Noli restaging in US reunites Negrenses

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

THE first restaging of Noli Me Tangere The Musical at the Aratani Theater in Los Angeles over the weekend became a reunion for many Negrenses who were either part of the show or came to watch it.

Three Bacolodnons were part of the cast and production: Joey Uytiepo, who played Elias, and the Espina sisters—Nenen and Mate’.

Nenen, who was initially in the US for the rehearsals as the musical director, had to fly back to take part in the Rigoletto at the CCP which was staged at the same time as Noli in the US.


Mate’ did the stage management and handled marketing and publicity for the group.

Uytiepo graduated high school from La Salle Bacolod in 1980 and even then, he was already known for his singing prowess. He used to perform in musicals while in high school and college and he saw the Noli as an opportunity to rekindle his love for music and theater arts.

Now based in Orange County, California, Uytiepo auditioned for the musical and was chosen to play the vital role of Elias in Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. His wife Peachie, also got involved with the production in the process as the head of Finance.

Uytiepo’s batchmates from La Salle Bacolod who are now residing in the US came in droves, wearing “Team Elias” shirts to give support to him.

The Espina sisters were original cast members of Noli and El Filibusterismo the musicals, when these were staged two decades ago at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Nenen originally played the role of Sisa and Dona Victorina. They were also part of its international tour in Japan.

Noli Me Tangere The Musical was created and directed by Nonon Padilla for Tanghalang Pilipino 20 years ago in collaboration with musical genius Ryan Cayabyab, and National Artist Bien Lumbera who made the libretto.

Early this year, Teatro Pilipino USA was granted permission by the original creators to restage the musical and bring it for the first time to the United States.

Playing the lead role of Crisostomo Ibarra is Miguel Vera along with Kit Navarro as Maria Clara, Joji Isla as Padre Damaso, Ariel Dayanghirang as Padre Salvi, Angela Garcia as Sisa among others.

Mate’ said the premiere showing of Noli was a full house and the cast and crew got a standing ovation.

One of those who watched the show was former Provincial Capitol employee Maricon Ramos. “It makes me proud as a Filipino to lay claim to a musical as beautiful as this,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mate’ said Tanghalang Pilipino USA may bring the show to California, Chicago, and Florida, as well as to Montreal and Calgary in Canada.*

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 30, 2014.


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