Ang Pag-uusig, Repertory Phils., Ballet Manila win big at Gawad Buhay awards

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By Nickky Faustine P. De Guzman, Reporter

Tanghalang Pilipino’s Ang Pag-uusig was among the big winners at the 10th Gawad Buhay awards — considered as the country’s version of Broadway’s Tony Awards — the ceremonies of which were held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Thursday night.

The Filipino translation of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible came home with six awards: for best direction (by Dennis Marasigan), translation (Jerry Respeto), ensemble performance, outstanding play (original or translation), male featured performance in a play (Marco Viaña), and male lead performance in a play (JV Ibesate, who tied with Joshua Spafford for his work in Repertory Philippines’ In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play).

Tanghalang Pilipino used Miller’s story — set in the Salem witch trials as an allegory for the anti-Communism witch hunt of the 1950s — to make its own commentary on current Philippine socio-political events. Mr. Marasigan, who mentioned that Ang Pag-uusig will have a rerun in October, said in his acceptance speech for best direction that “our society needs more storytellers and truth tellers.”

Newsies, Repertory Philippines, and Ballet Manila were also big winners at the ceremony.

Dominating the dance category was Ballet Manila’s Ibong Adarna, which also took home six awards. It won for best choreography (Gerardo Francisco), original musical composition (Diwa de Leon), outstanding modern dance production, outstanding ensemble for modern dance, male lead performance in modern dance (Rudy de Dios), and male featured performance in modern dance (Romeo Peralta).

Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical’s production of Disney’s Newsies meanwhile went home with five wins: for outstanding male lead performance in a musical (Gian Magdangal), outstanding stage direction for a musical (Robbie Guevara), ensemble performance in a musical, outstanding choreography for a play or musical (PJ Rebullida), and outstanding production of existing material for a musical.

It was also a big night for Repertory Philippines whose 50th-anniversary productions won several awards: Hair (best musical direction for Ejay Yatco), In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play (for Bonsai Cielo’s costume design and a nod for Roselyn Perez as female lead in a play); and Agnes of God (sound design by Jethro Joaquin, set design by Joey Mendoza, lighting design for John Batalla, female featured performance by Rebecca Coates, and outstanding existing material for a play).

A couple of winners were absent during the awarding ceremonies, notably television and film actor Baron Geisler, who won outstanding featured performance in Tanghalang Pilipino’s Aurelio Sedisyoso, and is currently in rehab, and pop singer Aicelle Santos, who is currently in the United Kingdom for Miss Saigon, who won outstanding female featured performance in a musical for her work in Gantimpala Theater Foundation and Grand Leisure Corp.’s production of Maynila Sa Kuko ng Liwanag, The Musical.

Former Ballet Philippines’ artistic director Agnes Locsin and Philippine Education Theater Association (PETA) president Cecilia “CB” Garrucho were conferred the Natatanging Gawad Buhay for Lifetime Achievement awards.

Here are the other winners:

• Outstanding Original Libretto — J-Mee Katanyag, Tagu-taguan, Nasaan ang Buwan? (PETA)

• Female Featured Performance in Modern Dance — Sarah Alejandro, “Amada” from The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances (Ballet Philippines)

• Female Lead Performance in Classical Dance — Denise Parungao, Swan Lake (Ballet Philippines)

• Male Lead Performance in Classical Dance — Victor Maguad, Swan Lake (Ballet Philippines)

• Female Featured Performance in Classical Dance — Abigail Oliveiro, Don Quixote (Ballet Manila)

• Male Featured Performance in Classical Dance — Peter San Juan, La Bayadere (Philippine Ballet Theater)

• Outstanding Classical Dance Production — The Nutcracker (Ballet Philippines)

• Outstanding Ensemble Performance for Classical Dance — Swan Lake (Ballet Philippines)

There were no nominations, and thus no winners in the following categories: Female Lead Performance in a Musical, Female Lead Performance in Modern Dance, Outstanding Musical – Original or Translation/Adaptation, and Outstanding Production for Children.