‘Ang Huling El Bimbo’ not limited to the hits of the Eraserheads

The cast and creative team behind the upcoming musical 'Ang Huling El Bimbo' during its recent press launch at Resorts World Manila (Photo by Edwin P. Sallan/Concept News Central)

The Apo Hiking Society had “I Do Bidoo Bidoo: Heto nAPO Sila”on the big screen while Aegis had “Rak of Aegis,” Francis M. had “3 Stars and a Sun,” and Sugarfree had “Sa Wakas” onstage.

It was only a matter of time before a jukebox musical based on the Eraserheads’ dozens of hits is created. And this year, it’s finally happening.

Starting July 20, Resorts World Manila is set to premiere “Ang Huling El Bimbo,” its 9th theater production, at the Newport Performing Arts Theater. Produced by Full House Theater Company, Inc. in cooperation with Ultimate Shows, Inc., the musical is a collaboration between playwright Dingdong Novenario, musical director Myke Salomon and director and choreographer Dexter Santos.

Told in two timelines, “Ang Huling El Bimbo” tells the story of three friends who have drifted apart in adulthood until fate reunites them to confront their haunted past. Headlining the musical are Gian Magdangal, Jon Santos, OJ Mariano, Reb Atadero, Topper Fabregas, Boo Gabunada, Sheila Francisco, and Tanya Manalang.

In an interview with Concept News Central, Novenario, who considers himself an Eraserheads fan, revealed that the musical will make use of about 20 to 40 of the band’s songs.

“Some are used about 80 percent, some are mashups, others are just a few lines. We chose the lines that would best fit the narrative of the story,” Novenario shared.

During the recent press conference that officially launched the musical, it was revealed that the most popular hits of the band dubbed as the Pinoy Fab Four like “Ligaya”, “Pare Ko”, “With a Smile”, “Alapaap”, “Overdrive”, and “Ang Huling El Bimbo” will be prominently featured.

But the band’s lesser known hits like “Poor Man’s Grave,” “Hard to Believe,” “Lightyears,” “Spoliarium,” and “Tama Ka” which Novenario admits to be among his personal favorites may likely be included as well.

The Eraserheads (Photo courtesy of Smart)
The Eraserheads (Photo courtesy of Smart)

“I grew up with their music and it’s always something you kind of come back to every now and then. Truly timeless,” he quipped.

Since the Eheads are fond of including certain names in their songs like “Toyang,” “Shirley,” “Julie Tearjerky,” Aling Nena in “Tindahan ni Aling Nena,” Jay in “Hey, Jay” Kim in “Sembreak,” and of course, Paraluman (referring to the legendary actress) in “Ang Huling El Bimbo” Novenario was asked if any of them are characters in “Ang Huling El Bimbo.”

His cryptic reply? “The names find their way into the musical. What’s fun to do is how, without necessarily having characters named after them.”

Discussing the musical further, Novenario further pointed out that “Ang Huling El Bimbo” is not your conventional ‘razzle-dazzle’ musical theater.”

“And I think that’s what makes it more exciting. What we have right now are stories about depression and people failing to communicate to each other, and these are a few things that will be tackled in this musical. After you come out of the theater, you begin to think about it and that’s when it really works,“ he added.

“With an original Pinoy script told through Filipino songs that really meant a lot to generations, this musical is very relatable to all those who have experienced profound friendships in their youth and learned so much from it,” Full House Theater Company artistic director Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo chimes in.

Regarding the casting, Novenario was asked if they ever considered the casting of real rock singers as in the case of “American Idiot” where Basti Artadi, Miggy Chavez and Jason Fernandez were among the leads, the playwright said the selection was based on who was right for a given character.

“If a rock artist would fit a character, why not? [But] I was there during auditions including readings where we screened for the leads. By that time we had our characters already, so we cast based on who fits these characters,” he further revealed.

As to whether or not the members of the Eraserheads themselves namely Ely Buendia, Raimund Marasigan, Buddy Zabala and Marcus Adoro were involved in the musical, it was revealed during the press conference that the producers discussed the matter with the publishers of the band’s music. The Eheads themselves had no participation in the project.

“Nope, haven’t heard from them,” was Novenario’s reply when asked if he had personally received any feedback from the band.

Tickets to “Ang Huling El Bimbo” are now available at the RWM Box Office and TicketWorld outlets. Visit www.rwmanila.com or download the RWM Mobile App for more updates.

Watch the featurette behind the conceptualization of “Ang Huling El Bimbo” here: