Meet Filipinos who danced with The Muppets

Posted at 03/30/2014 8:34 AM
Rhoda Montemayor photographed by Peter Bartlett and Julius Ebreo by Gary Sherwood.

LONDON - The Muppets are back in our screens this month with the latest installment of its popular film franchise. And this time around, Filipino performers from England had the rare opportunity of working with the world's most famous puppets.

Following its successful revival with "The Muppets" from 2011, the rowdy characters return to the cinema with "Muppets Most Wanted", starring Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell.

The film promises its usual dose of mad antics, as Miss Piggy and the team embark on a European tour that goes awry when they become involved in a heist masterminded by a Kermit look-alike.

Among the highlights are musical numbers expected from the Muppets and along with a host of performers joining them on screen this year are UK-based Filipinos Julius Ebreo and Rhoda Montemayor.

Ebreo, who once performed for the British Royal family at Buckingham Palace, and Montemayor, who starred in hit TV shows like Power Rangers and Eigen Kweek, are among the dancers in some of the lively musical scenes from the film.

“It’s a very memorable experience. The ensemble of dancers and actors that they chose are very unique and talented,” Ebreo told ABS-CBN Europe.

He added, “Everything is in a massive scale with major films, so arriving on set is overwhelming, and you can imagine the amount of people working behind the scenes. You can see that everybody there means work and business.”

The film, directed by James Bobin who is known for cult hits like “Flight of the Concords” and “The Ali G Show”, was shot in Pinewood Studios near London at the beginning of 2013.

“There are loads of waiting around on set,” Ebreo shared. “Plus we shot it during winter in London so some outside shots are just crazy. Dressing gowns are stationed in-between shots, especially with my kind of costume.”

That said, the seasoned performer, who previously performed with Queen’s Brian May as part of the original touring cast for hit musical “We Will Rock You”, admitted that working with the famous puppets was an “honor”.

“I was mesmerized as soon as the Muppets were on the set,” he revealed. “The people behind the Muppets are incredible puppeteers. Even out of camera, they will still be in character which is super cool. It’s an honor to see Miss Piggy swinging in her trapeze with the whole Muppets doing their thing in front of us.”

He also added he felt “at home” on set of the Disney film, revealing he previously worked with the brand as an original cast member for Hong Kong Disneyland’s Festival of The Lion King, where he worked for two years.

Originally from Pampanga in the Philippines, Ebreo is now based in Leeds in northern England, where he runs his own talent agency, BE Artisan, after deciding to start semi-retirement from professional performance in 2012. He is also a choreographer and faculty member of various education institutions, including the University of Leeds.

Montemayor, on the other hand, was born and bred in London. She recently starred in the award-winning Belgian TV series, “Eigen Kweek”, where she played a ground-breaking role written specifically as an overseas Filipino character. Best known for her portrayal of Pink Ranger in the popular series “Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive”, she was recently seen in British independent film “The Knot”, starring alongside Noel Clarke and Mina Suvari.

“Muppets Most Wanted” is out now in cinemas.