If there was one Disney musical that would need a triple threat talent, Newsies would be it. Having said this, Newsies would then be one of the hardest musical to stage and yet, Globe LIVE and 9Works Theatrical has put it upon their shoulders to stage Newsies here in the Philippines.
Disney’s Newsies is a high-energy, dance-intensive musical and Gawad Buhay winning choreographer PJ Rebullida talks about working with the 21 young men who comprise the “Newsies”
On all weekends of July, the Globe Iconic Store Bonifacio High Street Amphitheater will be the home for one of Disney’s biggest theatrical hits, the 2012 Tony Award winning musical including Best Music, Newsies. Originally produced on Broadway by Disney Theatrical Productions, this high-energy musical is an adaptation of the 1992 cult hit motion picture (starring Christian Bale) and is inspired by the true events of the “Newsboy Strike of 1899” in New York. With lyrics by Jack Feldman, music by Tony and Oscar winning composer Alan Menken, and book by Harvey Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles), Newsies is another theatrical event brought to you by the country’s number one mobile network through its entertainment arm, Globe Live, and Manila’s premiere theater company, 9 Works Theatrical.
Gawad Buhay award winning choreographer PJ Rebullida, with director Robbie Guevara at the helm, is reimagining the choreography for the Philippine premiere of Newsies.
“As opposed to what I did before, like say in American Idiot, I had everything planned out,” says PJ. “I read the script and I said, ‘I could go crazy with this’ because the storyline wasn’t so defined as Newsies. Here, there is a storyline to follow. That’s harder because you have to know how to plot point when the highlight happens. That’s the hard part right now.”
When it comes to choreographing an Alan Menken score, Rebullida says, “He’s a genius. When I listen to the music, the music will tell me to jump. It’s Alan Menken. I can hear the jumps and the pirouettes.” Tying up the movement and making it organic to the story and the setting are what he spent most of the time on when working with his actors during workshops.
With 21 young men of various degrees of dance skills, Rebullida was happy to have had a training ground with his actors: six hours, five days a week training in ballet, jazz, tap, singing, acting, scene work, and everything else that would help the actors be ready for this show. “We’re not making this easy for them,” he shares about the choreography and the need for training. “We’re raising the bar. My goal is that everyone does a double pirouette our taps clean.”
What about choreographing for an amphitheater stage? “The thing about choreographing in an amphitheater setting is that there are other factors at play,” he explains. “There are sounds and lights from outside. There are restaurants in view, and people are passing by, so [as an audience member] even if there’s something happening in front, your focus isn’t completely there. So your peg when you are choreographing for an amphitheater is the visuals matches everything and you give time for the audience to let the visuals sink in.
Newsies stars Gian Magdangal, who has just come back from a stint at Hong Kong Disneyland’s The Golden Mickeys and Universal Studios in Japan. Joining him as part of the newsboys are Jef Flores (recent Gawad Buhay awardee for Outstanding Lead Actor for Tick, Tick…BOOM! ), Daniel Drilon (Secret Garden, Fun Home), Tory Cortez (Hansel and Gretel, A Christmas Carol), Luis Marcelo (Little Shop of Horrors), and Alex Diaz (Singer, Host, Star Magic talent, MYX VJ). Also in the cast are Danielle Chopin (Into the Woods, My Fair Lady), Greg Dulcie (The Wizard of Oz, Sweeney Todd), Pinky Marquez (The Wedding Singer, Beauty and the Beast), and Raymund Concepcion (Annie, The Little Mermaid).
Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical’s production of Disney’s Newsies is directed by Robbie Guevara, together with PJ Rebullida as choreographer, Franz Imperial as assistant director, Daniel Bartolome as musical director, Yek Barlongay additional choreography for tap, Ed Lacson as set designer, Eric Pineda as costume designer, Martin Esteva as lighting designer, GA Fallarme as video & projection designer, Myrene Santos as hair and makeup designer and Dong Calingacion as technical director.
Heading the production team are executive producers Joe Caliro (Globe Live) and Santi Santamaria (9 Works Theatrical), Denise Seva (Globe Live Director for Events and Production), with 9 Works Theatrical’s Anna Santamaria as company manager, Jonjon Martin and Issa Tuason as PR managers, GM Hernandez as marketing manager, and Arma Bonilla as stage manager.
Newsies will be staged at the Globe Iconic Store Bonifacio High Street Amphitheater, Bonifacio Global City on July 7-9, 14-16, 21-23 & 28-30, 2017 at 8:00pm.
For tickets and more information, go to go.globe.com.ph/newsies, or contact Ticketworld at 891.9999.
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Disney’s Newsies is a production of Globe Live & 9 Works Theatrical, co-presented by FOX and StarWorld, with MAC Cosmetics as the official make-up partner. Special thanks to RX93.1, Bonifacio High Street and Mossimo.
Disney’s Newsies is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).