Three leading men with three talents in three concerts

IN theater, a “triple threat” is a performer who is skilled in three important skills: singing, dancing, and acting. Three tenors who are considered triple threats are the featured performers in Cultural Center of the Philippines’ appropriately named concert series Triple Threats.

The performances will be held at the Cultural Center’s Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez (Black Box Theater) from October to December.

The Triple Threats series is composed of solo concerts with music, featuring songs personally selected by the artists from their vast repertoire of favorites. Dubbed as a series of “concept concerts,” the narrative of the performance is dictated by the song choices.  It is a rare opportunity for the audience to see a different facet of the featured artist. In previous years, the series, which kicked off in 2013, saw performances by theater stalwarts such as Menchu Lauchengo-Yulo, Audie Gemora, Nonie Buencamino, Sheila Francisco, Michael Williams, and Bituin Escalante.

“It began with the premise of someone who can sing act and dance,” said Ariel Yonzon, Associate Artistic Director of the Cultural Center’s Production and Exhibition Department, at a press conference on Oct. 11. “Not only do they come in a package of three talents, or gifts, they also come in threes.”

MARKKI STROEMThis year’s lineup features theater artists Markki Stroem, Arman Ferrer, and Poppert Bernadas.

Kicking off this year’s series on Oct. 14 is Markki Stroem with a show titled Leading.

Mr. Stroem was a finalist on ABS-CBN’s show Pilipinas Got Talent Season 1 and has nine theater credits under his belt, including playing the one of the leads, Christian, in the recent restaging of Mula Sa Buwan, and Joe Pitt in Angels in America. He has also performed the roles of Tommy Ross in Carrie: The Musical, Shane Gray in Camp Rock, Henry in Next To Normal.

Aside from theater, he is also a familiar face on television as he is in the cast of the variety show, ASAP’s Boys R Boys (BRB) and where his group won Most Promising Male Group in the Guillermo Mendoza Box Office Awards.  For his work in the 2012 Cinema One Originals film Slumber Party, Stroem was nominated as Best Actor (Cinema 1 Originals Awards), Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actor (Golden Screen Awards), Best Breakthrough Actor (Gawad Tangi), and New Movie Actor of the Year (PMPC Star Awards for Movies). He has also produced and directed music videos for artists Rachelle Ann Go, Christian Bautista, and Noel Cabangon.

His first album, Thousands of Pieces topped the Astroplus top-selling album charts in 2012.

Like so many things, the concert was belayed by the COVID-19 pandemic — “2020 was supposed to be when we were supposed to do the show. Because of what happened, we had more time to prepare for this concert,” Mr. Stroem said.

“I already had so many things brewing in my mind. So when I found out during the last week of rehearsals of Mula sa Buwan that I was going to be doing the show. I already knew what I needed to do for this show,” he said.

Act 1 of tonight’s concert consist of his band arrangements and song compositions; Act 2 will feature one song from each musical production he has starred in; and Act 3 will feature special guests.

ARMAN FERRERThe second concert in the Triple Threats series, titled All of Me, features operatic tenor Arman Ferrer.

Directed by Floy Quintos and Noel Ferrer, the show on Nov. 18 includes classical music, songs from musicals, songs of inspiration, and songs about our country.

Arman Ferrar was 21 years old, an operatic tenor, and had no acting experience when he went to his first audition for the zarzuela, Walang Sugat at Ateneo, bagging the lead role of Tenyong in 2010.

He has since appeared in The Best of Opera at Resorts World Manila, 9Works’ A Christmas Carol, Tanghalang Pilipino’s Mabining Mandirigma, and two original musicals by director Joel Lamangan — Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag and Binondo: A Tsinoy Musical, where he received great reviews.  In 2021, he got the title role in Lapu Lapu, Ang Datu ng Mactan, directed by Dexter Santos and the first production staged at the newly renovated Metropolitan Theater.

More than acknowledging his vocal abilities, Mr. Ferrer is now focused on the impact he exhibits through his performance.

“Ang hinahanap ko na ngayon is after the show or after the singing, and music, is hindi ’yung boses ko ang mapapansin kundi ano yung binigay ko as an artist… (What I look for now after the show or after the singing, and the music, is not the attention given to my voice but what I am able to give as an artist),” he said.

“It’s more than the music, lyrics,” he added. “Dapat makuha nila yung gusto mong sabihin (The audience has to understand the message you are trying to get across).”

POPPERT BERNADASClosing the series on Dec. 21 is Poppert Bernadas, with his show titled Musika, ang Teatro at Ako.

Mr. Bernadas was an original member of the vocal group the Ryan Cayabyab Singers or RCS since 2007.

In 2014, he was cast as Kenny in longest-running Filipino musical, PETA’s Rak of Aegis. He has been a part of other productions such as Magsimula Ka!, LORENZO the Musical, Ang Huling Lagda ni Apolinario Mabini, and Godspell. Last year, he became part of a management called Ateam, headed by singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid.

Mr. Bernadas’ show will be an ode to his mentors: National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab, Mr. Alcasid, and Robert and Isay Seña, his co-performers in Rak of Aegis.

“Expect [the show] to have 85 to 95% OPM material,” he said, referring to Original Pilipino Music.

The three concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex. Visit the CCP’s official website (https://culturalcenter.gov.ph) and Facebook page (http://(www.facebook.com/culturalcenterofthephilippines)(www.facebook.com/culturalcenterofthephilippines) for more information about the series. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman