Rivalry: The Ateneo-La Salle Musical coming to Cagayan de Oro summer of 2012
Setting the stage for an age-old rivalry
The decades-old feud between Ateneo and La Salle has always ignited lengthy discussions and passionate debate among those of the blue and green persuasion. While the rivalry has considerably mellowed over the years, it gets renewed every time the UAAP season begins.
In January of next year, musical director and Atenean Ed Gatchalian (“Celeste Music Hour,” “Pilita and Jackie Lou,” and “Champoy ”) is hoping the famed competition between these 2 universities will also get as warm a reception on stage thru “Rivalry: Ateneo-La Salle The Musical.”
Set in 1968, the story revolves around 2 families—one blue (Ateneo) and the other green (La Salle). In the center of the action are two young men— both star basketball players of their respective schools— vying for the affections of a beautiful coed from a nearby girls’ school. While the plot will certainly attract the alumni of both schools to flock to the theater, Gatchalian and his creative team believe it has something for everyone. After all, love and conflict are 2 universal concepts familiar to people— no matter what school they’re from.
Putting it together
The idea for this musical began over thirty years ago when Noel Trinidad, actor, singer and good friend of Gatchalian (from their “Champoy” days) approached him with an idea for an original musical—only it wasn’t about Ateneo and La Salle.
“It was supposed to be �Crispa-Toyota: May araw din kayo’ (inspired by �Damn Yankees’) those two being the stellar teams in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) at that time. It never materialized,” Gatchalian explained.
Years passed and in 2010, Gatchalian started working with known theater writer/director Jaime del Mundo (“Little Mermaid,” “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”) on “100-A Musical Journey in C Major” for the Insular Life Centennial celebration. Writing original music for the play renewed Gatchalian’s passion in pursuing his dream project. This time, however, instead of Crispa and Toyota, Gatchalian decided to zero in on two strong UAAP teams: arch rivals Ateneo and La Salle.
“The story has been in my mind for years because I lived those days. So I had a lot of nice memories and I just kept on putting them together. But when I decided to really be serious about this, the first thing I did was I consulted 3 La Sallite friends (Juan Miguel Llamas, Tony Cervantes and Jimmy Morales). Based on their input, I did dummy lyrics. Then I started on the music,” he recounted.
It was then that the synopsis for “Rivalry: Ateneo-Lasalle the Musical” began to take shape. Gatchalian’s music needed words and he knew exactly who to call— Joel Trinidad (“Crush Hour,” “Defending the Caveman” and “Kaos”), theatre artist, lyricist and son of good friend, Noel.
“As an audition, I wrote one song for Tito Ed. I gave him the lyrics and he set them to music. That’s where it started,” Trinidad explained.
Soon, the songs began taking shape and the story started coming together but Gatchalian knew he needed somebody to help him put structure to his vision. Del Mundo was the perfect man for the job.
“I always said that I would be the perfect person to direct this because I don’t have strong feelings of loyalty to either school. I mean, I went to La Salle Greenhills until Grade 3 but really, I see both sides and my job is to find the commonality,” del Mundo explained.
Serious collaboration on Rivalry began with Gatchalian working on the music, Trinidad penning the lyrics and del Mundo writing the book— three creative minds, each with his own working style. While this has posed a challenge on several occasions (they are all used to working on their own), all three agree that the creative process has also been quite enjoyable.
Del Mundo elaborated, “We are very open about getting convinced by each other. Everyone is responsible for their own work but we’re responsible together.”
It’s NOT High School Musical
The trio is very excited to show the theater going public a story that is not what they would typically expect.
“Joel told me that people were wondering if it was going to be like High School Musical. It never occurred to me to write that kind of show. It won’t be like that at all. There will be basketball but it’s not the way people would expect it,” Del Mundo pointed out.
Trinidad added, “People will see something they haven’t seen and realize something that they haven’t realized before. But we’re hoping it won’t just be something tied to Ateneo and La Salle. Like, when you watch Ms Saigon for instance, you don’t think of the Vietnam War. It’s about the love story, the conflict and how it changed people.”
Realization of a 30 year old dream
Of course, Rivalry would not be complete without another Trinidad playing a special part in it. Gatchalian has actually written a part for his good friend, Noel, and is looking forward to seeing his dream project come full circle. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he explained with a smile.
Noel’s son is just as excited to see his father on stage, singing a song Joel has written especially for him.
“I’ve never written anything for my dad to sing before. It’s probably my favorite number. It’s very vaudeville, and my dad will sing the hell out of it, “explained Trinidad.
Rivalry: Ateneo-La Salle The Musical opens on January 27, 2012 at the Meralco Theatre and is produced by The 4th Wall Theatre Company. Ticket outlets to be announced later.