2 leading men on a roll: Albie Casiño and Anthony Rosaldo

Albie Casiño, 30, who has been with the Viva conglomerate since 2022, now headlines Vivamax’s first film this February, “Salawahan,” where he is teamed up with the company’s leading sexpot, the half-Korean Angeli Khang.

Salawahan,” which is not a remake of the late National Artist (for Film) Ishmael Bernal’s 1979 film of the same title, is directed by Jeffrey Hidalgo, the singer-actor who is now more interested in helming films than singing and acting.

In the media huddle held recently at Viva Cafe in Cubao, QC, Khang was no-show. But a cheery Casiño was there, along with fellow cast members Chloe Jenna and Van Allen Ong and a equally pepped-up Hidalgo. 

Casiño readily announced that he didn’t think twice about disrobing in his scenes with Khang, since he has already built up his body for showing off in Vivamax projects. Toward the end of the event, he untucked his long-sleeved shirt and showed off his abs.

The actor has been doing Vivamax movies since 2022, starting with Moonlight Butterfly, which paired him with Christine Bermas under Joel Lamangan’s direction.

In Salawahan, which starts streaming on Vivamax on 2 February, Casiño and Ong portray brothers, both of whom would fall prey to the charms of one woman (Khang).

Hidalgo, too, has been happily directing Vivamax films, and even appeared in one in 2022, in which one scene had him disrobing, too. The movie was “Sugar Baby,” topbilled by Christine Bermas.

The ex-member of the youth vocal quartet Smokey Mountain directed Ligaw na Bulaklak (but an original, despite the cliche title) for Vivamax in 2022 with a script by Dennis Marasigan, now vice president and artistic director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

We met Marasigan on the sidelines of the Salawahan mediacon since he is part of Hidalgo’s movie production group headed by Hidalgo’s manager, Lou Gopez. Marasigan confided that he has also written screenplays for Vivamax and directed a film for the company, Do You Think I am Sexy?(2022).

Hidalgo’s Ligaw na Bulaklak was bannered by Chloe Jenna, who has a cameo in Salawahan. The script is by the award-winning Racquel Villavicencio, who has been quietly supplying Vivamax with a stream of screenplays including those directed by Hidalgo, such as Lampas Langit and Eva, all streamed in 2022.

Exciting year for Anthony Rosaldo

Two events this year make 2024 very exciting for GMA7 Sparkle star Anthony Rosaldo: his second solo concert at the Music Museum, Switch, on 31 January, and his headlining the musical Rent of 9 Works Theatrical, set for restaging this year although only its cast has been announced. No playdates and venue yet.

At the recent mediacon for Switch at Fin and Claw restaurant in QC, Rosaldo confided that he has become so passionate about theater musicals since last year that most of the songs he will perform in Switch are hits from Broadway and Pinoy musicals.

Two of his guests are Pinoy musical theater superstars Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and Gian Magdangal. Another guest is Khalil Ramos, who, like Rosaldo, had his triumphant first musical theater “baptism” — Ramos in 9 Works Theatrical’s Tick,Tick… Boom! and Rosaldo in Full House Theater Company’s Ang Huling El Bimbo.

Both Sparkle stars played the lead in their respective musicals. Another Sparkle star, Rita Daniela, is also a guest in Switch.

Lauchengco-Yulo, Full House Theater artistic director, became Rosaldo’s acting coach in solo rehearsals for AHEB, whose director-choreographer was Dexter Santos of Dulaang UP. Lauchengco-Yulo was also the musical’s associate director.

Magdangal was the adult Hector while Rosaldo played the young Hector in the musical’s restaging from April to June last year. It was also Magdangal that Rosaldo watched in an online streaming of the musical in 2020, during the onslaught of the pandemic.

AHEB was first staged in 2018 and re-staged in 2019. Magdangal mostly played the adult Hector, though he had alternates in some stagings.

Rosaldo initially auditioned for AHEB by sending videos of himself singing. This was in 2022. The company responded by asking him to audition in person and sent him a page or two of the script for the young Hector character. He showed up, did the reading with actor Paw Castillo and eventually got the role.

“Before I faced them, I thought I was going to throw up all my insides,” Rosaldo recalled.

But one reason Rosaldo had the confidence to audition for AHEB was he used to sing as a band vocalist before he joined GMA7’s singing contest The Clash. His band sang many of the Eraserheads songs featured in AHEB.

Rosaldo isn’t the only Kapuso star joining the cast of Rent. Thea Astley and Garrett Bolden will also portray major roles in the Jonathan Larson musical, which won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Musical.

9 Works Theatrical previously staged Rent in 2010 and 2011. In 2023, it mounted another Jonathan Larson musical, Tick, Tick… BOOM!, starring Khalil Ramos in the lead role. 

We wonder if Casiño would have the heart for theater sooner or later. If theater stalwart Marasigan has invaded Vivamax (though he was for years an assistant director in the films of the likes of Bernal and Joey Gosiengfiao of Regal Films fame), Vivamax actors should have the boldness (pun un-intended) to step on the live theater stage.