Art imitates life? Nikki deals with breakup in new musical

By Jude Cartalaba

Posted at Jul 16 2014 08:12 PM | Updated as of Jul 18 2014 12:01 AM

Nikki Gil poses for a photo during rehearsals for her upcoming musical "The Last Five Years." Photo courtesy of Kathy Rivera

MANILA -- She may have moved on but her almost five-year relationship with fellow Kapamilya talent Billy Crawford is bound to haunt Nikki Gil as she returns to the musical theater stage in a role that closely hews to her real life.

In the upcoming musical "The Last Five Years," the versatile singer-actress plays Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress in a failed relationship.

It's a role she could identify with. In an interview during a break from rehearsals for the 9 Works Theatricals production, Gil recalled that when she was still starting out in showbiz, she too had her share of rejections.

But it is her much publicized breakup with the "It's Showtime" host that immediately comes to mind when talking about her latest stage role in the musical.

Created by Jason Robert Brown, reportedly inspired by his own failed marriage, "The Last Five Years" tells of the five-year relationship between rising novelist Jamie Wellerstein and Hiatt. What made this 2001 musical memorable is that his story is told in chronological order, while her story unravels in reverse.

Gil tried her best to avoid talking directly about her own heartbreak. She said she likes all of the songs in the musical but singled out two "standouts."

One of them is "Still Hurting," which Cathy sings at the end of the relationship, with lines that go "What about lies, Jamie? / What about things that you swore to be true? / What about you, Jamie?/ What about you?"

“'Still Hurting’ will always be a favorite, but I also like Jamie’s ‘The Schuel Song,’” Gil said, noting that the second song is about "unconditional love" and allowing a partner to soar high. "It’s the kind of love that Jamie Wellerstein had for Cathy," she said.

While singing the songs during rehearsals, Gil admitted that she is reminded of feelings and thoughts from her previous personal struggles.

During those stormy moments of her life, she said she is blessed to have a pastor who ministered to her, her family, who stood by her side, and her good friend Iya Villania.

Audiences can expect Gil to bring her own experience in her most dramatic stage role to date after taking on relatively lighter roles in musicals like "They're Playing Our Song," "Sweet Charity" and "Legally Blonde."

In "The Last Five Years," she also gets a new leading man: Joaquin Pedro Valdes, who was named best featured actor in a play at the 2013 Gawad Buhay for his performance in "Red."

There's a different kind of spark from the fresh tandem when they rehearse the musical's only duet "The Next Ten Minutes," which is Valdes’s favorite.

Gil, who also stars in the upcoming primetime series "Hawak Kamay" with Piolo Pascual, reiterated that she has moved on but she also admitted that she had her "moments."

“I skipped the grieving part and rushed to the healing process,” she said.
"The Last Five Years" opens on August 9 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza, Makati City. It runs until August 31.