we have ever made.
Q: How was it during the conceptualization and when you first saw the musical?
A: As producers, we were present during all stages of the musical’s production. We were there during the first concept meeting with the filmmakers, during the initial meeting with Dexter and Nick and the rest of the artistic team, during the auditions, workshops, and rehearsals. We got the chance to watch the full version of the show during tech week in November 2013 and it was then when we realized that we really had a gem of a show.
Q: How many performances are you targeting now?
A: "Maxie the Musicale 2020" is slated for a 30-performance run, starting in July 2020. Specific dates will be made available closer to the run.
Q: Anything you may want to add?
A: As early as now, there have been many exciting developments about different aspects of the restaging. We’ll be sure to share these developments to the theatre public as soon as we get clearance and finality.
We all feel that while "Maxie the Musicale" has the potential to be a Filipino theater classic, its positive and negative themes and messages hit closer to home, now more than ever.