After directing five out of the seven installments of the “Mano Po” franchise about the different lives of Filipino-Chinese characters, director Joel Lamangan’s love for anything and everything Chinese has grown deep.
This time, he helms “Binondo: A Tsinoy Musical.” It is about Lily, a Filipina night club singer in pre-Martial Law Manila, and Ah Tiong, a mainland Chinese scholar returning to Cultural Revolution-era Beijing. They embark on a journey of great love and heartbreak that begins one fated, moon-lit night during the Mid-Autumn Festival of 1971 in the heart of Manila’s Chinatown.
Also in love with Lily is a local Chinese boy and childhood friend of hers, Carlos, who hides his feelings for her but eventually finds the courage to tell her about it. This makes the story a touching love triangle focusing on the different ways of giving and receiving love, full of heartbreaks and sacrifices while the Cultural Revolution rages on in Beijing.
The script is by acclaimed screenwriter Ricky Lee in collaboration with Gershom Chua and Eljay Deldoc. The story is based on a true story by Rebecca Shangkuan-Chuaunsu.
Joel recalled an instance when a Chinese approached him after the latter watched “Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag The Musical” which the former helmed and held at KIA Theatre last year.
“Tinawag niya ako, tinatanong niya ako bakit daw masama ang pagkaka-portray ko sa mga Chinese sa musical,” he said.
“Sabi ko hindi naman ako ang gumawa nu’n. I cannot make them good, kasi that’s in the novel,” he said. “So sabi niya ‘Gawa mo ako na mabait naman ang Chinese.’ Eh sayang naman so sabi ko ‘Sige.’”
It was the same person who suggested that Ricky be tapped as screenwriter since he is also Filipino-Chinese.
So, in “Binondo,” Joel highlights the positive contributions of Chinese people to the Filipino community. They willl also use famous Chinese songs and originals sung by Chinese singers and Filipinos who look like Chinese. It took a month for him to find them, Joel revealed.
The musical uses three languages – English, Tagalog and Chinese. Music and choreography by Von de Guzmán and Douglas Nierras. The powerhouse cast is comprised by Sheila Martinez, Carla Laforteza, David Ezra, Arman Ferrer, Noel Rayos, Floyd Tena, Ima Castro, Rita Daniela, Mariella Laurel, Lorenz Martinez, Franco Laurel, Tuesday Vargas, Ana Feleo, Jim Pebanco, Khalil Kaimo, Ashlee Factor, Kay Balajadia, Jennifer Villegas, Dondi Ong, Elizabeth Chua, Russell Magno, Ellrica Laguardia, and Rhapsody.
“Binondo: A Tsinoy Musical” will run at The Theatre Solaire from June 29 up to July 8.
Tags: Ah Tiong, Chinese singers, Chinese songs, Filipino-Chinese, Franco Laurel, Joel Lamangan, Law Manila, Manila Bulletin, Manila Bulletin Entertainment, mb.com.ph, Ricky Lee, Tsinoy Musical, ‘Tsinoy Musical’ holds special place in Joel Lamangan’s heart