Birthing is a miraculous wonder. It’s the closest thing to giving a personal sense of the presence of God, our Creator. There is no greater joy than welcoming a birth in our midst. Bringing a creation into the world is universally celebrated and shared. And whether the excitement is over the coming of a child or the fruition of an artistic endeavor, birthing marks a significant milestone in our life as a community.
On November 15 -18, 2018, the birth of an artistic creation will be celebrated in a not- so-likely or expected place. Away from the performing halls of Metro Manila, or the other large metropolitan centers of the Philippines, in a province far way, at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium at Silliman University in Dumaguete City, the very first full length staging of the new and original romantic musical, “Song of Solomon”, will debut before a culturally sophisticated Dumaguete audience.
Created for the Broadway stage by New Yorkers Andrew Beall, composer, and Neil van Leeuwen, lyricist, “Song of Solomon” finds its initial presentation in a theater amid the tropics in tourist-friendly Dumaguete.
“Song of Solomon” is a new and original romantic musical based on the love poetry exchanged between King Solomon and his unidentified secret lover in “Song of Songs” in the Old Testament.
Solomon’s romantic love for Almah, an intelligent vineyard girl from Shulam, threatens his political power. His best friend and chief adviser, Benjamin, is set on marrying him to foreign princesses to gain land, wealth, and alliances. Benjamin secretly sees Almah as an obstacle. Solomon must now wrestle with two visions of Israel. One, a political-materialistic vision, is pushed by Benjamin. The other, a spiritual vision, awakens in him through the love of Almah. The clash between these visions forces Solomon to decide who he is and what he wants Israel to be.
Bringing “Song of Solomon” to life on the Philippine stage is Aliw awardee Mr. Jaime del Mundo. With his directorial magic, del Mundo will shape the skills and talents of the cast, into a memorable moment for the Luce audience.
The Cast features theater personalities David Ezra as Solomon, Yanah Laurel as Almah, Menchu Lauchengco as Leah, Jep Go as Benjamin; as well as new talents Giob Rodriguez as Ruben, Jack Repollo as Nathan, and Sapphire Dela Peña as Nadia. They are supported by local talents from Dumaguete, Bacolod, Iloilo, Cebu and Dipolog.
Show director Jaime Del Mundo said The Song of Solomon is “a challenge because it’s sung- through. It’s like Les Miserables or Miss Saigon. This is 99 percent sung.”
After The Song of Solomon completes its Dumaguete run, it will be performed on April 27-28 next year at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay City, as part of the CCP’s 50th anniversary.
Composer Beall said that after the CCP performances, he’s aiming for Broadway.
Menchu Lauchengco Yulo has been in Philippine Theater since she was 15. In 2017, she starred in the critically acclaimed 2017 movie, “Larawan”. She is well known for her stage roles as Diana Goodman in Next to Normal and Mrs. Lovett alongside Audie Gemora in Sweeney Todd. Her role in The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe for Trumpets Inc. earned her an Aliw Award nomination. She earned another Aliw Award nomination for her role in Atlantis Productions’ Proof. She also starred in the box office hits Dreamgirls, Baby, and Nine. Menchu played Ellen in the 2000 Manila production of Miss Saigon. She also did Into the Woods for the New Voice Company. In Song of Solomon, Menchu essays the role of Leah, the sister of Almah, and mother of the baby Maya who was presented to King Solomon over a dispute between two prostitutes. David Ezra, son of Dulce, is a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Conservatory of Music. He has wide experience in musical theater. He has starred in Repertory Philippines’ Sweeney Todd and Seussical. He also played the lead role of the propaganda writer Aurelio Tolentino in Tanghalang Pilipino’s “Aurelio Sedisyo”. In the recent hit Side Show, he played the role of Buddy. David once gain takes the lead as King Solomon in Song of Solomon. Yanah Laurel belongs to the famous Laurel family of entertainers. She played Lauren in the musical Kinky Boots mounted by the Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group. She previously joined other productions like Shrek and Jersey Boys and Fun Home. Her latest theater appearance was in El Bimbo. Yanah portrays Almah, the vineyard girl who is the object of Solomon’s love. Jep Go is a young and rising star in musical theater. He has done The Little Prince by Make Believe Productions and I Remember a Boy by Artist Playground. He also played “The Singing Chemist on TV, and was part of Lea Salonga’s Team in The Voice of the Philippines, Season 2. Jep plays Ray in the recent hit, Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! For Song of Solomon, Jep takes on the heavy role of Benjamin, Solomon’s best friend and political adviser. Giob Rodriguez is Director Jaime del Mundo’s new talent discovery in Song of Solomon. Prior to joining the cast of “Song of Solomon”, Giob was in “Siddharta the Musical”, which toured in Australia and Singapore. This emotive young actor with a beautiful voice tackles the role of Ruben, a rich and influential businessman who, spurned by Almah, conspires with Benjamin in the plot to abduct her.
The opportunity to stage “Song of Solomon” reinforces the vision to develop the wealth of talent among the youth, and to provide a window to the world that showcases the depth and the versatility of the Filipino’s creative and artistic spirit as performer and interpreter of our evolving culture.
“Song of Solomon” is produced by the Dumaguete Theater Company, a non-stock, non- profit volunteer organization of theater enthusiasts, the Culture and Arts Council of Silliman University, and the Bravo Resort Hotel. (By ATTY RIODEL MONTEBON – President, Dgte Theater Company)