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‘M. Butterfly’ PH tour opens in Iloilo today

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Producers Jhett Tolentino and RS Francisco are re-staging the Tony award-winning play “M. Butterfly” but to a wider audience this time via a Philippine tour.

Aside from mounting it in Manila, the play will go to Iloilo, Dumaguete, Cebu, Davao, and Baguio.

(FROM LEFT): Jhett Tolentino, RS Francisco, and Aira Igarta

(FROM LEFT): Jhett Tolentino, RS Francisco, and Aira Igarta

Recall that “M. Butterfly” last year benefitted charitable organizations with various causes.

“We’ve donated a little over 11 million pesos to 27 charities nationwide that time,” Jhett shared. “We give it to organizations mainly geared towards the performing arts, education, LGBTQ, and also the church, schools, women’s and children’s right, the environment, as well as to farmers in Palawan and to an art gallery in Baguio.”

“M. Butterfly” won several trophies at Aliw Awards including Best Non-musical Production and Best Actor and Best Stage Director (Non-musical) for RS and Kanakan Balentagos, respectively.

“We thought we cannot just keep this (‘M. Butterfly’). This is such a gorgeous production and and there has been quite the clamor to do more. I personally want to push for audience development in this country, because it’s not just Metro Manila that we have to focus on,” he added.

From today to Feb. 17, “M. Butterfly” will be in Iloilo; Feb. 28 to March 3 in Dumaguete; March 14 to 17 in Cebu; March 28 to 31 in Davao; May 8 to19 in Manila; and May 30 to June 2 in Baguio.

Jhett estimates the tour would have an “economic impact of at least 100 million pesos.”

“M. Butterfly,” written by David Henry Hwang, is a classic masterpiece drama inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly” which is loosely based on events surrounding a 1986 espionage trial about a mysterious Chinese opera singer and a French diplomat.

Jhett expressed his gratitude to RS for being “such a great partner” in pushing the play despite that it is “not a profitable venture.”

Aside from RS, his understudy last year, Aira Igarta, will now join him as alternative Song Liling. The former said that the latter told him boldly that he wanted to do the role.

“I saw how much Aira really wanted to do Song Liling so I told Jhett, ‘I think one show is not enough (for Aira).’ So, in the end, we split it squarely, 50-50. Half of the time you’ll see me doing Song Liling, the other half it’s Aira.”

RS also asked to have the poster layout changed so that Aira’s name is a prominent as his.

“I believe Aira has the same dedication, the same craft, the same passion, the same everything,” he said. “So, why shouldn’t he get the same billing?”

Another new thespian on board is Jenine Desiderio, who takes over the role from Pinky Amador.

Other actors that will also reprise their roles in “M. Butterfly” are Olivier Borten, Lee O’Brian, Maya Encila, to name a few.

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