The stage production of the film classic Maynila Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag The Musical proudly revealed its lead cast, comprised of world class performers Arman Ferrer will be playing Julio Madiaga while Shiela Valderrama-Martinez and Lara Maigue will be alternating as Ligaya Paraiso.
Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag The Musical is based on the Edgardo Reyes novel and inspired by National Artist for Film Lino Brocka’s classic adaptation.
Bringing it to life on stage are Joel Lamangan (Director), Von de Guzman (Musical Director), Jose Victor Torres and Em Mendez (Libretto), Joey Nombres (Lights Designer), Douglas Nierras (Choreographer), and Jun Flavier Pablo (Production Design). Fullhouse Asia Productions, Inc. serves as line producer.
Last seen as Emilio Aguinaldo in Nicanor Tiongson's critically acclaimed Steampunk Musical Mabining Mandirigma which won him the PHILSTAGE GAWAD BUHAY 2015 award for Best Featured Male in a Musical, Ferrer is a classical singer, a musical theater actor, and a choral conductor. He has played lead roles with Tanghalang Pilipino, Tanghalang Ateneo, and Dulaang UP.
Ferrer has been a featured soloist of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and The ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also worked with the top conductors in the country such as Gerard Salonga, Josefino Chino Toledo, Jonathan Velasco, Eudenice Palaruan, Mark Anthony Carpio, and Herminigildo Ranera.
Clinching the coveted role of Julio, said Ferrer, wasn’t a walk in the park. “It wasn’t an easy audition,” he recalled. “There was an intense dancing piece that we had to learn the same day and I must admit that dancing isn’t my forte.”
Ferrer knows that Julio Madiaga, the rural hero of Maynila who goes to the big city to find his beloved Ligaya Paraiso is not just any other role. "There is always excitement when you are asked to play a lead role. It's always fun but there is also a big responsibility attached to it. Every time I play the lead role I make sure that I play it sincerely. I cannot allow my portrayal to be shallow and pedestrian. So I study the character as much I can in order for me to portray him as close to the truth as possible."
Ligaya Paraiso is decidedly a tragic character, a young woman lured to find a better life in Manila only to end up mired in the oldest profession in the world. Shiela Valderrama-Martinez brings her vast theater experience to the role. “Every role is a challenge. It is such an honor to play a part that was portrayed by the great Hilda Koronel in the movie adaptation.”
In a career that spans 25 years and counting, Valderrama-Martinez has won citations as Best Actress in a Musical and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and Best New Female Recording Artist in the prestigious Awit Awards.
She just finished doing 50 Shades The Musical Parody, and reprised the role of Kapitana Mary Jane in the 2016 rerun of the Filipino hit musical RAK of Aegis where she was nominated Best Actress in a Featured Role in the 2016 Gawad Buhay Awards.
Young soprano Lara Maigue also writes songs and has been in different parts of the world doing solo cultural concerts. A graduate of the UP College of Music, Maigue has appeared on television as one of the lead stars of TV5’s musical serye Trenderas.
Ligaya Paraiso, shared Maigue, is her “most mature role” to date. “I would always play the little girl in operas and an ingénue on TV so Maynila heralds that it is time to sort of grow up in the roles that I take on.”
Tapped to play the other important characters in the musical are Floyd Tena (Pol), Noel Rayos (Atong), Rafa Seguion-Reyna, and Joseph Puducay (Imo), Aicelle Santos and Rita Daniela (Perla), Jim Pebanco/ Joseph Billezar (Mr. Balajadia), Khalil Kaimo (Gido), Jeffrey Camanag (Omeng), Romcel Binquis (Benny), Randy Rey (Frank), and Dulce and Ima Castro alternating as Mrs. Cruz.
At its very core, Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag The Musical is about love that will go the distance, both literally and figuratively. It is also about the loss of innocence and why in a dark, downtrodden jungle that is the big city, pure love is not given room to grow and thrive. It is set to soaring music and meticulously-choreographed dance.
Maynila Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag The Musical performances are slated on September 30, 3 pm and 8 pm (Gala), October 1, 2017, 3 pm and 8 pm October 4, 2017 8 pm, October 5, 2017 8 pm, October 6, 2017 3 pm and 8 pm
The beneficiary of the musical is Gantimpala Theater Foundation, the company that spearheaded the National Artist Production Series in which short stories and plays written by National Artists for Literature and Theater are produced for the stage for people to enjoy and appreciate the artistic contributions and legacies of these Filipino literary and theater legends.