Tim Pavino returns to Rep stage for Christmas musical

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Nov 28 2021 09:17 AM

Tim Pavino in ‘The Great Christmas Cookie Bake-Off.’ Handout
Tim Pavino in ‘The Great Christmas Cookie Bake-Off.’ Handout

MANILA -- When theater actor Tim Pavino played the title role in Repertory Philippines’ “Miong” in 2019, the entire Aguinaldo family honored him with their presence in one night.

“As I was saying goodbye after the show, the family said, ‘Bye, Lolo, so nice to see you again!’,” Pavino told ABS-CBN News. “That was precious to me as an actor, because I felt I had done my job in bringing Emilio Aguinaldo to life on stage.”

Pavino considers “Miong” as a “huge undertaking” to represent our first Philippine president and also celebrate his centennial that year in 2019.

However, it was Pavino’s role as the dysfunctional Gabe Goodman in the Ateneo Blue Repertory musical, “Next To Normal,” that Pavino considers his most challenging to date.

“I have dealt with mental health in my own life, as well as dealt with the mental health situations between friends and family,” he honestly disclosed.

“So playing Gabe really tapped into a lot of my hidden anger and vulnerability, which I have never poured out before on stage.”

“Next To Normal” became a casualty production of the pandemic in March last year. “We were able to open for our first week of sold-out shows,” Pavino recalled. “Unfortunately, that became also our last week due to the pandemic.”

When the virus left everyone in the theater scene jobless and idle, Pavino opted to return to Seattle, Washington, where his family is based. He happened to be back in Manila for a few projects and was invited to audition with Repertory Philippines for a new show.

Not knowing specifically what he was auditioning for, Pavino was nonetheless thrilled that he made it to the young cast of the holiday family show about baking, “The Great Christmas Cookie Bake-Off.”

“I get a chance to play a video game buff [Javi Carreon], who carries a lot of insecurities about his abilities in the kitchen, as well as how he interacts with others,” Pavino informed.

“To see how well he does in the competition, you'll have to come and watch our show.”

“The Great Christmas Cookie Bake-Off” is the first for Repertory Theater for Young Audiences (RTYA) in two years after “The Quest for Adarna” in 2019. “The Great Christmas Cookie Bake-Off” was created especially for young audiences and is the first-ever Filipino production available on streaming platform Broadway on Demand.

“To put it simply, this show is a whole lot of fun,” Pavino said of his latest theater assignment. “There are many elements and characters in this show that everyone can relate to.

“This original musical by Rick Hip-Flores is kind of like throwing those crazy chef competitions in a mixer full of sweets, treats and a lot of color. I say color because the range of emotions everyone will experience will be so unexpected coming from this story.

“Another side to putting this show together was that we have the opportunity to showcase our homegrown Filipino talents on the world stage through Broadway on Demand.”

In “The Great Christmas Cookie Bake-Off,” Pavino interestingly gets to work anew with a number of personalities from his “Miong” days. For one, director Joy Virata worked at the helm of the Christmas virtual presentation.

“Ms. Joy literally is such a joy to work with,” Pavino asserted. “She really gets involved to the T. If something is unclear to you, she will jump right in on stage to show you what she means, how it should be done and also how your acting choices can grow from scene to scene. What a pleasure it is to be working with her again. She is a true theater veteran.”

Pavino’s leading lady in “Miong,” Cara Barrredo is now the assistant director in “The Great Christmas Cookie Bake-Off.”

“I love that Cara and I got to work together on a new depth as director to actor this time,” Pavino said. “Like Cara, I have worked with many of the other castmates before in other shows and a few for the first time.

“There is one particular castmate, Jep Go, who has been my show-brother since we joined ‘The Voice of the Philippines’ [Season 2] under Team Lea Salonga.

“To everyone in ‘The Great Christmas Cookie Bake-Off,’ from stage to back of house, it's a pleasure to be able to work with incredible professionals whom you can consider family in this sometimes crazy industry that we love so much.”

Pavino’s character, Javi Carreon, gives the audience a sneak peek at what happens to people under pressure in reality competitions.

“Every character has his own, personal breakdown during this show,” he explained. “Seeing each one rise to the occasion as the show progresses is something I can't wait for everyone to see. 

Although Pavino did an actor's workshop show with Rep, “Measure In Love,” in 2011, “The Great Christmas Cookie Bake-Off” is only his second production with Rep after “Miong.”

He cannot be thankful enough to be back to performing onstage again after more than a year, with the show presented even only through streaming.

“Being an artist, I have to continue growing and perfecting my craft,” admitted Pavino. “Having had a pause in my flow of art due to the pandemic made this experience of waiting both agonizing and refreshing.

“It allowed me to reconnect with parts of myself which I have not taken care of since the start of my career. Doing ‘The Great Christmas Cookie Bake-Off’ really gave me more appreciation for the gift we have and get to share with others.”

The joy of performing again is undeniably a joy not just for Pavino, but for his fellow theater actors, as well.

“From our Zoom rehearsals, to getting swabbed and locked in for in-person rehearsals, to finally being on stage again in our element, our home, the stage -- there's no way to fully describe the joy we all felt.

“I remember waiting for our first run of filming for the show and we were all on stage in costumes in a line. I laid down on the stage and stared up at the lights and ceiling and just appreciated the moment.

“Not everyone will ever get to see that stage point of view and I felt like I took it for granted pre-pandemic. Just thankful. So thankful.”

Although Seattle will forever be Pavino’s home, he does not mind shuttling between Seattle and Manila, where he feels “home and alive” as a person. “Something about this place has given back to me tenfold in every aspect of my life,” he maintained.

“I have gone through most of my adulting challenges here in the Philippines and I feel so connected to our people. Prior to moving to Manila, I was always listening to Filipino music and was so engulfed in Philippine culture and trying to learn Tagalog on my own.

“So I've always felt that I didn't belong there in Seattle. I still fly back and forth because of family and friends, but I know, in my heart, I will most-likely stay in Manila for the long run.”

"The Great Christmas Cookie Bake Off" will be streamed exclusively on Broadway on Demand from November 12 to December 12.