KATIPS is a Musicale depicting the dynamic tale of love and sacrifice amidst the uproar and wide mass desolation. Apparently, the love story crosses the threshold of a historical back draft.

It is about the lives of distinct individuals during the dark era of Philippine history in the 1970s. Greg is an Editor of their school organ, Lara is a new balikbayan student, Panyong is a principled over-staying college student and Alet is known the new Tandang Sora. The students showed strengths which proved their courage in expressing their disgust to the government. But fear embraced them when three of their fellow activists were kidnapped. It’s surprising though that Lara continued the fight, the person least expected to show concern for his fellowmen because she was raised and born in the United States. Lara proved to the world that love for country starts with an honest acceptance of one’s self. The rest of the characters will accept victory upon the end of dictatorship. But the fight goes on.

Katips will show the unique language, fashion and culture in the 70s. But more important than the superficial factors, the musical will show the young people’s desire to effect change in the society during that era. This murky period of history is elusive in our history books or rarely discussed in the classroom. But it is a social blunder to totally disregard the lessons of the past. Hence, this musical has an objective of educating the young audience with the use of music, a universal language that binds us all.


This Filipino Musicale will be accompanied by a live band. The costume, props, set design will also be colorful and authentic to the times. The play to be presented by the Foundation is educational and with a spectacular production value. The cultural importance and creativity of their stage presentation will benefit the audience in the development of their historical learning and artistic exposure.


Four- time Aliw awardee, Three-time Broadway World Awardee and Outstanding Manilan Vincent M. Tanada directs the play and wrote its libretto exclusively for sole-exhibition right of Philippine Stager Foundation a non-stock, non-profit theater company he founded 15 years ago. Production Management is by Jeffrey Ambrosio, Marketing and Publicity by Chris Lim , Musical Direction by Pipo Cifra, Choreography by Gerald Gimarino, Lights Design by Art Gabrentina and Costume Design by Emy Tanada. The Musical stars more than Thirty PSF Homegrown talents and assisted by more than 15 Technical and Production Crew.


The story, concept and language can be understood and appreciated by all ages (General Patronage) with a running time of Two (2) Hours.

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OBRA NI JUAN 

THEATER REVIEWS 

The PhilStagers newest musical play once again returns to the late 19th century to tell the story of the Philippine Revolution from the point of view of another one of its heroic protagonists -- the celebrated painter Juan Luna. Most of us know Juan Luna only for his spectacular 4.2 m x 7.6 m masterpiece -- the "Spoliarium" -- which is now hanging in its own special hall inside the National Museum. We frankly know nothing much more about him other than that beautiful gold medal-winning painting. It is time we knew more.

In an inventive and bold twist of storytelling genius, Atty. Vince Tanada brings us inside the disturbed psyche of Juan Luna as he argued within himself about key decisions and events of his life, both celebratory and tragic.  While this potentially controversial two-in-one characterization style (the genteel artist vs. the volatile cad) can cause confusion for the viewers at first, this novel approach also made us gain a unique understanding of the artist and his state of mind. I marveled at how Atty. Tanada was able to create such an imaginative manner of telling what could have been a straightforward dry history lesson.


Vince Tanada, Cindy Liper and Patrick Libao

The two stalwart lead star actors of the PhilStagers, Patrick Libao and Vince Tanada himself, portray these two disparate personalities within Juan Luna, known here as Juan Luna 1 and Juan Luna 2. Libao is making a comeback of sorts since he took a year-long leave from the company. It was as if he never left at all as everything he did was on point. Tanada is consistent with his signature acting and singing style that earned him a lot of devoted young fans over the years. His singing vocal range seems to be expanding with his every show -- impressive. (Kenneth Sadsad and Chin Ortega alternate as JL1 and 2.)

Juan Luna's story could not be told without including his group of friends in Spain with him -- namely, best friend Jose Rizal (Johnrey Rivas), propagandist Marcelo H. del Pilar (JP Lopez), brother-in-law Trinidad Pardo de Tavera (Kenneth Sadsad), and his hot-headed younger brother Antonio Luna (Jomar Bautista). The story of brotherhood of these Filipino illustrado indio intelligensia in Spain had never been told in a more vibrant way. Their boyish antics together played well to thrill the ladies in the audience. 


Trinidad Pardo de Tavera (Kenneth Sadsad), Antonio Luna (Jomar Bautista), and MH del Pilar (JP Lopez) talk about Jose Rizal  (Johnrey Rivas in background)

While all four of them had their own moments to shine, an inordinate amount of time was given to Jose Rizal, his despair about Leonor Rivera (Judyy Tolentino) and his love triangle with Antonio Luna and Nellie Boustead, even his incarceration and execution. These side stories did take the play on a significant detour away from the main Juan Luna thread. However, I did not mind the side trip because it featured the ballad "Ako na Lang," which I thought was the best and most memorable song of the whole show. 

Johnrey Rivas had a strong stage presence as Rizal, and he also gets to sing his own arias. His strong singing voice is a pleasant surprise. Jomar Bautista, who looked like a heftier Enrique Gil from afar, was an excellent Antonio Luna, both as youth and as general. Rutchel Leonor plays the girl which came between their friendship, Nellie, and she certainly projected so well why the two heroes are crazy about her. Her crystalline singing voice is certainly another one of her virtues. 


Liper, Adele Ibarrientos and Sadsad
as the Pardo de Tavera family in happier times

One of the best-executed scenes as staged was that about the biggest scandal attached to Juan Luna's name -- the murder case involving his wife Paz Pardo de Tavera and his mother-in-law Juliana. The two stalwart lead actresses of the PhilStagers, Cindy Liper and Adele Ibarrientos, portray these two ill-fated women. Director Tanada again stages this sensational episode with the characters involved with only a stand-alone door and doorway prop between them. The dark and loud musical score in this scene certainly gave this outstanding scene a heart-pounding air of insanity, tension and violence. (Vean Olmedo and Rutchel Leonor alternate as Paz and Juliana.)

Juan Luna's artistic oeuvre not only served as the backdrop of the stage, but also played important roles within the story being told. The "Spoliarium" had a whole production number on its own, with the ensemble portraying the gladiators and the townspeople gathered around them as depicted in the painting. There was another nice scene where four ladies behind colorful frames told the story behind four other Luna works ("Las Damas Romanas," "Despues del Baile," the sublime "Tampuhan" (a personal favorite painting of mine) and "La Muerte de Cleopatra"). The subjects behind his "Mi Hijo Andres" and "The Parisian Life" came to life on stage.


A moment of restful calm with Ina (Vean Olmedo) and the 2 Juans (Libao and Tanada)

"Obra ni Juan" is a 2 hour show without an intermission. Unlike most previous PhilStagers plays which were more immediately accessible, it took time for me to get into the groove of this given the more challenging novel approach it took in telling its story. (No wonder they told the audience to "open your mind" during the opening remarks.) However, once I got on, the rest of the ride was engaging and entertaining. A lot of the tried-and-true signature PhilStagers gimmicks in acting, choreography and humor were still very much there to effectively capture the attention of their youthful audience. Passion overflows in all scenes.

Kudos to director-writer-lyricist Atty. Vince Tanada, musical director-composer Pipo Cifra and the rest of the cast and crew! Special mentions go to Jeff Ambrosio (Production Manager and Set Designer), Art Gabrentina (Technical Director), Gerald Magallanes (Choreographer), Emy Tanada (Costume Designer), and John Paul Santos (Stage Manager).for their valuable behind the scenes work.


Johnrey Rivas, Libao, Tanada and Bautista take their bows

After a month's worth of soft opening shows, tonight's Grand Opening of "Obra ni Juan" was held in Cinema 9 of SM North EDSA, 6pm. Tickets cost P300 for regular patrons. This show will be touring in various Metro Manila and provincial venues. Check out the PhilStagers FB page (LINK) for more details about future shows.
 

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Hailed all its plays as spectacular, well-polished and innovative. The Aliw Awards, the only award-giving body in the country honoring live performances, has recognized for numerous times its various stage plays and musicales, as well as its Director and Cast Members. The Broadway World.com also recognized PSF as Philippines’ best theater group.

But PSF is not just an ordinary performing group.  It is a Foundation with an objective of helping the poor, the sick, the elderly and the forgotten through the medium of theater arts.  At present, the foundation has more than 200 High School and College Scholars.  Aside from its very active Scholarship Program, the foundation is consistently handling absolutely free Summer Theatre Workshop with more than 200 participants from various schools in the country.  For its regular season runs, the Foundation has also organized outreach activities at various charitable institutions such as Golden Acres Home for the Aged, Servants of Charity, National Center for Mental Health and Reception Study Center for Children.  Through this, Philippine Stagers Foundation is an artistic team with a purpose in the society.

BLOGS CORNER

Vince Tañada: the actor is a modern day patriot-By: Archie Liao

A more forceful objective of utilizing the arts not only in entertaining our youth audience but also in inspiring them and changing their lives for the better, hoping that I could be the start of a social transformation.

-Vince Tanada

PSF ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Third prize winner PSF educates and entertains their audiences through their values-oriented productions. Through PSF’s Theater with a Purpose project, aspiring theater performers are able to get free extensive acting workshops that discover and constantly polish their talent. The group is behind the successful staging of the acclaimed youth-oriented play “Ako si Ninoy: A Filipino Musicale.” 


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