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Stages of Love: An Inside Look

“Love happens when you don’t look for it. Open the door when it comes a-knockin’—don’t ignore it.”

True to fact, love indeed happens when you least expect it. Whether you just got over a break-up, or are currently crushing on someone, or simply just waiting for it, love will find you. And when it does come, it’s best to just open that door, look at your love right in the eyes and just go for it! And what better way to just “go for it” than watching Ateneo Blue Repertory’s Season Finale: Stages of Love.

A blueREP classic, Stages of Love is now on its 10th anniversary. Andrei Pamintuan, who conceptualized Stages of Love and directed this year's production, said his inspiration was “that love is very universal, and that there are many stages of love, hence the title. And so I feel that, that in itself is the inspiration—telling stories about love, and who doesn’t like a love story? And that it’s something that everyone can relate to, whether it’s a first love or an unrequited love or a heartbreak.”

It has been performed numerous times by the organization, and each set of cast members brings its own personal flavor, a new dynamic to classic characters, and multitude of different emotions in every show.

BlueREP opened its doors to all Loyola Schools students to audition. The cast this time ‘round features Jase Liwag and Brian Pineda as the M1 alternates, Juancho Escoto as M2, Krystal Kane as M3, Rando Terragosa as M4, FM Sanchez as M5, Francis Castro as M6, Sam Turingan as F1, Moira Lozada and Mikka Espiño as the F2 alternates, Amber Hao as F3, Jamie Ozamis and Evee Raypon as the F4 alternates, and Erika Rafael and Jikka Defiño as the F5 alternates.

The cast started with music rehearsals right away. Abi Sulit and Alex Masucol, the musical director and assistant musical director respectively, stepped up to help the cast perfect all the classic songs and crowd favorites from the musical. After merely a week or so, they were cleaning up the numbers, in a fairly fast pace due to the cast’s fast pick-up.

“Oh, I love it,” Abi gushed when asked about how it was working with this cast, “‘cause they’re magkakaiba talaga. They’re super different from the two casts that I handled two years ago? 2013 and last year, actually. They’re very different—they add their own flavor to the show. It’s really fun.”

Immediately after they started with choreography at the hands of Rianna Raymundo. “[T]he choreography is very lyrical,” she said, “very based on feelings, on natural movements—if there are dances it’s because the music allows for it. But aside from that, it’s very natural, organic, based on feelings.”

After another week they proceeded to the blocking. The co-director, Boo Gabunada, and the assistant director, Marga Crisostomo, set the initial framework for the blocking, and fixed it up whenever something needed fixing.

“[Because] SoL is really just more like, we set it and that’s what the actors will do with their characters. And then from there we just have to push for truth. Push for truth until we have a show like this, where everyone is really doing their thing, everyone is relating to each other and then we have a solid cast,” Boo had said when asked about the easiest things to get done.

But of course there will always be bumps in the road, especially with a musical that calls for so much raw and natural emotions.

“Sometimes when people act onstage they act it out too much,” said Andrei, “they put on characters and they forget the real emotion, and then throughout the process of Stages of Love, the cast and I sort of navigated through really making them embody their characters and how their characters would react to love, and what their characters’ journeys are when it comes to finding love.”

This particular version of the musical also brought out a lesbian character, pining for her best friend who is in love with another. This is the first time Stages of Love has ever had a lesbian character, and when asked about this decision Andrei replied,

“Since these are modern stories of love, then why not feature a couple—not even a couple, a lesbian, that loves a girl, that loves someone else, you know what I mean? Let’s be real here, this is the world we’re living in, and everyone’s allowed to love—it’s their freedom and their right, and it’s only apt that we use the stage as a vehicle to be a representative of our world.”

Rony Fortich, who arranged the music, added on, “Putting in a lesbian character, or if it were a gay character, it felt like the most natural thing. But we wanted to make it matter-of-fact, it’s just part of the scene, so it’s not about her coming out, she’s as comfortable in her skin as everybody else is, and that she goes through as much pain as anybody else does. Unrequited love is painful, period…”

When the Artistic Team was asked about the overall vision for the musical, they said the same thing: heart.

“SoL is nothing without heart. [Heart] is what drives this whole production, [heart] is what drives these actors to go here every day, and we want that to show in this production. We want sincerity, we want simplicity,” Boo had said.

And from the success of their preview night, where alumni of blueREP and former cast members of past productions of Stages of Love had gathered to watch the show, the cast certainly achieved that. Many compliments rained down for the cast and the artistic and production teams that night, and the show’s good streak only continued from then. It’s safe to say that Stages of Love is definitely worth the watch.

So what are you waiting for? Catch the last eight shows of Stages of Love on April 9 and from April 12-16 at 8PM, with 3PM shows on April 9 and 16. For ticket inquiries contact Mikee Alvero at 09151780336.

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