Sunday, November 15, 2009


MANILA --- More than 300 would-be stars mobbed open-call auditions last October 16, 17 and 18 at the headquarters of the Philippine Opera Company’s “La Boheme” rehearsal hall in San Lorenzo Village, Makati City for the Broadway musical hit Rent.

The line of would-be Renters ran up to the garden and the street outside….. Ages ranged from 17 to mid 40s. A motley group ---- students, professionals of various business disciplines …. Others dangled with their resumés full of theatre experiences while the vast majority simply wanted to try their luck….. come what may!

They carried guitars, music notes, scribbled lyrics on small pieces of paper but only to be told to drop it on the floor…. Lots of mineral water and cigarettes were a sight at the lawn. Some were sleeping, some were sitting, some were jumping up and down apparently trying to "get loose." Looks and styles ranged from men with attitude or for that matter, with no “X” factor at all….. and the ladies came in different sizes and shapes with or without make-up subtly to inject the ‘rock’-feel in them… imagine long stringy hair, halter tops, woven braids, knee-high boots, blue nail polish, pierced everything and tattoos.

"I was expecting a lot of people, but didn't really believe it until I saw it with my own eyes... when I came out at the main lobby I really felt their intensity and how much they all wanted to be a part of RENT..." marveled Robbie Guevara, director for the Tony Award-winning musical. 
Each one of them were given their magical moment to sing two pop rock song of various tempos. And at unannounced instances, some were told to sing a cappella their favorite song be it an OPM or otherwise.

It was a ‘no-no’ to sing a song from the musical or any other musical theatre piece. Everyone was encouraged to leave their head shots and resumés just in case something came up in the future.

From these three days and a total of 302 auditionees, ‘callback sessions’ were held Oct. 26, 29 and November 4 to further streamline the 78 top listers.

The audition panel was composed of Robbie Guevara who shall direct the rock musical; Santi Santamaria, Executive Producer; Toots Tolentino, PR/Publicist; Ceejay Javier, Musical Director; and Lionel Guico, Vocal Consultant.

The two-tiered audition process: the first based on looks, the second based on sound. 

Jonjon Martin, the audition master passed down the line from the audition panel, encouraging people to "hang" despite the wait. PR man Toots Tolentino would sneak out of the room to holler and remind the callback audtionees to take that day seriously by trying to ‘sink into the roles’ they are eyeing for. Choreographer Charles Thompson, assisted by Julie Reyes, was commandeering a tango suite for those gunning for Mark and Joanne, and an upbeat song for the Angel and Mimi wannabees. Those who made it further to the callback were also videotaped. 

Inside, the room was more intense as each one was encouraged by director Robbie Guevara to deliver their own version of the song not just by “simply singing the song” but by “singing it from the heart”.

And those who did eventually made it to the final 16 as the cast of RENT.

Contact Onay (0918-536-2116)

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