“Roses for Ben”, a new original OPM musical this LGBTQIA Month

pilar mateo sni THE “P” TALKS!

BY: Pilar Mateo


An OPM musical written (book and lyrics) by a young Communication Arts student from the University of Santo Tomas, Rayne Jarabo.

In partnership with the Red Whistle and Twelfth Studios, Artist Playground presents a new, original OPM musical about HIV awareness for the Gay Pride Month 2019. Jesse Lucas provides the musical direction, assisted by Arnold Bacsal, choreography by Lezlie Dailisan and direction by Roeder Camañag.

It will be presented at the Arts Above on 112 West Avenue, Q. C. on June 15 and 22 (Saturday) and June 16 and 23 (Sunday) at 7 p.m.

Benny Boy “Ben” Maglaque, Jr. is a 21-year old closeted gender-fluid. He works as a personal assistant in an entertainment company who eventually contracted with HIV, as soon as he finds his late ex-boyfriend died of AIDS.

Alternately portraying the character are Jude Matthew Servilla and Benj Espina.

Alice, the hotel singer whose dream is to be a well-known artist in the country is Ben’s girlfriend. Portrayingnher is Beulah Mae Saycon.

Alice’s sister is Denise who works at the corporate industry. She had a sexual affair with an aged owner of the entertainment company in exchange for money. Mirriam Reyes portrays her.

Lance, Denise’s husband is the seemingly bad boy type who has stereotypical features of an apathetic and indolent spouse. Playing him is Kim de las Alas.

Bobby Martino (of “Miss Saigon”) returns to the Philippine stage portraying the role of Sir Wency, the multi-millionaire owner/CEO of Agapi Entertainment Company and is Denise’s secret daddy; and as Mang Boyet, Ben’s father. Alternating with Bobby is Jerome Fugoso.

Ben’s late boyfriend, Dave who died of AIDS and is the triggering consciousness and cause of Ben’s nightmares will be portrayed by Dene Gomez.

Ken del Prado and Christian Silang will alternately play the role of Jess, Ben’s best friend, the most inquisitive and clownish character in the story, identified as straight, confused or bi-curious.

The “tsismosa” or the gossip mother in Agapi Entertainment Company is its production manager, Miss Queenie, portrayed by Nikki Herrera.

April Jasmin Rosales is Cecile, Dave’s bestfriend who works at Agapi Entertainment Company.

In the press conference held at the Artist Playground’s Arts Above, the artists performed the songs that nade some of us shed a tear.

“Umagang Paparating” by the alternating Bens; “The Kinky Song” by Jes; “Nagmamahal” by Dave; “Umiikot ang mga Rosas” by Alice and Ben; “Balakid” by Mang Boyet; “Pintuan” by Ben; and “Different Faces”, the Company Song.

Director Roeder, who is now bent in making musicals that uplifts and educates the viewers takes a keave of absence from acting on stage after “Geegee at Waterina”.

“It was physically and emotionakly draining. This time, we also want to bring “Roses for Ben” in the schools to the remotest places we can reach. To create awareness about HIV. About AIDS. About how and why it is a relevant issue. Nakakagawa na tayo mg musical about bullying. Bakit naman hindi ang isang malalim na pinaguusapan. Na hindi bumababa ang mga nabibiktima. Marami pa rin ang ayaw itong harapin. Hindi naman preachy ang “Roses for Ben”. Pero maraming matutunan sa sitwasyon ng main character.”

Ben has everything he’s ever wanted. A higj-paying job, a loving relationshio and friends he can count on.

The catch- he’s HIV positive!

How will he face his life? Will it ever be the same?

And Roeder promised that he will not stop directing more relevant stories like “Roses for Ben”.

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