Rep lines up Jose Mari Chan musical, Philippine folklore for children in 2024

Rep lines up Jose Mari Chan musical, Philippine folklore for children in 2024

FOR its 86th season — and its first full season post-pandemic — Repertory Philippines (Rep) will present more Filipino stories in 2024, including an original jukebox musical featuring the music of Jose Mari Chan and a musical adaptation of a children’s short story on Philippine folklore.

It will also be Rep’s first season away from its longtime home, Greenbelt 1’s Onstage Theater, which is closing its doors in January. Rep will instead mount its productions at RCBC Plaza’s Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, in Makati.

“We all know why it’s been dark the past four years. Though Rep has actually managed to keep afloat with one production every year, this rabbit hole of darkness is over. We are emerging bigger, better, and stronger than ever,” Mindy Perez-Rubio, Rep’s chief executive officer and president, told the press on Dec. 4 at the Onstage Theater.

On presenting Filipino stories, she explained that, after 56 years, 86 seasons, and 462 productions, it is about time Rep championed local theater.

“We definitely want to tap millennials and Gen Z, and that is why we are going this direction. It is also something we need to cultivate because Rep has only had around three original productions. Now, we’ll have two more,” she said.

Rep will stage four productions in 2024, each targetting a particular market and tackling love in different ways.

Opening the season is Betrayal, one of the best-known plays of British theater icon and Nobel Prize winner for Literature Harold Pinter. The story employs a reverse-chronological structure to examine the consequences of an extramarital affair on three complex individuals. Directed by London-based actor and theater director Victor Lirio, it also stars London-based Filipino actors James Bradwell, James Cooney, and Vanessa White.

Concurrent with the production’s run in March is The Bridge Project, a skills exchange program where Betrayal’s Filipino-British director and actors will hold free masterclasses, lectures, and readings for local theater practitioners.

Betrayal will run from March 1 to 17.

Next is the second longest-running Off-Broadway musical, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, written by Joe Di Pietro (book and lyrics) and Jimmy Roberts (music). It is a series of vignettes on love and relationships between singles, wallflowers, urbanites, seniors — you name it — all played by a cast of four. It will be directed by Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, with Ejay Yatco as musical director and Joey Mendoza as set designer.

“It tackles everything people thought about dating and marriage, lovers, and in-laws, but were just too afraid to confront and admit,” Ms. Lauchengco-Yulo said of the story at the press conference,

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change will run from June 7 to 30.

Rep’s third production of the season will be a Repertory Theater for Young Audiences (RTYA) offering, Jepoy and the Magic Circle. An adaptation of the children’s short story “The Magic Circle” by Philippine literature icon Gilda Cordero-Fernando, the light-hearted musical is all about Filipino folklore. It centers on Jepoy and his dog, Galis, as they enter the whimsical balete world to attend a tikbalang wedding and befriend kapres, aswangs, and tiyanaks. Directed by RTYA creative director Joy Virata, the adaptation will be written by Rody Vera with music and lyrics by Ejay Yatco.

“RTYA stuck to well-known fairytales as we built our audience. What Rep knew was Western theater, and that’s what we developed,” Ms. Virata said, on why do a local story now after all this time. “It takes a long time to do a musical. It’s fate that I found Ejay and Rody so we could finally do this.”

As for its differences from an existing adaptation of the story by Dulaang UP called Umaaraw, Umuulan, Ikakasal ang Tikbalang, Mr. Vera added: “Like how Grimm’s fairytales can be very grim, Filipino folk creatures are material for horror but also relatable and fascinating to young people. We will introduce these characters in a different light, with ballet and stage lighting.”

Jepoy and the Magic Circle’s show dates will be announced later.

Finally, Rep 2024 will cap off the season with Going Home to Christmas, an original jukebox musical featuring the music of Jose Mari Chan, whose name has become synonymous with Christmas. It will be directed by Leo Rialp and written by Robbie Guevara, Luna Griño-Inocian, and Joel Trinidad, with additional scenes by Cathy Azanza-Dy.

Though the story is still being written, Ms. Griño-Inocian teased that it centers on relationships — between father and son, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend. “It is set in an airport because everyone is going home for Christmas,” she said. “It’s sort of like Love Actually except it’s very Pinoy in sentiment and a lot of the stories will sound familiar.”

Going Home to Christmas will run from November to December, in time for Christmas in 2024.

For updates, show schedules, ticket inquiries, and season passes, visit, and repertoryphilippines on Facebook and Instagram. — Brontë H. Lacsamana