PNS — THOSE who clamor for original Pilipino musicals will be glad to know that Nestor Torre, Jr. (who earlier gave us acclaimed original stage presentations like “Magsimula Ka,” “Katy” and “Magnificat”) has now written a new musical which he himself is directing, “Cory, The Musical,”, with music and libretto by Mrs. Bing Pimentel, wife of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel who’s producing it and has written 20 original songs for the show.
Playing the role of Pres. Cory Aquino is theater veteran Isay Alvarez, with her husband Robert Sena as Pres. Marcos, Pinky Marquez as Imelda, and opera singer Sherwin Sozon as the late Ninoy Aquino.
At its presscon, some songs were sung by Isay and Sherwin, like “Sino Ako?” (Cory’s song when asked to run for president asking herself “Sino ako para tumakbo bilang presidente?”), the wedding song of Cory and Ninoy, and two of Ninoy’s poems set to music by Mrs. Pimentel, “Pick Up Your Cross” and “You are the Candle of My Life.”
“Pres. Cory saw the play I wrote about our life ni Nene (Pimentel) during the martial law years at sabi niya, ang ganda,” says Mrs. Pimentel. “So when I heard she was sick and undergoing chemo, I thought ano kaya ang puwede kong ibigay when she already has everything? So I thought of writing this musical about her life.”
When Nestor got her to play the role of Cory in July, Isay got excited. She’s happy to work with Nestor again who discovered her in the early 80s in “Magsimula Ka.” “But by August, gusto ko nang mag-backout,” she says. “It’s a very difficult role. It starts when Cory is 75 then goes back and forth in her life kaya sa next scene, bata na ako in my 20’s marrying Ninoy. Sometimes, the changes take place in only a few minutes kaya mahirap talaga. Kung minsan, umiiyak ka, then you break into a song.”
Nestor gave her so many books and videos about Cory so she can study the character she’ll play. “I want to know how she thinks and feels, even if I’ve never met her. Nestor said, treat her as your best friend. In the process, I realized she might look very gentle, but she’s really so strong and tough in the inside. She only broke down, and this is a highlight of the play, when Ninoy told her while they were living in Boston, that he has decided to come home. She was very much against it kasi alam niya may mangyayari. At ‘yun na nga, he was assassinated. But during the wake, she never lost her composure and dignity.”
Will the play touch on Cory’s personal problems, like when daughter Kris was impregnated by Phillip Salvador? “Hindi na,” says Isay. “It’s more about matters concerning her presidency. ‘Yung kay Kris, dapat another musical ‘yun.”
Isay is now 47. It’s been 19 years since she played Gigi in the original London production of “Miss Saigon.” Her eldest daughter, Didang, is now 22 and works with JP Morgan. Her two sons, Bok, 16, and Miong, 9, are still in school. She considers the role of Cory the most challenging part she has ever played. “Cory, The Musical” will have its gala night on November 28 at the Meralco Theater, with Pres. Cory herself as special guest. Regular run is from November 29 to December 1. There will be a second run in January in time for Pres. Cory’s 76th birthday.