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Saturday, June 21, 2003


By Danny Vibas

Carlo Orosa to headline 
a new musical comedy

FILIPINO musical theater artists are again trying to make their presence felt, as if trying to steal the limelight from their more popular cousins, the so-called “pop idols.” Not that they don’t deserve acclaim and adulation; it’s just that pop artists are somehow more accessible to the masses. Then, too, pop artists are handled by promoters who are more adept with hype. It takes an inter­nationally-hyped West End or Broadway production for a Pinoy to be adored by kababayans. That’s how Lea Salonga, Leo Valdez and Robert Seña became household names.

Carlo Orosa as the Ugly 
Duckling in Trumpet’s
 forthcoming Honk!

US-based Pinoy musical theater artists Paolo Montalban and Jose Llana are in town to promote their Philippine-recorded albums. Both perform a mixture of pop songs and Broadway favorites. Both were also featured performers in the successful Broadway revival of The King and I. Paolo, though, has the advantage of having appeared in at least one US-made TV series that fortunately made it to the Philippines, namely, Mortal Kombat. He also appeared in a modern retelling of Cinderella on television, opposite singer Brandy, and which, again, fortunately, was shown on local TV. Thus, it is somehow easier to hype Paolo for mas­sive public adulation than it is for Jose.

Paolo was signed up by Vicor Music Corp. while Jose did his album for Viva Records. We hear that Viva Records artist Regine Velas­quez is set to do a duet with Jose for her next album.  If the song gets used as the album’s carrier single, it would surely boost the guy’s popularity in the country.  Meanwhile, some Vicor publicists have been trying to romantically link Paolo with Regine.

In contrast, Carlo Orosa once tried to bea pop star but he’s now fully focused on having a career in theater. He waxed a record once but at this point,  he admits he’s not going to be the next Gary Valenciano or Martin Nievera. But he may yet become as famous as Robert Seña.  Like the latter, Orosa is comfortable in both leading and supporting roles. He was praised for his performance as Nicodemus, the mermaid princess’ confidante in Trumpet’s Little Mermaid.

Happily, his time to play the lead has finally come. He gets to play the lead role as the Ugly Duckling in Trumpet’s next production, the musical comedy Honk!

But, wait, is Carlo capable of being funny?

Yes, especially on stage. He’s been doing impersonations of a wide range of personalities: from his fellow ex-Kundirana members Ogie Alcasid, Dingdong Avanzado, and Randy Santiago to Christopher de Leon and televangelists Wilde Almeda and Eddie Villanueva.

Honk! will be directed by Chari Arespacochaga and Audie Gemora who, when they saw the play in Singapore, both instantly decided that it can be staged in the Philippines with Carlo portraying the lead role.

“I can relate to the Ugly Duckling charac­ter. Because I often feel that way, and prac­tically everything I do is an attempt to turn myself into an adorable swan,” Carlo says

Honk! is slated to go on stage at Meralco Theater in August, with Franco Laurel alternating as Ugly Duckling.

Franco has finer looks than Carlo, but we’ve never seen him do comedy. Franco once appeared in a re-staging of Rama Sita at the UP Theater, but since then he has chosen to focus on pop. Carlo and Franco aren’t as popular as as Martin Nievera or Ogie Alcasid, but if Honk! becomes a box office hit, who knows, the two could be the first theater artists to hit the mainstream. We can perhaps even expect other Pinoy ex-pats who are quietly doing well in some theater companies in the US and elsewhere to come home and wow us. Maybe, Cynthia Onrubia, who choreo­graphed the dazzling dance numbers for the film version of Chicago, might come home one day and find Pinoy producers ready and willing to invest on her terpsichorean genius.


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Francis Andaya, Judee Perculeza, Marizhen Doctora, Shey Silayan
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