After being part of the revival of the Pinoy movie classic Bituing Walang Ningning earlier this year, Mark Bautista returns on stage as part of Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific in Concert to be held on September 12 and 19. The talented performer admitted he enjoyed being part of the stage version of the ‘80s blockbuster hit which became controversial after original cast member Cherie Gil demanded they remove an iconic line from the musical.
“It was actually shocking for me. Feeling namin parang nag quiet ng production namin tapos biglang may news na ganun, na may reaction na ganun from one of the original cast. Kami naman tinitingnan namin yung other side of it. So parang naging malaking tulong sa Bituing Walang Ningning dahil in one way or another na-promote pa. Some people thought it was staged or it was planned pero pumasok siya as buzz so nagpapasalamat kami kay Ms. Cherie Gil. We're doing a re-run sa October. Same cast pero may idadagdag na ensemble, may binago sa script so it will be some sort of a new Bituing Walang Ningning,” he shared during the South Pacific in Concert presscon held last August 17 at Passion restaurant in Resorts World Manila.
In South Pacific in Concert, Mark was handpicked to play the role of an American army man. “When they told me that I would be part of this show that's the time na nag-research ako at at saka pa ako naghalungkat sa YouTube kung ano ba yung South Pacific tapos nalaman ko maganda pala yung story. My role is Lt. Joseph Cable and pinadala ako sa isang island para sa isang mission para magspy sa mga Japanese sa isa pang island dun kung anong time darating yung mga battleships nila and then to send the message sa US Navy. And then na-in love ako sa local na girl na Tonkinese na si Anne,” he recalled.
Despite having been doing theater even before he moved to Manila, Mark said he still gets stage jitters up to now. “All the time. Bituing Walang Ningning was my fourth theater production. This one is parang concert style pa nga. But still, musical form na parag andun pa rin ang story and gagawin pa rin namin ang speaking lines. Kinakabahan pa rin ako and I still get excited every show. Singing-wise, lagi kong chini-check yung sarili ko. Nung binigay sa akin yung role, sinabi ko kung kaya ko ba yung songs? Kasi kung hindi ko kaya hindi ko talaga gagawin. Nung high school ako nag-te-teatro ako sa Cagayan de Oro. I joined the community theater pero Bisaya pero never ko in-expect na magkaroon ng career sa theater sa Manila. Talagang blessing lang lahat. Unang production sa akin was Noli Me Tangere because of direk Audie Gemora. Siya yung tumulong talaga sa akin na pumasok sa teatro. And then after that Full Monty which was another challenging role kasi English and I had to bare my all and the songs were really hard. After that nag-audition ako sa Here Lies Love na wala akong idea actually kung saan ako dadalhin,” he shared.
The 32-year-old actor-singer says his stint in London really paved the way for him to be more confident on stage. “Akala ko lang it was one of those productions sa abroad na show show lang pero nung natanggap na ako at nalaman ko na wow sa National Theater pala, big production, everyday yung shows, Sunday lang yung pahinga and for six months yun lang yung gagawin ko. Talagang career ko siya. It was really a career for me when I was there so sabi ko, 'Okay itong production na ito dadalhin ako kung saan man. May plano yata si Lord,'” he said.
Even with his growing list of accomplishments in theatre, Mark clarified that he is not saying goodbye to acting on television anytime soon. “Nakakatuwa kasi parang sunod sunod lang yung sa teatro siguro iki-credit ko yan sa nung nag-London ako sa Here Lies Love. After that timing na sa Pinas yung musical theater eh grabe na ang appreciation ng mga Pinoy especially Filipino productions. Malawak na yung pag-intindi nila sa mga musical theater and dumami na rin yung mga production. Theater for me is parang fallback ko but I'm not turning my back on television kasi dun ako nag-start. Mahal ko rin yun kahit papaano kasi doon ko nakilala yung mga fans ko at dun ako nakilala ng mga fans ko. Malaki rin ang naitulong ng TV sa akin. Sa commercials, endorsements and doing concerts abroad. Ang daming natulong ng TV na hindi ko puwede isantabi. And theater is parang outlet ko na iba lang talaga ang gagawin ko. Para hindi ako masyado ma-saturate sa TV. It's a good thing na theater is nandiyan,” he shared.
Mark said he already has a wish list of roles he wants to portray for a live audience. “Meron akong dream role pero hindi ko alam kung bagay sa akin eh (laughs). I've always wanted to do Aladdin. Hindi ko alam kung bagay sa akin pero gusto kong gawin. I don't know, siguro sa lahat ng ginawa ko na heavy I feel like I want to do a light show and comic or something? Siguro the kid in me, since nasa musical theater na ako, I also want to do light musicals na for kids for fun,” he admitted.
Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific in Concert also stars Joanna Ampil, Ima Castro, John Meer Vera Perez as well 20 of the country's finest theater actors including Michael Williams, Red Concepcion, Hans Eckstein, and Raymund Concepcion. The musical is set concert style will be accompanied by The Manila Philharmonic Orchestra and directed by Manchu Lauchengco-Yulo and produced by Resorts World Manila in cooperation with Ultimate Shows, Inc. and Redstone Production.
Shows are pm September 12 and 19, Saturdays at 8pm at the Newport Performing Arts theater of Resorts World Manila. Tickets are now available at Ticketworld outlets and at the RWM Box Office. Visit www.rwmanila.com or call (632) 908-8833 for more details.