On a personal theater fan note, Angel in Rent has always been one of my favorite theater characters. In Rent, he's a symbol of true love and passion. He wasn't afraid to be who he was. The role of Angel required a lot of skill and research with a wide vocal range and mad dance skills, so I'm always on the lookout who would be playing the role.
Joining the line of the talented actors who portrayed the role, music student Job Bautista has been portraying the role of Angel for the 3 consecutive runs that NineWorks Theatrical has staged the show, and in each performance, he gathers a big number of fans. He also became a close personal friend of mine as I got to work with him during the first run and secondly with a shoot with his dance group, Polecats.
It was Valentine's day of last year when I first worked with AJ, as he's fondly called. I was the makeup artist assigned to him that day. The first thing he told me was, "Just have fun with my looks, I don't have to look necessarily pretty and all-girly since my character does drag." By the time the first show came to an end and it was time for an evening show, AJ and I were having so much fun creating different looks.
I would kid that AJ was my 2010 Valentine's date. These were pictures I dug from my archives taken from the February 14, 2010 show. He had to go through a lot of tissue and concealer to pale the lip we used Ruby Woo in since we played with a Marilyn Monroe peg in the Happy New Year scene.
AJ did so much justice to the role of Angel even bringing me to tears during his dying scene, even if I've watched the play so many times around. He brought the role with so much convincing power it was hard to believe that the February 2010 run of Rent was actually his first theater experience ever. AJ didn't just potray Angel. He became Angel, and you could feel his love for Collins during their duet I'll Cover You I insisted that I only march to that song and no other on my wedding day. Despite the instant impact he gave to the audience, AJ remains down-to-earth and sweet, someone who's hard not to love.
I asked AJ if he could answer a few questions for me to feature in this blog and I'm glad that he agreed. For friends and fans of AJ, here he is on the hot seat:
Forever our Angel: Job portraying his role as Angel in Rent, photo by Sundee Guevara
Bambi: Tell us how you auditioned for RENT? Was Angel the first and only choice you had or were you auditioning for another role initially?
Job Bautista: I auditioned for Rent when I overheard a conversation of a friend in school about which song she was going to use for her Rent audition. Being the nosy little bugger that I was, I listened on in and found out that the audition was a day or two later. I scrambled on the Internet for details and tried to muster enough brain power to memorize 2 rock songs. I didn’t have any character in mind that I wanted to audition for. I was actually aiming for an ensemble role. I knew competition would be tough and this would be my first foray into professional theater so I figured my chances to get a lead role were bleak.
Bambi: Why Angel? Last February 2010 was your first pro theater experience ever, right?
JB: Yes, it was.
Bambi: You played your role with so much convincing power you moved the audiences with your role as the kindhearted Angel. What did you do to prep up for your role? Who were your pegs?
JB: Well to begin with I never saw the show onstage so my resources left me with YouTube videos and the actual Rent movie. After knowing what I was in for (i.e. jumping on a table, a vivid sexual death scene, AIDS afflicted characterization), I delved in to the more intricate process of my characterization. I had to know how it truly felt living in the eyes of someone who is immuno-compromised. I visited the Philippine General Hospital and RITM in Alabang to talk to doctors and those afflicted with HIV to truly get a grasp of the disease and the implications of having it. This urged me to join the movement for AIDS awareness and helped me become an active advocate of social groups like Positivism and Yoga for Life. After getting familiar with the technicalities of the disease I moved on to the more fun part of my characterization, DRAG (which we both had fun after my first turn, I actually waited and prayed I'll be assigned to do AJ's makeup again)!!!! I watched drag shows and went to local gay bars to get into the funk of it all. Thank God I have a lot of gay friends… I can’t say I have a particular peg… of course I’ve seen Wilson Jermaine Heredia and Justin Johnson but I’ve taken a lot of my nuances from everyday fabulous gay guys I know.
Bambi: You mentioned Positivism and Yoga for Life. Tell us more about it.
JB: Positivism and Yoga For Life are local organizations whose aims are quite similar in fashion, they are both concerned with the well-beings of those who are immuno-compromised and those affected by it whether it be a family member or a friend. Positivism uses a web-based magazine to reach to its audience. They produce articles featuring citizens living the life with the disease and uplifting stories of triumph and hope. Their main cause is to be a spokesmeduim to offer comfort and guidance as well as increase awareness and breed open-mindedness, so they can shed all negativity and embrace positivism.
Yoga for Life on the other hand is a community-based yoga series created by Charmaine Cu-Unjieng, a Yale-educated HIV specialist, and Paulo Leonido, a fitness expert and personal trainer. YFL is a group which focuses on creating a safe and open environment for HIV-afflicted individuals and advocates of HIV awareness through their yoga program. Their practice opens an environment where individuals are free to practice living a healthy lifestyle free of judgement and negativity. With positive and negative members practicing side by side they induce conversation and denounce possible negative myths and stereotypes of people living with the virus.
(for more information on these social groups, you could visit their websites at: www.positivism.ph and http://rainbowbloggersphils.blogspot.com/2011/01/yoga-for-life-on-philippine-star.html)
Bambi: And the quick costume changes, boy to drag, drag to boy, boy to sick boy. Remember backstage? How was it this time with a smaller stage and a smaller backstage even (while doing the run at Rockwell Cinema)?
JB: Well it’s more of the same madness… Though the stage became smaller the chaos of putting on my makeup and removing it was just as chaotic as it was the first run.
Bambi: Has Angel always been your dream role?
JB: Well … one of… I’m really not the type to go for lead roles. It seriously, scares me to be in the limelight.
Bambi: How was playing Angel at the Rockwell run and the 2011 run different from playing it the first time?
JB: Playing Angel this time around was a lot more fun. I guess this time instead of me trying to nail the character I’m now just having more fun and playing around trying to find new things to add.
Bambi: Contact, i.e. Angel's death scene, in contrast with the funeral was a high energy and high adrenalin number, which involved Angel submitting himself to death with steamy sexy scenes from the cast couples like Maureen and Joanne and Mimi and Roger. What's your interpretation of this number?
JB: The orgasmic blob that is the death scene represents to me Angel’s struggle with the disease and the battle to stay alive for the people he loves. He goes through a fury of emotions, pain, anger, erotic bliss, pleasure, joy, and the feeling of surrender just in that one moment. I guess, we decided to use the explicit sexual imagery to heighten that state of struggle. Because sex is also a means of ultimate Contact not only physically but emotionally. As we know, it is also one of the means of infection of HIV. In the end as I say Take me, take me, today for YOU tomorrow for me, today ME tomorrow you tomorrow. It’s as if I was saying that make it me instead of them… let them know that in my death that they live on. This sets the emotional rollercoaster in the second act which ends with Angel's legacy continued on by Mimi living.
Bambi: Aside from Rent being restaged again at RCBC this February 2011, what could we again expect with you, with your blossoming career in theater?
JB: Well… I don’t know really… as of now I have to concentrate on getting my Bachelor of Music in Voice and getting even more fit being the only Tomcat (male poledancer) with the premiere pole dance company in the Philippines, Polecats. (More on Polecats on a future post)
Job on the pole: Job Bautista is the sole male dancer of the pole dancing group Polecats, and here he is in our photoshoot where I did his makeup. Photo by James Oliver
Bambi: What roles would you like to do next time? Are you willing to do more out-of-the-box roles like Angel?
JB: I would love to do something totally different from Angel the next time around. Really discover my personal acting sprectrum. Of course roles like that of Angel are a big welcome…
Bambi: Name your best memories in theater.
JB: There are so many that I can’t decide on one… the ones I do remember though are the ones when I’m all frazzled out and things in the theater are going haywire…my dance is off…or I break on a note… At those moments I realize that I’m truly living when I run on adrenaline trying to make this the best show ever every night. =)
You could catch Job Bautista reprise his role in Rent this weekend. Show schedules are: 4Mar 8pm, 5Mar 330pm & 8pm, 6Mar 430pm all at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium at RCBC Plaza Makati. For Tickets, call 5575860, 5867105, and 0917-5545560. You could also call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or visit www.9workstheatrical.com for more details.