Although he continues to be visible on television with teleseryes like GMA Network’s “Indio” and “Innamorata” as well as in acclaimed films like Erik Matti’s “On The Job” and Joyce Bernal’s “10,000 Hours”, not too many are aware that Michael de Mesa has been shuttling back and forth to the country from the U.S., where he and wife Julie Reyes have been based for the last six years.
Despite remaining active in the business, the 54-year-old tried to live what he describes as “a quiet normal life”. However, he could not stay away from acting for long.
“I really missed the work. I realized who I really was, where I really belong and I love what I’m doing. I love being an actor,” he said during the recent launch of 9 Works Theatrical’s production of the popular Broadway musical, “La Cage aux Folles”.
Based on the 1973 French play by Jean Poiret that was also the basis for Mike Nichols’ 1996 comedy, “The Birdcage”, “La Cage aux Folles” literally means “the cage of mad women,” with folles being a slang term for effeminate homosexuals.
In this Tony award-winning musical by Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman, Michael plays the role of Georges, the owner of a popular nightclub in Saint-Tropez. The story focuses on his relationship with life partner Albin (Audie Gemora) who is the same club’s star attraction.
“I’m excited because it’s my first time to work with Audie who I’ve known for the longest time. It has been my dream to work with him, which is why I grabbed this project right away when it was first offered to me,” Michael enthused.
Although the musical was first staged back in 1983, Michael said “La Cage aux Folles” is more relevant than ever.
“The story is very now, what with same sex marriages, gay relationships happening a lot. The whole musical is still a joy to watch with engaging songs and dazzling dance numbers so I think audiences will have a grand time watching this,” he enthused.
“La Cage” is sort of a theater comeback for Michael, who is best remembered onstage for playing Edna Turnblad in Atlantis Production’s 2008 staging of “Hairspray”and last performed in De La Salle University’s restaging of “A Fire in The Soul: A Cantata” in 2012.
That same year, Michael was actually cast in Repertory Philippines’ “Boeing Boeing” but surprisingly dropped out along with sister Cherie Gil, who was originally scheduled to play Mrs. Robinson in “The Graduate” also that season.
This year, Michael and Cherie are both back in theater. While he is given top billing in “La Cage aux Folles”, she is headlining PETA’s production of Anton Chekov’s “Arbol de Fuego”.
“There was actually a role in that play that was also offered to me but I was already committed to doing this by then so I couldn’t do it. But Cherie and I have always been discussing theater as of late and maybe next year, we just might be able to do a project together, our first since we did ‘The Guys’ way back in 2004,” he revealed.
Asked why theater work is so appealing to him even though he’s already a sought-after performer in film and TV, Michael said there’s a certain fulfillment to being on stage.
“For me, theater is an actor’s medium, film is a director’s medium while television is more of a corporate medium nowadays,” he pointed out.
Directed by Robbie Guevarra, “La Cage aux Folles” also stars Steven Silva, Missy Macuja Elizalde, Joni Galeste, JP Basco, Mara Celine Javier, Randi de Guzman, Carlos Deriada, Chesko Rodriguez, Dindo Divinagracia, Cheeno Macaraig, James Stacey and Rafa Siguion-Reyna.
The musical will be staged at the RCBC Plaza in Makati on March 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 2015, with Friday and Saturday galas at 8PM, selected Saturday matinees at 3:30PM, and Sunday matinees at 4PM. (MNS)