One of my theater regrets in 2018 was not seeing M. Butterfly. The play, adapted from the Tony Award-winning piece by David Henry Hwang, was a hit when it was staged in Manila, winning three out of its six nominations at last year’s Aliw Awards. I also have a personal stake since my first literary work was a screenplay of Giaccomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, which I wrote when I was in the fifth grade. I’m not going to let it pass this time since it’s being staged again, and it’s going on a national tour!
Presented by Tony and Grammy award-winning producer Jhett Tolentino and FRONTROW Entertainment (producer of highly-acclaimed independent films Bhoy Intsik and Bwaya), the M. Butterfly National Tour 2019 was decided upon by the producers to bring this world-class masterpiece to those who did not have the opportunity to catch its 2018 Manila run.
It began its tour in Iloilo from February 14 to 17, and will be followed by performances in Dumaguete, Cebu, Davao, Manila, and Baguio.
M. Butterfly is inspired by the Puccini opera, and tells the fatal romance between René Gallimard, a member of the French embassy in China, and the Chinese opera star Song Liling. It premiered on Broadway in 1988, winning three Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Feature Actor and Best Director. Its local adaptation won Best Play, Best Actor, and Best Director at last year’s Aliw Awards. It was also nominated for two Best Featured Actresses in a Play and Best Ensemble.
RS Francisco will be reprising his role as Song Liling, who he has portrayed in last year’s run and its debut run in Dulaang UP in 1990. Gallimard will be essayed by French actor Olivier Borten. They will be joined by Aira Igarta as Song Liling in select performances; and Jenine Desiderio, Norm McLeod, Lee O’Brian, Mayen Estanero, Maya Encila, Jasmine Salvo, Pheith Iena Ballug, Ullyses Basa, Sasa Cabalquinto, Franco Ferrer, and John Paul Ortenero.
The artistic team of M. Butterfly will be made up of Jhett Tolentino and RS Francisco (producers), Ohm David (set), Eric Pineda (costume), John Batalla (lighting), Jethro Joaquin (sound), Joed Balsamo (music) and Carissa Adea (choreography).
This year’s run will also benefit 10 charitable institutions: Iloilo Prima Galaw, Philippine National Red Cross Iloilo Chapter, The Children of Cebu Foundation, Silliman University Culture and Arts Council, the Arts Council of Cebu Foundation, Love the Children Foundation, House of Hope Foundation, Halfway Home for the Boys, and the St. Louis University Culture and Arts Center.
M. Butterfly will play at the Silliman University in Dumaguete from February 28 to March 3, at the SM Seaside City Centerstage in Cebu from March 14 to 17, at SM Lanang in Davao from March 28 to 31, at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater in Manila from May 8 to 19, and the St. Louis University in Baguio from May 30 to June 2.
Tickets are now available at SM Tickets at any SM Mall nationwide or online at SMTickets.com (for Iloilo, Davao, Cebu, Baguio); Culture and Arts Council Office, Silliman University through contact nos. (035) 422-4365, (0917) 300-0346, (0999) 797-7825 (for Dumaguete); and TicketWorld through contact no. (02) 891-9999 or ticketworld.com (for Manila).