|Junix Inocian (center) is the narrator in Repertory Philippines' "Jekyll & Hyde," which opens on March 16 at Onstage in Greenbelt 1, Makati, with Michael Williams (left) and Jett Pangan alternating in the title role
MANILA, Philippines – Veteran theater actor Junix Inocian returns to the Philippine stage via Repertory Philippines’ production of the musical “Jekyll & Hyde.”
In the musical version of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, Inocian plays the role of John Utterson, the doctor’s lawyer and best friend, who also acts as the musical’s narrator.
In 1989, Inocian left for the United Kingdom to join the original London cast of “Miss Saigon,” with Lea Salonga and several other Filipinos.
Since then, the Repertory Philippines regular, best known for his performance in “Sweeney Todd,” decided to make London his home.
In an interview with ABS-CBNNews.com during rehearsals for “Jekyll & Hyde,” Inocian said he performers with “Miss Saigon” for six years, and then landed the role of Old Deuteronomy in another Cameron Mackintosh production, “Cats.”
According to Inocian, one can apply for residency in the U.K. after four years of continued employment, and then, after a year, one can already apply for citizenship.
“I chose to become a British citizen because of work,” he said.
Although roles for Asian actors in the West End are limited, Inocian said he has managed to find regular work in TV and film, although many of them are small roles, usually as Asian gangsters. He also does voice work in video games.
“Tiyaga lang talaga,” he said about life as a Filipino actor working in London. “I’ve been quite lucky.”
And while he hasn’t returned to the West End stage after “Cats,” Inocian had performed in “fringe” theater, even winning an award for his performance in Stephen Sondheim’s “Pacific Overtures.”
Before coming to the Philippines for "Jekyll & Hyde," he revealed that he just finished work on a new TV series called “Sinbad.”
“When I return [to London] in June, I’m hoping that it would have a second season,” he said.
Asked about his observations of the current theater scene in Manila, Inocian said he’s happy that the industry has grown by “leaps and bounds.”
“The quality is so good. Well, it has always been good… but there’s that aim to be so much better. And we have Lea Salonga to thank for all this,” he said.
Inocian explained that since Salonga won international acclaim in “Miss Saigon,” theater performers in the Philippines were inspired to prove that Filipinos are truly “world-class” performers.
Inocian reported that several of his Filipino co-actors in “Miss Saigon” have also elected to stay in London. For instance, Maya Barredo, who played Kim, is now married to a British actor, while his friend from the original cast, Miguel Diaz, has found success doing cabaret shows.
Inocian said he’s actually on vacation right now in the Philippines.
“I want to see my family,” he said, adding that the last time he saw his first grandchild was at birth.
“We only see each other through Skype,” he said.
Inocian said he used to come to the Philippines every two years. “But nagmahal na ang airfare, so every four years na lang,” he said.
Every time he would go to the Philippines, he said he would also try to perform onstage. And this time around, director Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo told him that Rep was doing “Jekyll & Hyde.”
In his previous visits, Inocian was able to do “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” for Trumpets and “The Man Who Came to Dinner” for Rep.
After the run of “Jekyll & Hyde,” he said he will go to Mindanao to visit his daughter, and also to Dumaguete to visit his alma mater Silliman University.
And then it’s back to London in June.
Asked if he is open to take on the role of the King in Resorts World Manila’s production of “The King and I” in September, Inocian just laughed.
“I’m too fat for the King,” he said. “Too fat and too old.”