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‘Maynila The Musical’: Theater event of the year

CLASSIC – Soaring songs and exuberant dances. Superb acting and inspired direction. Based on a timeless and powerful novel by Edgardo Reyes, “Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag,” made into a classic film by National Artist Lino Brocka, acclaimed all over the world.

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All that best describes the musical version of “Maynila,” a gathering of the some of the best stage artists led by director Joel Lamangan, who traces his roots to theater.

“Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag: The Musical” is the brainchild of Joel and Jun Pablo of Gantimpala Theater Foundation established by Tony Espejo, now on its 40th year.

ACTORS – Arman Ferrer reprises the role of Julio Madiaga, portrayed by Bembol Roco in the film. Lara Maigue and Sheila Valderrama-Martinez alternate as Ligaya Paraiso, played by Hilda Koronel.

Julio searches for Ligaya in Manila, amid its cement and steel jungle and glaring neon lights. He finds her in a house of prostitution in Chinatown, a victim of white slavery.

Direk Joel says the musical is told from the point of view novelist Reyes. It features the compositions (more than 20) of Von de Guzman and choreography of Douglas Nierras.

Also in the cast: Rafa Siguion Reyna, Floyd Tena, Noel Reyes, Joseph Puducay, Aicelle Santos, Rita Daniella, Khalil Kaimo, Jeffrey Camanag, Jim Pebanco, Romcel Binguis, Randy Rey, Ima Castro, and Dulce.

Now, with that line-up, “Maynila The Musical” has got to be the theater event of the year.

It’s the production of Grand Leisure Corp., with the support of Kia Theater, where the musical opens September 30, and runs until October 6.

A LA BROADWAY – At the recent media launch, excerpts were shown, three beautiful numbers…a la Broadway.

The first showed the entire cast in black singing and dancing on the perils of the city. It was followed by a most touching lament about the doomed love story of Julio and Ligaya. Last was the sweet promises of a woman recruiter to innocent provincial lasses… leading them to perdition.

Those three numbers alone promise a moving and enchanting two hours of “Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag: The Musical.”