OPM musical of our times

(From left) Vyen Villanueva as Bobby, Jef Flores as Jaime and Jon Abella as Donnie.

By: Pauline Songco

Back when American songs dominated the airwaves, APO Hiking Society diligently promoted Original Pilipino Music (OPM). The ‘80s group composed of Boboy Garovillo, Danny Javier and Jim Paredes made legacy with their songs “Panalangin,” “Blue Jeans,” “Batang Bata Ka Pa” and “Awit ng Barkada,” their music played to a worldwide audience.

“The goal we had was to write songs that would encapsulate the Filipino’s experience of love, friendship, humor, etc.,” says Paredes, “That is why people can relate to them. Lyrics were simple, but authentic. We avoided clichés. We used everyday language.”

At last, the music of Apo will be played in a musical, to be staged by Globe LIVE in partnership with 9 Works Theatrical. Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! Is a production featuring APO’s music on stage. Directed by Robbie Guevarra, the show will run from August 3 to 26 at the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theatre, at Bonifacio Global City.

Eto na! Musikal nAPO! is a romantic comedy that explores the story of seven friends who decide to join a songwriting and singing contest. It tells of their struggles with love, parents and studies, and the political issue that affected the whole country back then.

The show stars Mark Bautista, Jep Philippe Go, Jobim Javier, Al Fritz Blanche, Jef Flores, Jon Abella, Vyen Villanueva, Rita Daniela, Sab Jose, Marika Sasaki, Raul Montesa, Neomi Gonzales, Anton Posadas, Jourdan Bartolome, Gian Gloria, Shalee Vicencio, Peachy Guevara and Derrick Gozos.

“Twenty people have approached us to do the musical. They presented different scripts na, well, didn’t really quite excite us. Some never presented the script; they just wanted permission. But this is the first time that we actually seriously felt the intent effort to do something with our music. I talked to them and I realized that these are theater people, so I said yes definitely. I’m very excited about it, I attended the rehearsal and the way the songs are interpreted, situated in all of that, is very unexpected,” Paredes shared.

Director Robbie Guevarra wrote the story loosely based on the start of APO Hiking Society as college students at the Ateneo De Manila University. “You can expect historical and nostalgic references in the show for those of you who reached the ‘70s. And for those of you who didn’t reach the 70s, you can learn from it,” he said.

During the scriptwriting process, he shared that they would invite the members of APO to sit with them during the readings to foresee the development of the musical.

“Learning about this musical is really exciting for us because there is nothing more pleasant than to have your body of work through four decades be staged by a successfully known production company, and be given new life in a medium that we, as a group, have not quite immersed ourselves in,” says APO member Boboy Garrovillo.

Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! follows the success of Disney’s Newsies, A Christmas Carol and Green Day’s American Idiot. This local production will include 26 songs of APO, part of which will be “Pumapatak ang Ulan,” “Paano,” “Di Na Natuto” (popularized by Gary Valenciano), “Nakayakap sa Dilim,” “Tuyo Na ang Damdamin,” “Blue Jeans,” “Show Me a Smile,” “When I Met You,” “Lumang Tugtugin” and “Ewan,” the song which Louie Ocampo wrote.

“I really want the younger kids to watch it because I want them to see how cool your parents were, and how original they were, how life was so different back then,” Paredes says.

The songs are given a fresh twist that could surprise even the most dedicated fans, with new arrangements and lovely harmonies.

“The target of every theatrical piece like this is to delight and surprise. It will take you to a place you’ve never been and be amazed at that. That’s what I want this musical to be, something that you will invest your money on and just have great time. It’s a Filipino experience that took 49 years to make. This is a very unique proposition to all those who want to watch,” Paredes concludes.

Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! will be shown at Maybank Performing Arts Theater, Bonifacio Global City, on August 3 to 5, 10 to 12, 17 to 19 & 24 to 26, 2018, at 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.