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“Ang Larawan” Star Joanna Ampil Leads the Cast of “Waitresss” PH Run

“Anong nangyari?” For those who are not active in participating in the theater arts in the Philippines, Joanna Ampil may not ring any bell. That was a lost for us, because when I saw her in Loy Arcenas’ film adaptation of Nick Joaquin’s Ang Larawan, I was completely blown away. No other actress overwhelmed me with her performance.

Now, she’s back where she started. She will lead the cast of the international premiere with a sparkling new production, Waitress, which will open in Manila on November 9th at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City. The show, which continues to perform for sold-out audiences on Broadway and across the USA, is also set to debut at London’s West End in 2019 and in Australia in 2020.

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Based on the beloved film by Adrienne Shelly, Waitress features music and lyrics from 6-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles (“Love Song,” “Brave”) and a book by Jessie Nelson. The show made history by having Broadway’s first all-female creative team.

Waitress tells the story of a pie maker named Jenna who, despite the mundanity of her life, finds comfort and reckoning in the simple magic of baking. With the help of her two friends Dawn and Becky, she dreams of a way out of her loveless marriage and musters the courage to change her life for the better.

Leading the show as Jenna is award winning international musical theatre star Joanna Ampil. She has performed in the West End in musicals such as Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Avenue Q and Jesus Christ Superstar, to name a few. Her performance as Candida in the recent film Ang Larawan has won her numerous Best Actress Awards locally. Jenna will be her first role back in the local theatre scene after her stint as Grizabella in the international tour of Cats. 

Set to play the sassy waitress and loveable friend, Becky, is none other than Bituin Escalante. An influential figure in OPM, Bituin has also made rounds in the theatre scene since 1999. Bituin has starred in numerous Tony-winning shows in roles such as Joanne in Rent, Effie White in Dreamgirls,  and Asaka in Once on this Island. Her recent performance as Aling Saling in Himala: The Musical has earned her critical acclaim.

To complete the trio, Maronne Cruz will be playing the neurotic and eccentric Dawn. Maronne is no stranger to musical theatre. She has appeared in numerous productions including Jeannie in Hair , Gabbi in Sa Wakas, , Josephine in Ako Si Josephine, Stepsister Joy in Cinderella. She has also appeared in the indie film Mariquina as Monet and, most recently, performed in the hit musical  Ang Huling El Bimbo.

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But Joe’s Pie Diner would not be complete without the men of the show. Joining them are Bibo Reyes as Dr. Pomatter, Nino Alejandro as Ogie, George Schulze as Earl, Dean Rosen as Cal, and Steven Conde as Joe.

Bibo’s notable stage performances include Sonny in In the Heights, Franz in Rock of Ages, Trekky/Nicky in Avenue Q,  and Rudolpho in Matilda. He was last seen as Hector in Ang Huling El Bimbo. 

Nino has been in the local music scene since the ‘90s, and has released several solo albums. Waitress marks his fourth production with Atlantis, as he has previously appeared as Nick Massi in Jersey Boys, Ethan Gerard in The Full Monty, and Bud in The Bridges of Madison County.  He also joined The Voice Philippines and made it to the top 3 with his powerful rock vocals and soulful ballads.

Waitress marks George’s and Dean’s debut with Atlantis Theatrical.  George’s past productions include Hair, Beauty and the Beast, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Into The WoodsThe Horse and His Boy; and 50 Shades! A Musical Parody.  Dean previously appeared as Sir Galahad in Monty Python’s, and made his professional theater debut in A Peek Into The Woods.

Steven has been performing since 1999. Some of credits include: Aladdin: The New Stage Musical, The Full Monty, Ghost the Musical, Shrek the Musical, Saturday Night Fever the Musical, Bridges of Madison County the Musical, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, and Matilda the Musical. He has also forayed into directing and recently made his directorial debut with Atlantis with Side Show.   

Waitress also features Luigi Quesada, Gerhard Krysstopher, Luis Marcelo, Emeline Celis Guinid, Teetin Villanueva, Sarah Facuri, and Jillian Ita-as.

It is directed by Bobby Garcia, Choreography by Cecile Martinez, Set Design by Tony Award winner David Gallo, Lighting Design by Aaron Porter, Musical Direction by Farley Ascuncion, Costume Design by Raven Ong, Sound Design by Josh Millican, Hair and Make Up Design by Johann dela Fuente and Vocal Coaching by Manman Angsico.

The international premiere of Waitress will run from November 9 to December 2 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati. For tickets, contact TicketWorld at (632) 891-9999 or visit http://www.ticketworld.com.ph

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