Tuesday, February 5, 2013


NVC's show poster
"What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play."

A day-old article celebrating the 40th year of the Academy Award-winning film version of the Broadway musical prompted us to listen to the Broadway Cast Recording of "Cabaret" by Kander & Ebb. Four long decades have passed since the iconic Liza Minneli starrer premiered on the silver screen and won 8 Oscars including Best Actress (Minneli),  Best Supporting Actor (Joel Grey) and Best Director (Bob Fosse) in 1973. The film was based on the original Broadway production in 1966, later on revived and reinterpreted by Sam Mendes in 1998.

Manila was very lucky to have witnessed the same dark and very risque version of Cabaret by Mendes as presented by New Voice Company. The strictly-for-adults-only show that culminated the theater group's 10th anniversary in 2004 featured some of Philippine theater's luminaries including Monique Wilson, Michael Williams, Jamie Wilson,  Joy Virata and Leo Rialp. Time flies so fast, you say, and probably wonder how the cast, co-directed by Rito Asilo, is doing after almost a decade since "working" at the Kit Kat Klub.

MONIQUE WILSON (Sally Bowles) - despite having diagnosed two years ago with chronic yet manageable blood cancer, she still teaches at East15 Drama School in London. She recently concluded a musical stint playing the strong-willed Anna Leonowens in "The King & I" for Resorts World Manila. Monique is still very active with her advocacy that supports the fight against violence towards women. She will be in Manila for "One Billion Rising" an event on February 14 to demand an end to violence. Her recent coming out and admission to the public that she is a gay woman was lauded by colleagues, friends and family because it will help those who are struggling with their sexuality.

MICHAEL WILLIAMS (Clifford Bradshaw) - He founded Theater Down South in 2007,  a very savvy theater company that caters to audiences in the Alabang and nearby areas. He recently played to raving audiences as the lead of Frank Wildhorn & Leslie Bricusse's musical tragedy, "Jekyll and Hyde" for Repertory Philippines. When he is not directing or acting on stage, he sings with a new super group called F.I.M. (Friends in Music) together with Jett Pangan, Rem Zamora, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Liza Robinson and Teenee Chan.

JAMIE WILSON (Emcee) - he continues to do theater both on stage as an actor or backstage as part of the creative/production team. He will reprise his role as Dennis Dupree in a repeat run of Atlantis Productions' "Rock of Ages" in July this year.

JOY VIRATA (Fraulein Schneider) - Tita Joy still steers the Repertory Children's Theater ship and will be staging Jim Eiler and Jeanne Bargy's "Alice in Wonderland" in August. She is currently playing the housekeeper in Rep's Boeing Boeing (alternating with Baby Barredo) - a more comedic year-opener compared to her memorable portrayals in 2012's "Care Divas" and "Mind's Eye".

LEO RIALP (Herr Shultz) - Leo is still active in theater as an actor and director. He will be in Floy Quintos' dark comedy, "Collection" with Dulaang UP which opens on February 13.

BONGGOY MANAHAN (Herr Shultz) - after Cabaret, he did several children's shows with Repertory Philippines including Mulan, Emperor's New Clothes and Aladdin. Tito Bonggoy is surely missed on stage.


LYNN SHERMAN (Fraulein Kost / Frenchie) - The last time we saw her was at the Miss Saigon auditions after being prompted by a theater friend to try out for the role of Ellen. She keeps herself busy doing lounge acts and might be leaving the country again for various singing stints. Her fans can catch her on Feb. 14 at Society Lounge in Makati City for a show called "Romantique Valentines".

JOHN MULHALL (Herr Ludwig) - this stage cutie who made audiences gush on stage or in the campus of International School Manila is now based in Hongkong where he is teaching at another international school while raising his young boy together with his Filipina wife.

ROSELYN PEREZ (Lulu, A Kit Kat girl) - Roselyn is working on "4Faith Series" for the adult-themed wing of Trumpets which she started with Jaime del Mundo about 2 years ago. It tries to tackle the issues that come with Faith,  such as morality, ethics and other controversial issues.

AMPARO SIETEREALES (Rosie, a Kit Kat girl) - she was last seen on the CCP stage playing Soorpanakha in a remake of the 70's hit ballet musical, "Rama Hari". She will be with Monique this Valentine's Day for "One Billion Rising".

PHEONA BARANDA (Helga, a Kit Kat girl) - after her stint in Hongkong Disneyland, and a couple of stage productions in Manila, Pheona now tours the world working in a luxury cruise ship.

JENNY JAMORA (Texas, a Kit Kat girl) - is a favorite acting coach of thespians. She has co-directed various productions and has appeared in several shows for Atlantis Productions. Last year, she played one of the leads in the play "Mind's Eye" with Joy Virata. She also appeared in the film "Ang Nawawala" which was an official selection for 2013 Slamdance Film Festival in Utah. She is currently in the planning stages of putting up a big project in partnership with theater friends.

LILY CHU (Frenchi, a Kit Kat girl) - this former model and DJ is now happily married to her Czech husband. She is pursuing an acting career in Prague and has already appeared in a couple of stage productions and television commercials.

TAMI MONSOD (Kit Kat Mama San) - During the run of Cabaret, Tami found out she was pregnant. Now she is a proud mom to her 7-year old boy, Enzo.

JOEL TRINIDAD (Bobby, a Kit Kat boy / Herr Ludwig) - the advertising-guy turned actor, playwright and director is also a sought-after lyricist after having written a couple of original Filipino musicals. His most recent collaboration with Ed Gatchalian and Jaime del Mundo for "Rivalry" the musical is getting a lot of attention and good reviews. "BroadwayWorld.com" also announced that his original play, "Witchslap" is one of the seven to be featured in a play festival by Love Creek Productions from February 8 to 10 in New York.

JAKE MACAPAGAL (Victor, a Kit Kat boy) - he is still a familiar handsome face in TV commercials and independent films. He recently played as the lead role in "Metro Manila", a film by Sean Ellis  which won the Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic at the Sundance Festival. He also wears a teaching hat as one of the faculty members of Mint College and instructor at ABS-CBN.

AMIEL MENDOZA (Hermann, a Kit Kat boy) - Aims is still a juggler, trying to balance the corporate life and stage work. After almost a year of performing as a gondolier at the Venetian Hotel in Macau, he is back to doing public relations work for various clients and handles event publicity for some lifestyle brands. Fueled by his passion and experience in theater, he occasionally teaches church kids who are not able to attend performance workshops.

ELNARD ARELLANO (Hans, A Kit Kat boy) - the cast's favorite "blender" is now a full time Information and Communications Officer with an NGO but he will be part of the celebrations in "One Billion Rising" together with other NVC talents.

APRIL CELMAR, RONA LOU SAN PEDRO, NIKKI VENTOSA (Ensemble) - These NVC babies are all grown up and are now career women. April is an Entry Clearance assistant of the British Embassy, Ronalou is in the travel industry and Nikki is now married and a working momma to two beautiful kids.

Yes... that last one made us feel really old. A lot have changed yet some are still quite the same. Well, that's life and who are we to question Sally Bowles' famous last words, "...from cradle to tomb isn't that a long a stay. Life is a Cabaret, old chum!"