Michael de Mesa out as Rep changes cast for 'Boeing'

Posted at 01/10/2013 5:25 PM | Updated as of 01/10/2013 5:25 PM
Michael de Mesa (right) and Michael Williams do a reading of the play "Boeing Boeing" during the press conference of Repertory Philippines' 2013 season last October at Onstage in Makati. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA, Philippines – Film and theater actor Michael de Mesa will no longer star in Repertory Philippines’ production of the ‘60s sex comedy “Boeing Boeing,” which opens the theater company’s 2013 season later this month.

De Mesa was originally announced as the star of the Marc Camoletti play opposite Rep regular Michael Williams when the theater company announced its 2013 season last October.

Williams is also no longer involved in “Boeing Boeing,” which is set to open on January 25 at Onstage in Greenbelt, Makati City.

Instead, Rep on Thursday announced that “Boeing Boeing,” a 2008 Tony Award winner for Best Play Revival, will star David Bianco, who will take over de Mesa’s role, while Topper Fabregas will replace Williams.

The play will still be directed by Miguel Faustmann.

Rep didn’t say what prompted the cast change, although theater insiders believe this was the result of the departure of Rep veteran Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as the company’s associate artistic director last month.

De Mesa was supposed to play Bernard Whitford, an American architect-playboy living in Paris who juggles his affair with three stewardesses “who touch down briefly but lovingly in his apartment between flights,” while Williams was originally cast as the “unworldly” Robert, Bernard’s boyhood friend, who had just arrived from Wisconsin.

Last October, de Mesa and Williams even did a reading of a scene from the play at a press conference for the new season.

Although de Mesa has appeared in numerous theater shows, mostly with Atlantis Productions, “Boeing Boeing” would have been his first time with Rep.

De Mesa said at the time that it was Lauchengco-Yulo who convinced him to do the play for Rep. “It’s also an opportunity to share the stage with the great Michael Williams,” the actor said.

His replacement, Bianco, won raves for his performance as a born-again homosexual in Rep’s staging of “Next Fall” last year, while Fabregas showed his comic flair in last year’s “Leading Ladies,” also for Rep.

Baby Barredo returns

Meanwhile, Rep announced that veteran actress Baby Barredo, who is also the company’s artistic director, will make her stage comeback in the comedy.

Barredo will play the role of Bertha, Bernard's long-suffering housekeeper who is a “chic, black-clad philosopher, a French existentialist maid who loves nothing more than to complain.” Joy Virata will alternate in the role.

Barredo was last seen onstage in the classic “A Portrait of The Artist As Filipino.”

Also in the cast of “Boeing Boeing” are Giannina Ocampo, Carla Dunareanu and Jen Bianco as the three stewardesses.

Dunareanu, who is more known to Filipino fans as the girlfriend of singer-actor Christian Bautista and a castmember of the pan-Asian TV hit “The Kitchen Musical,” plays Gretchen, a “hilarious, aggressive, dominating but thin-skinned” German flight attendant.

“Boeing Boeing” runs until February 17.