Produced by Synergy 88, the musical embarks on a jouney of great love and heartbreak that begins one-fated, moon-lit night during the Mid-Autumn Festival of 1971 in the heart of Manila’s Chinatown.
The winning team of Maynila, Sa Kuko ng Liwanag (ALIW Awards and PhilStage’s Gawad Buhay), is back. Award-winning film director Joel Lamangan and composer and musical director Von de Guzman are headlining the formidable artistic tandem of the new production, Binondo, A Tsinoy Musical. This early, it is safe to predict that by June, it will be considered as a major theater event that kicks off the Philippine theater season to a spectacular start.
Written by Ricky Lee with Gershow Chua and Eljay Deldoc, Binondo tells the story of Lily, a Filipino night club singer, and Ah Tiong, a mainland Chinese scholar, and how their love and romance spanned two decades and two countries, proving to all that true love, indeed, conquers all – distance, racial prejudice, political turmoil, years of absence and waiting.
Adding another layer of conflict, confusion and burning passion to the musical is the character of Carlos, Lily’s childhood friend who is hopelessly devoted and in love with her, as well.
A love triangle as the center force in a Filipino-Chinese musical? Why not? Giving life to the character of Carlos is Floyd Tena. His alternate is seasoned theater actor Noel Rayos. The debonair thespian is no stranger on stage. Floyd recollects, “My first professional musical was Fili, Isang Panaginip by Floy Quintos. It coincided with Kanser by Gantimpala Theater. I played Padre Salvi and the US tour of Song of Joseph by Fides Cuyugan. My first straight play was Kung Paano Maghiwalay by George de Jesus. ”
He carries on, “Music and acting always played a vital role in my college years so when I got into this business, everything would always lead me to musicals. I guess, my whole being craves for it. Performing in a play, it’s different when I perform with my group PRIMO.”
He believes that his audition piece, a soulful and heartfelt version of “Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan” was the major reason why he bagged the role for his sixth musical. Floyd reveals his acting process, “When I portray a role, I build my character according to the story. I give my character his own history and I always try to dissect the similarities of myself and the character I’m portraying. And since I use the Chubbuck technique, I try to journey the character with my own personal journey so it becomes relatable. I really put/invest my entire being when I do musicals. I always go for the truth.”
The Chubbuck Technique, according its official page, “Builds on teaching traditions that stretch back to Stanislavski and infuses them with current advances in behavioral science and psychology. It teaches what works, and what does not, by teaching literally thousands of working actors and helping them to create many amazing roles. It teaches actors to go to the source of what motivates human behavior. The Chubbuck Technique is a way to realize and embody a character so that the character becomes you, and you become the character. It also helps recreate the actions of a dynamic individual.”
For Floyd, people will love Carlos because, ” The audience could easily feel for Carlos as he is the one who loves even if it’s not reciprocated. He loves even when he is hurting. But his love is bigger than the pain.”
Why must we root for Carlos? He jokingly answers, “You should be with #TeamCarlos because he has so much love to give without expecting anything in return. In reality, mahirap na makahanap ng ganyan ngayon.” He laughs heartily after answering the query. Tena declares that he still believes in romance, “Of course! I live for romance. Don’t let your heart die,” he chuckles.
What he does not believe though, is the situation of Carlos. He says he will not and will never be part of a trois personnes amoureuses (three person in love) situation.
Portraying the major roles in the musical are Shiela Valderrama Martinez and Carla Guevarra Laforteza alternately playing Lily. Arman Ferrer and David Ezra alternately portrays Ah Tiong. Yela Laurel (Jasmine); Ashley Factor (Ruby); Ima Castro (Mrs. Dela Rosa); Anna Feleo and Jennifer Villegas (Lourdes); Kay Balajadia and Elizabeth Chua (Mrs. Chua); Dondi Ong (Mr. Chua); Russel Magno (Mr. Zang); Elizabeth Chua (Mrs. Zang); Jim Pebanco, Lorenz Martinez, Khalil Kaimo, Ellrica Laguardia, Rhapsody and Tuesday Vargas (Chorus); Jonel Mojica (Go Lao); Philip Delos and Ivana Billanuevqa (Swing).
Other members of the artistic team are Rebecca Chuaunsu (Original Story/Producer), Douglas Nierras (Choreography), Joey Nombres (Lights Design), Otto Hernandez (Production Designer/Technical Director).
In conclusion, Floyd states why people must watch Binondo, “It is an original Filipino (or Tsinoy) musical about marriage of two different cultures amidst a cultural and political revolution. People will definitely enjoy the unravelling of the love story of the three major characters and they will witness if tradition and cultural differences can stop people from following the dictates of their hearts.”
Binondo, A Tsinoy Musical performances will be at the Theatre at Solaire and are slated on June 29 (8pm); June 30 and July 1 (3pm/8pm); July 6 (8pm); July 7 and 8 (3pm/8pm).