Newport Performing Arts Theater: Top-quality entertainment as big bizBy Amadís Ma. Guerrero
Philippine Daily Inquirer
In a span of just two years, the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila (www.rmanila.com) at the Villamor Complex, Pasay City, has chalked up significant accomplishments.
Designed by Joseph Sy, with an ambient vestibule designed by prominent sculptress-printmaker Impy Pilapil, the theater has won the 2011 Perspective Awards-Certificate of Excellence and the 2011 Asia-Pacific Interior Design Silver Award.
It is also Broadway World Philippines’ Best Theatrical Venue for 2012.
Among other shows and activities, the state-of-the-art theater has been the venue for two major productions—“Kaos” and “The Sound of Music”—and a third Broadway hit coming up, also by Rodgers and Hammerstein, “The King and I,” opening on Sept. 15.
“Kaos” immediately made waves here as it featured imported acrobats, magicians and stunts, but its major players were all Filipino, Joel Trinidad and Gian Magdangal, among others. It was the most expensive of all Resorts World Manila productions.
This was followed by the record-breaking “The Sound of Music,” starring Audie Gemora and Joanna Ampil, which was extended and played for months (128 shows), and was seen by more than 150,000 people. It was reported to have the longest run in Southeast Asia of a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical.
“The King and I,” another beloved musical spectacle, and starring Leo Valdez and Monique Wilson, may well equal the impact of “The Sound of Music.”
But that, of course, remains to be seen.
The price range for Kaos was from P880 to P4,000, while for “The Sound of Music” it was P1,000-2,500.
“What made ‘The Sound of Music’ financially viable is that we extended the show from December last year to May this year,” says Colin Kerr, Resorts World VP for Entertainment, who is from Scotland and a onetime professional actor.
He adds, “We had covered the set-up cost in 3½ months, further 4-5½ months. So after the extension we made a profit. Basically, any extension is a bonus.”
Present during the interview—perhaps as a kind of moral support—were Kerr’s communications and PR colleagues Nini Icban, Archie Nicasio and Joy Andrade.
“We pay high talent fees and there are 8-month contracts per show,” Kerr says. “For the leads, the talent fees are the same (in pesos) as those in West End (London).”
So what’s the budget for “The King and I”? “You can guess when you see the production,” he replies evasively.
The theater’s production staff and crew are full-time employees with all benefits and stability. There is a sales team whose only job is to sell the shows, including block-selling. And the cast is selected by a panel which includes the director, line producer and Resorts World management.
Future plans remain ambitious. A grand musical will be mounted every third and fourth of the year. And a Resorts World Grand Opera House is being constructed in the bayshore area near the SM Mall of Asia.
“It is our advocacy to champion Filipino talent and we have done so quite magnificently so far with our in-house productions,” Kerr concludes. “Aside from the financial success, more so, we are rewarded by how Filipinos have learned to love the theater anew.”
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