“Rak Of Aegis” has enjoyed six seasons with more than 300 shows since 2014. So, when the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) announced the return of the Filipino musical phenomenon this year, many asked, “What’s new?”
The seventh season of the musical that brought OPM band Aegis even more to the spotlight, welcomes both seasoned artists and newbies to the cast. The “veterans” are Randy Santiago (as Fernan), Noel Cabangon (Kiel), Jenine Desiderio (Mary Jane), and Bayang Barrios. The young ones are Wish 107.5 Wishcovery 2018 1st Runner Up Kimberly Baluzo (Aileen); Leah Patricio from “The Voice Of The Philippines Season 2” (Mercy); GMA artist and singer Derrick Monasterio (Tolits); Viva artist and two-time PhilPop grand prize winner Yumi Lacsamana (ensemble); and Ashe Uy, Marynor Madamesila, Lemuel Silvestre, and Gerard Dy.
At a press conference, Derrick revealed why he joined the musical. Though he is better known as actor, the 23-year-old said singing has always been his strength.
“Since I’m not doing any teleserye at the moment, I think I have time to pursue this side of me,” he said. “When PETA announced the auditions, I seized the opportunity. I’m excited for this because I’m really a fan of ‘Rak Of Aegis.”’
Randy believes he’ll learn a lot from the experience.
“I’ve always told them (the team) I’m one text away. If they need me, I’m ready to lend a hand. Now that I’m here, I will always treasure this experience.”
What really makes “Rak Of Aegis 7” more exciting is the return of Aicelle Santos, fresh from her Gigi Van Trahn stint on “Miss Saigon’s” global tour.
Aicelle was the original Aileen when the show debuted in 2014. It continued with her in the principal role until the show’s fifth season in 2017, after which she left for her international stint. The sixth season in 2018 saw Kim Molina heading the musical.
The 34-year-old is delighted over her comeback.
“This show sparks joy in me,” Aicelle said. “It’s an honor to be here. But what I missed the most is the friendship, the family we built. I’m glad to be back.”
Many of the original cast also return this year. They are Isay Alvarez-Seña and Sweet Plantado-Tiongson (alternating for the Mary Jane role); Robert Seña and Renz Verano (Kiel); Kakai Bautista and Neomi Gonzales (Mercy); Myke Salomon, Poppert Bernadas, and Vince Lim (Kenny); Jerald Napoles, Pepe Herrera, and Joshua Bulot (Tolits); Ron Alfonso and Jimmy Marquez (Jewel); Gie Onida and Rody Vera (Fernan); and Gimbey Dela Cruz, Gab Pangilinan, Matel Patayon, Abi Sulit, Teetin Villanueva, Gold Villar-Lim, Paeng Sudayan, Roi Calilong, Gio Gahol, Carlon Matobato, and John Moran as members of the ensemble.
“Rak Of Aegis” features powerful hits like “Halik” and “Basang Basa Sa Ulan,” and these are arranged for the show by Myke Salomon. The musical was one of the first Filipino productions to have ushered in the trend of jukebox musicals. This led to greater appreciation for theater and original Pinoy music that reaches out to all kinds of audiences.
The musical is about Aileen, a young girl with a big voice who dreams of viral fame on YouTube and appearing as guest on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” While Aileen’s motives seem shallow at first, she would later reveal it is because she wants the world to know of her barangay’s condition. That is, submerged in flood for almost three months, with livelihood and health all drifting off with the waters.
This year, PETA “celebrates and pays tribute to Filipino music, performances, and artistry,” according to PETA Executive Director Beng Santos-Cabangon as she talked about their partnership with OPM and PhilPop.
“Pinoy music speaks of our culture and identity as Filipinos. It encapsulates our dreams and continues to inspire us to love and to hope,” she said. “In partnering with OPM and Philpop, we wish not only to recognize our wealth of Filipino songs and talents, but also impart to the audience how music, theater, and the arts can evoke our highest aspirations and bring out the best in our humanity.”
In a press release, OPM President Ogie Alcasid said, “A show like ‘Rak Of Aegis’ is an embodiment of what we have to do as Filipinos – suportahan, tangkilikin, at ipagbunyi po natin ang ating sariling musika.”
On top of that, show director Maribel Legarda shared they will hold busking sessions at the PETA lobby. It is an activity of playing music on the streets or in other public places for voluntary donations.
Maribel and musical director Myke will also join the PhilPop Songwriting Boot Camp 2019 team to share their expertise on creating original musical theater productions with “Rak Of Aegis” as case study.
“The music and performances will always be something to look forward to. When it’s there, you really learn to enjoy the humor and the heart and the music of it all,” she said.
“Rak Of Aegis” runs from July 5 to Sept. 29 at the PETA-Phinma Theater located at The PETA Theater Center, New Manila, Quezon City.