Iya Villania, Nikki Valdez return to musical theater

Posted at 09/21/10 6:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Partly because of the dearth of films, movie and television projects, young stars and singers Iya Villania, Gian Magdangal and Nikki Valdez have embarked again in another medium to showcase their talents.

For the second time, they come together in a happy, startling and well-meaning Broadway musical theater, “The Wedding Singer,” since they starred in the youth-oriented, footsie stage song-and-dance drama, “Footloose,” some years back.

“The Wedding Singer,” the musical, is of course, an adaptation of the hit movie of the same title set in the 80s but filmed and released in the 90s starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

Magdangal plays the role of Robbie Hart, the wedding singer who is the toast of the town in New Jersey until his fiancee leaves him in the altar. Shot through the heart, according to PR man Toots Tolentino, Robbie makes every wedding he plays as disastrous as his own until Julia Sullivan (Villania), a waitress wins his affection but who is about to be married to a Wall Street shark. And nless Robbie can pull off the performance of the decade, the girl of his dreams will be gone forever.

Valdez takes on the role of Holly, Julia's bubbly, uninhibited and lovable cousin.

During the press launch recently, Iya was very high spirited, mixing with a cast of less than a hundred, throwing herself around literally, poking fun with some of her costars, moving comic and making faces.

“It is my pride to be chosen as the lead of the stage play. I really like theater so much,” said Villania.

Gian was also inspired to tackle the main protagonist. “It's not everyday that one is given a chance to do this kind of role,” Magdangal exclaimed.

When he did a duet as teaser with Iya on one of the original songs of the play, “Grow Old With You,” he was breathing life to the character early on.

We asked him if he also sing and say “Grow Old With You” to his dear Viva Hot Babe Sheree, he seemed to collect well his thoughts before he replied. “Of course, lahat ng duet na kinakanta ko, alam ni Sheree at kinakanta ko rin sa kanya. Itong 'Grow Old With You,' oo, kinakanta ko sa kanya,” he quipped to the delight of the cast seated in a single line before the media, production staff and guests.

Nikki was on top of the world as she is all agog doing theater again. “I am very privileged to do a musical like this. It was the usual singing and dancing I was asked when they got me to be part of this project,” informed the young actress.

As a matter of fact, it should have been quite a while when the three main artists had already done “The Wedding Singer” if not for the copyright problem of the play from Broadway.

“We actually were planning to stage 'The Wedding' some years ago with Iya and Gian in the lead. And of course, Nikki. But we had some problems with the permission to mount it here in the country. We still had to wait for its run to finally end in some parts of the United States,” revealed Robbie Guevarra, the musical's talented director and the producing organization 9 Works
Theatrical's Artistic Director.

Santi Santamaria, the Executive Producer, said Guevarra, was very pleased to have Iya as Julia at the time because her voice resembles that of the singer in the Broadway presentation but because they couldn't secure the permit on time, they had to settle yet on “Footloose.”

“Of course, we believe in Iya, Gian and Nikki long before so they are still the perfect main cast of 'The Wedding Singer',” Robbie added.

This time, however, equally versatile stage actress Sheila Valderama-Martinez, alternates with Iya.

Meanwhile, is there any way a Filipino touch is injected to the musical play to lend localizing and contextualizing approaches to foreign play to draw in more attention and interest on it like supplying a slice of Filipino culture on wedding and language?
“No. We stick to the contract. We stick to the original script except for one Filipino word in the play,” explained Guevarra.