Rachel Alejandro: My 'addiction' to theater
During the pilot for the new season of my talk show RealTalk on CNN Philippines, my co-host Christine Sandejas asked Krystal Brimner (a Scottish-Filipina child actress and one of two girls who bagged the coveted role in Resort's World's upcoming musical Annie) if she enjoyed more acting in films or theater. Without hesitation, the doll-like 9-year-old replied that she prefers movie acting because if she makes a mistake or forgets a line, she gets a chance to do it over.
I was surprised by her answer, as I consider theater my first choice, my first love. Later on, as we continued talking with her, I backtracked when I remembered that the research on Krystal mentioned that while she had already won Best Child Performer at the 2015 Metro Manila Film Festival for Honor Thy Father, Annie was in fact her first-ever play and at that time they were only in rehearsals. She had technically never performed before a live audience.
I challenged Krystal to come back on the show after their September run and answer that same question again. I said I bet she would change her mind because by then she, like me, would have gotten a taste of how an audience gives you indescribable energy and a sense of power as they react to what you do, most especially when they roar in laughter when you say a funny line. That feeling, I told Krystal, is highly addictive.
For the past two years and counting, I have been working on the film Ang Larawan, a passion project along with the producers, my longtime manager Girlie Rodis and singer Celeste Legaspi.
Why is it taking us so long? Well, for starters, we rehearsed for a whole year, something that has never been done here before. Our director Loy Arcenas is a perfectionist to say the least, and to be honest, material of this magnitude and importance deserves no less than complete dedication.
As a result, as I imbibed my character Paula and her sadness more and more, many days I found myself wanting to take a vacation from all the heavy feelings, and kept telling myself and everyone else that my next project must be a comedy!
Happily, as I often like to say, “thoughts become things.” Now I am not only acting, but for the very first time also co-producing a play with seven of my friends, including veteran actor/director Joel Trinidad. And yes, hallelujah, it is a comedy – a romcom, actually. Love/Sick is a straight play by Tony-nominated John Cariani, a collection of nine stories of love and loss that are completely hilarious one minute and heart-wrenching the next.
Love/Sick runs at the Mind Museum Auditorium in BGC this August and is Upstart Production's new offering for 2016, following its recent hits Forbidden Broadway and Into The Woods, the latter of which I was also a part and which enjoyed sold-out performances last year.
Being an actor and a producer at the same time is no easy feat, but we're off to a very good start. We've sold all 8 performances to show buyers within a few weeks of announcing the show. As early as now, people are clamoring for an extension – something we've considered but have decided against for now since this is our first venture together and want to focus on just making it the best show it can be.
Our August 5 opening night is still quite a few weeks away, but as early as now I can already feel the high. I love to visualize outcomes, and with Love/Sick I can almost hear the crowd's loud laughter.b
The last time I experienced seeing and hearing an audience practically crying and falling off their seats laughing was when I was in the Grand Theater of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore performing the musical Avenue Q for Atlantis Productions.
Coincidentally, Love/Sick combines some of my cast mates from that Singapore run (Bibo Reyes and Noel Rayos) with those from the original Manila staging (Joel Trinidad and Teenee Chan). So yeah, this is like a mini Avenue Q reunion for us. Other terrific actors on the show are my good friends Mica Pineda, Onyl Torres and assistant director Nicky Triviño, all of whom I worked with in Into The Woods.
The self-help book turned documentary The Secret, about the “law of attraction” and how our thoughts shape our reality, features a lady who says she cured herself of cancer by watching comedy films and giving thanks for her good health. This really sounded like mumbo-jumbo to me at the time, but later on I realized that if at some level our negative thoughts and feelings could make us sick, why couldn't laughter heal and help make us well?
I decided to invest in Love/Sick (and hopefully, many more comedic shows in the future) because that the night our group sat down and read it together for the first time, we knew it was special. It touches the heart, tickles funny bones, and makes you forget even for just an hour and a half about the horrendous traffic, that fight you had with your husband, or anything at all weighing heavily on your chest. No kidding – a play did that for us.
So come and watch the show, take a load off, have a good laugh… and feed my addiction. – Rappler.com
Rachel Alejandro is an award-winning singer-actress, best-selling author, business owner and producer. Follow her on Facebook, @racheljalejandro on Instagram and @rachelalejandro on Twitter. Her play Love/Sick will run at the Mind Museum Auditorium in Bonifacio Global City on August 5-20, 9PM on Fridays and 8PM on Saturdays/Sundays. Ticket price is P500. For reservation details, visit the Upstart Facebook page or website.