Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
Cris Villonco is one of the busiest theater actors. She currently stars in two simultaneous productions: Resort’s World’s “Sound of Music” and Repertory Phil. Leading Ladies. The latter is running until March 4, 2012, Sunday at Onstage Greenbelt. Sound of Music is extended until May 27. As if that’s not enough she will also have a major role in the upcoming “Jekyll & Hyde” with Jett Pangan and Michael Williams alternating in the title role.
“Leading Ladies” is easily the funniest stage production this year. James Stacey and Topper Fabregas play the gender bending roles of Leo Clark and Jack Gable. The two Shakespearean actors pretend to be ladies in claiming an inheritance from sick old lady Florence played by Juno Henares.
While Cris is a natural for her role of Maria in Sound of Music, playing the bright and happy personality of Meg in Leading Ladies is a little more difficult; “I do better emotionally with a sadder character rather than a happy character. I am not a bubbly person in real life. I’m not bubbly at all. So for me to be able to pull that off as Maria and Meg as is whew!”
Everyone was impressed with Villonco’s performance in “Leading Ladies”. Her voice and look is reminiscent of the legendary stage and film actress Debbie Reynolds. The accent and delivery of lines is almost worlds apart from the 3 roles that she is juggling. She jokes with the demands, “Yes I’m very confused for the moment. This one has an American accent, Maria obviously has a British-Austrian accent. Jekyll & Hyde has a very uppity British accent. When they’re combined I get quite confused but I love it for me to be doing this so willingly. Tita Baby (Barredo) always says that every character is very unique. Only that particular character will say those lines. So it’s true. As Meg I don’t think I’ll be talking in a British accent and singing. ‘High on a hill with a lonely goat herd’. They are 3 different characters different emotions. That’s what keeps us sane.”
The physical demands of playing several roles at the same time also takes its toll literally getting from one show to the next. “Telling you the truth on Sunday, which I’m dreading, I’m doing the show here then I’m running to Resort’s World. There’s a 30-minute window to do the 7pm show. So it’s a major challenge for me and I’m a little bit scared. Bahala na si God.
Cris shares one important trait with her Leading Ladies character Meg and that’s love for theater, “I can definitely relate to her. She’s very smart and yet she’s silly at the same time to fall in love with someone like Leo Clark. And yes I love the theater it’s a major decision to decide to do theater. Especially here in the Philippines because we all know how that works, how challenging it is financially and emotionally. I love doing this show and I love doing that character.”
She has cast mates from two different productions Audie Gemora was George Von Trapp in Sound of Music and is the Artistic Director of Repertory Phil. Gemora is also the head of Talent5 the actor’s development arm of TV5. On March 17, In Jekyll & Hyde, Cris will be acting opposite Jett Pangan and her Leading Ladies director Michael Williams. “It’s my second time to share the stage with Jett. The first time was Legally Blonde. But this is the first time as leading man. I am just in awe of both Michael Williams and him. They bring different things. They give different Jekylls and Hydes to the character. And I am so excited because whether it’s Jett or it’s Michael it’s gonna be a really good show.”