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Multi-awarded musical theater director Bobby Garcia believes that instead of great things, an actor should aspire for greatness.
He said it recently when our conversation came to what local actors can do in order for them to make it to Broadway or West End. While acknowledging that we have some of the best actors in the world, Bobby pointed out that if putting their name on the marquee in those two places is their ultimate goal, then they are in the wrong frame of mind.
“The greatest goal of an actor is to put his heart and soul into telling the story that he was hired for — whatever show that is and wherever it’s staged. If they do this extremely well — if they are passionate about this — then that’s their success,” he said.
With due respect to theater actors who have conquered the international scene, Bobby said that aside from talent and hard work, luck determines how far an actor can go. Because an actor or a singer who is damn good at what he does, doesn’t mean he is assured of getting the breaks he wants.
“To be given breaks is out of your control and to think otherwise is to court frustration,” he quipped.
Bobby knows what he speaks having worked with the best of them not only here but even abroad including China and Singapore. He said that when he steps into a rehearsal room, a theater, a stage, he forgets where he is because the work, the process is the same.
Actors can take their cue from Bobby. He has been in the business for 20 years now yet his passion for his craft remains strong. The way his eyes light up when he talks about good material — whether his or someone else’s — says so.
Bobby is clear about his parameters, true to his convictions. He doesn’t ask for approvals because he won’t even start something he doesn’t fully believe in. That if Bobby is in it, to borrow the tag line of an advertising campaign for a wallet a few years back, it must be good.
One of these is the Atlantis Productions’ staging of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, Next to Normal, which returns to Manila for a limited two-week run from Oct. 7 to 16 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati. Bobby is directing some of the country’s best theater actors in the musical, including Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo , Jett Pangan, Felix Rivera, Bea Garcia, Jake Macapagal and Markki Stroem.
Bobby describes Next to Normal which delves on bipolar disorder, as one “challenging” material. This is the reason he feels so blessed that the Filipino theater audiences have embraced it despite its almost taboo subject.
Then again, it would have been the audience’s loss if they hadn’t. After all, Next To Normal, according to Bobby, has some of the most exciting rock music for theater. It actually broke lots of ground when it opened off-Broadway some years ago, he added.
“When I saw Next to Normal… I was once again excited for the future of musical theater,” Bobby said.
Coming from someone like Bobby, who has remained such a potent force in theater for his integrity, it’s really saying something.