There’s going to be plenty of “biritan” and “kantahan” in “Ang Larawan,” an entry in the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival. “Ang Larawan” is the Filipino musical based on Nick Joaquin’s play A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino. Set in 1941 in Intramuros, it tells of how sisters Candida and Paula defiantly hold on to their father’s painting, and how their handsome boarder Tony Javier wants to change their minds.
To bring to life this passion project, Culturtain Musicat Productions has put together a most awesome group of Filipino singers and musicians ever assembled for a local motion picture. “Producers Girlie Rodis and Celeste Legaspi have gathered some of the finest Filipino musicians and actors for this rich adaptation of Joaquin’s masterwork,” said Lawrence Harmon, former Urban Affairs and Political columnist of the Boston Globe.
Heading the cast are: West End sensation Joanna Ampil as Candida, multi-awarded recording star Rachel Alejandro as Paula, and acclaimed heartthrob Paulo Avelino as Tony Javier. With them are OPM stalwarts Celeste Legaspi, Dulce, and Nanette Inventor; luminaries of film and stage Robert Arevalo, Nonie Buencamino, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Noel Trinidad, Leo Rialp, and Bernardo Bernardo; veteran actor and musical director Jaime Fabregas; and the new “lodis” of Philippine entertainment and music Sandino Martin, Aicelle Santos, Cris Villonco, Cara Manglapus, Jojit Lorenzo and Rayver Cruz. Portraying very special roles are OPM icons Ogie Alcasid and Zsa Zsa Padilla.
“It’s an honor to be here and to work with such big and great names,” said Paulo. “Bihirang makabuo ng ganitong kalaking cast. It’s an all-star cast. It’s a nice mix and I couldn’t believe na kayang bumuo ng cast for a film,” he underscored.
The beautiful libretto written by National Artist for Theater Rolando Tinio has been set to music by celebrated composer Ryan Cayabyab, and performed by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra. Rachel declared, “The first time I heard the orchestra play the music at the rehearsal, I got goose bumps! It’s a different experience!”
Richard Kuipers of Variety wrote in his Tokyo International Filmfest review that “Ang Larawan” (international title: “The Portrait”) directed by Loy Arcenas is a “stirring musical drama.” He praised the performances, particularly Joanna’s and Rachel’s (“No one speaks and sings more eloquently than Paula and Candida…”) and cited Rolando Tinio’s lyrics and Ryan Cayabyab’s music as “highly effective.”
Filipino audiences will see — and hear! — this musical extravaganza when “Ang Larawan” opens on Christmas Day. “We encourage people to watch it on the first two days so that their Christmas will be filled with songs,” urged Celeste.
For updates about “Ang Larawan,” log on www.anglarawan.com and check out Ang Larawan The Movie on Facebook.