ZsaZsa Zaturnnah returns onstage to address a new generation

A NEW generation will meet ZsaZsa Zaturnnah as she returns onstage to take on the evil doers threatening her town in the Ateneo Blue Repertory (blueREP) production of ZsaZsa Zaturnnah the Musical… ‘Yun Lang!.

The show will run from March 17 to April 2 at the Ateneo de Manila University’s Doreen Fernandez Black Box Theater in the Areté building.

Based on a graphic novel by Carlo Vergara, ZsaZsa Zaturnnah the Musical… ‘Yun Lang! follows the misadventures of Ada, a gay beauty salon proprietor who transforms into the superheroine ZsaZsa Zaturnnah and saves her town from monsters.

The character of ZsaZsa Zaturnnah first appeared in 2002 in Vergara’s graphic novel titled Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni ZsaZsa Zaturnnah (The Spectacular Adventures of ZsaZsa Zaturnnah). The was soon transported to the live stage, and between 2006 to 2011, the musical was performed multiple times by the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ resident company, Tanghalang Pilipino. In 2006, a movie adaptation of the material, ZsaZsa Zaturnnah Ze Moveeh ,was an official entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival that year.

This year, the play written by Chris Martinez, with lyrics, music, and musical direction by Vincent DeJesus, returns to the stage as the only production of Ateneo blueREP’s 31st performance season.

The show presents themes of inclusivity, equality, and celebrating differences. Director Missy Maramara noted the story’s dramatic question — How do queer folk find love in a heteronormative society? — which, she said, was “a very brave of them to ask in the 2000s.”

“There’s been so much development since then… And you will find that as much as we progress, we still have a push back. Is it really about queer love versus heteronormativity?” she said in a press conference at the Ateneo De Manila University on Feb. 28. “The answer is constantly to transform. That’s what we hope our audiences feel as they watch the journey with us, that they do transform.”

Playing the titular role as ZsaZsa Zaturnnah is Kim Molina, who was offered the role in September last year by Ms. Maramara thorough a video call.

“I haven’t seen the movie. And during that time, I hadn’t even read the comics yet. So, I got to read everything. I got to see the clips. So, mayroon akong, ‘Paano ko siya gagawing ako, na hindi lang ako nangopya? (So, I asked myself, ‘How do I make it my own without imitating?’)” Ms. Molina said of her preparation for the role.

“I am just very grateful to the Ateneo, for Missy with helping me out through the process for ZsaZsa to have a new voice, and a new persona in a way,” she added.

Phi Palmos, Adrian Lindayag, and Shaun Ocrisma will alternate in the role of Ada. Joshua Cabiladas, Almond Bolante and Robert Bradley Hao will alternate as Didi, Ada’s sidekick. Juan Carlos Galiano, Jude Matthew Servilla, and Elian Dominguez alternate as Dodong, the object of Ada’s crush. And Kakki Teodoro, and Anyah de Guzman alternate as ZsaZsa’s nemesis, Queen Femina Suarestellar Baroux.

Also in the cast are Carlin Maximo, Jelena Evangelista, Dani Tan, and Heart Romeo as Queen Femina’s Amazonistas, Kyla Rivera as Aling Britney, and other members of the Ateneo Blue Repertory in the ensemble.

Kaki Teodoro who plays Queen Femina, is exploring a different form of femininity.

“In the 2000s, there was a concept of hyper femininity [such as the] supermodel,” Ms. Teodoro said.  “What does it mean to be hyper feminine now? Ano ’yung pagiging (What did it mean to be) hyper feminine then?” she added, citing the recent popularity of the art of drag in mainstream media in the Philippines.

“There is a similarity between ZsaZsa and Femina. But it’s ZsaZsa’s choice that makes all the difference because of her identity as a baklang parlorista (a gay beautician).She could easily hate everyone else in the town, but she doesn’t. And it’s that choice of love and transformation, which makes all the difference. And I think that’s something that we could bring into this generation,” said Anya de Guzman who alternates with Ms. Teodoro.

“ZsaZsa Zaturnnah is not only a superhero, she [is] an icon. She is a movement even, and she further expands the spaces that we have for love and inclusivity here in the Philippines and here in BlueREP at least,” BlueREP company manager Frankie Ramos said.

“Inclusivity is a message that we wish to impart to our audiences, and it is a conversation that we wish to have for the rest of the Filipino community,” she said.

For ticket inquiries, contact Dani Villa (0917-139-4640), or send an e-mail to bluerep.house@gmail.com. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ateneobluerepertory. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman