The resounding success of the musical “M Butterfly” written by Chinese-American playwright David Henry Hwang and performed onstage by awarded actor RS Francisco at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) last week will realize a national tour this 2019.
The visual theatre treat will again be produced by Fil-American writer, actor and filmmaker Jhett Tolentino and Frontrow Entertainment.
This was announced by the production’s publicist Joselito “Toots” Tolentino in an email message to this writer recently.
RS will reprise the role of Song Liling, the Chinese opera singer who disguised himself as a female, the apple of the eye of a French diplomat Rene Gallimard, seduced and enamored him to milk out information from the French envoy during the Cold War and passed them on to the Chinese government of Mao Tse Tung placing the Western political power in jeopardy. Gallimard was charged with espionage and Song soon eventually let the freedom soar in wild abandon.
In this Philippine tour, however, RS will be under studied by Aira Jay Igarta who was also a stand-in as Soon during the last main production. Aira Jay also portrayed a Kurogo during the same run.
Like Francisco, Igarta is a stage and film actor who graduated from the Theater Arts Program of UP Diliman where he took part in several Dulaang UP and Dulaang Laboratoryo productions. According to the Manila Bill of “M Butterfly,” Aira Jay was trained by the likes of Tony Fabella and Luther Perez. He was originally a dance and voice scholar at Quezon City Performing Arts Foundation or QCPAFI.
Although, the invitation to the presscon on February 4, 2019 of the national tour didn’t mention a director of the mobile theatre, not a few are wanting that the same one will at the helm of the project—Kanakan Balintagos, also known as Aureaus Solito (“Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros,” “Pisay,” “Busong,” “Baybayin,” Tuli,” “Esprit de Corps” etc). Mostly, in re-runs, though, the original director also takes charge of the repeats however mobile.
Nothing was also mentioned of the same cast in last September gigs but with the many talented stage artists of the country, the national tour will be a great experience for people especially in the countryside although most of the venues are city-based like Iloilo (February 14-17); Dumaguete (February 28-March 3); Cebu (March 14-17); Davao (May 28-31); Manila (May 8-19) and Baguio (May 30-June 2).
An outreach program like this will surely spread cultural consciousness and goodwill among the Filipino people.
The LGBBT community must be one of the more active participants in the success of the musical.