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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Creative powerhouses bring to life Ballet Manila’s ‘Lola Basyang’ 

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Ballet Manila’s  Tatlong Kwento ni Lola Basyang  returns onstage on May 11, this time with  Mitch Valdez  playing the lovable storyteller grandma.  The role used to be played by the late  Luz Valdez.

Apart from theater, the long-time radio actress was active in film and television, and very much remembered for portraying a similar character in the ‘70s television fantasy  Ora Engkantada.

For this season’s production, Lola Basyang will have an interesting twist as Mitch Valdez plans to stand up from the iconic rocking chair and join the dancers onstage.

“And she will sing,” added Ballet Manila artistic director and chief executive officer  Lisa Macuja-Elizalde.

Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang  is an anthology of short stories written by “Lola Basyang,” the pen name of  Severino Reyes, founder and editor of  Liwayway  magazine. The ballet production is based on the version of children’s book writer  Christine Bellen.

“The idea came about during my children’s book fair,” Lisa recalls. “I saw the books in their school library, and I bought all 12. Then I called a meeting with my artistic team. I told them to choose one to make into a ballet.”

The production is based on Christine Bellen’s version of Severino Reyes’ ‘Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang’

Stories about romance, adventure, and comedy were chosen, and were called  Ang Tatlong Kwento ni Lola Basyang.

The production opens with “Ang Prinsipe ng mga Ibon” choreographed by the late  Osias Barroso Jr., Ballet Manila’s co-artistic director, followed by “Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Maria,” choreographed by Lisa Macuja-Elizalde with music by  Joey Ayala, ”Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin,” choreographed by the late  Tony Fabella  with music by  Ryan Cayabyab.

Lola Basyang couldn’t have come at a better time according to Mitch. “ I was in that certain stage of my life, emerging from a pandemic, and I didn’t know what to do,  teleseryes  I have done, lounge acts and concerts I’ve done, and then Lisa texted ‘Do you want to do Lola Basyang’ I said of course!”

The performer added that she intends to be a different Lola Basyang.

“I do not want to sit in a rocking chair…. just yet. I want to move with the dancers. At age 9, I wanted to be  Rita Moreno, that was my peg. I will always love, live performance’ and this just falls in the category of an audience. I love the audience and I love to entertain.”

The dance production also worked closely with Anvil Publishing as the material contributes to the legacy of renowned Filipino writer Severino Reyes. Anvil Publishing president  Xandra Ramos Padilla  sees it as an excellent opportunity to instill pride among local theatergoers.

“We hope it inspires people to appreciate and support different forms of local art and culture.  An original Filipino story performed through dance is something that the Philippines can be proud of,” she says, adding that Lola Basyang’s stories are “loved by generations because they teach values and help instill a child’s love for reading.” 

Ballet Manila’s  Tatlong Kwento ni Lola Basyang  goes onstage on May 11 at 8:00 p.m., and May 12 and 18 at 5:00 p.m.

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