'Like Broadway, PH theater can go global'

By Miguel Dumaual, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Nov 10 2012 12:23 AM | Updated as of Nov 12 2012 06:50 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Like a number of original Broadway and West End shows that have made it to Philippine shores, theater productions originating here also have a "chance to shine" overseas.

As shown by touring productions and adaptations of foreign plays staged in the Philippines, theater has become a global enterprise, according to Oliver Oliveros, editor at theater news website BroadwayWorld (BWW) Philippines.

The Philippine BWW website is the local counterpart of the leading theater news site in the United States and the United Kingdom, and is one of over 20 international editions of the online news source.

"We believe that anything that's coming from theater, specifically Broadway, is already global," Oliveros told ANC Alerts in an interview on Friday.

K-La Rivera and Tom Rodriguez portray Princess Jasmine and Aladdin respectively in Atlantis Productions' local staging of Disney's "Aladdin." Image courtesy of Atlantis Productions' official website

"Like for instance, Disney's 'Little Mermaid' opened on Broadway three years ago, and then last year it opened in Manila," added the New York-based theater enthusiast.

In November 2011, local theater production company Atlantis Productions brought the stage adaptation of the classic Disney film to the Philippines, with former Kapamilya singer Rachelle Ann Go taking on the role of Ariel.

Atlantis Productions also staged Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," and is now set to bring yet another animated classic to the local theater scene, via Disney's "Aladdin."

On top of international touring productions visiting the country -- “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Mamma Mia!” and Cirque du Soleil's "Varekai" recently staged shows here -- other local theater companies have also taken inspiration from foreign plays, with Repertory Philippines' "Jekyll and Hyde" and Resorts World Manila's "Sound of Music" enjoying their respective runs.

"It has legs already," Oliveros said, referring to productions originating from Broadway and the West End, "So we believe it's global. Anything that's happening here (New York), can happen in Manila."

Oliveros also believes that, like these foreign productions, original Filipino theater has equal chance to go "global."

"We believe in equality. Here in New York, it's diverse, everybody is equal, everybody has a chance to shine. That's what we wanted as well to happen in the Philippines -- everybody has a chance to shine, local or international," Oliveros said, explaining the objective of BWW Philippines' sophomore list of local nominees for its annual online poll-driven awards.

The local theater news website earlier this week announced the nominees for this year's BWW Philippines Awards. According to Oliveros, around 4,000 entries were submitted as nominations over the last month -- compared to last year's mere 500.

"I'm so happy that BroadwayWorld is opening a platform for local artists and productions to be known in the other side of the world," Oliveros said, referring to the online polls.

Philippine Educational Theater Association's "Bona" is a contemporary stage adaptation of the 1980 Lino Brocka movie classic, with Eugene Domingo taking on the iconic film role of veteran actress Nora Aunor. Photo: Handout

As such, it has devoted several categories to Filipino plays and musicals, with Tanghalang Pilipino's "Walang Kukurap," Gatimpala Theater Foundation's "Kanser," and Philippine Educational Theater Association's "Bona" among those nominated.

Pointing to the growing interest of Filipinos in theater over the last few years, Oliveros said it was high time BWW Philippines recognized local stage talents.

"Two years ago, my team realized that the Philippines is ready for the same awards because of the readership coming from the Philippines, so we launched it last year," he said.

"This is happening [simultaneously] all over the world and in other states in the US," Oliveros added.

Filipino theater fans can vote online for their favorites in the 2012 BWW Philippines Awards until December 15.

Partial results can be seen after casting a vote, but are still subject to auditing to remove fake, duplicate and other invalid votes.