MANILA -- The last time we saw Kayla Rivera on stage, she was playing the piano and performing the songs of legendary composer-singer Carole King. She gave a magnificent performance in Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group's "Beautiful" last year, we wanted to see more of her doing other musicals.
To sum it all up, she was so good in that role she made us feel the stage move under our feet, in a positive way. Then she disappeared, or took a short break.
Three weekends ago, Rivera returned to theater via the reimagined "Joseph The Dreamer" for Trumpets. She is Asenath, wife of lead character Joseph, who is played by the new certified theater heartthrob, Sam Concepcion.
"Joseph The Dreamer" is also Rivera's first with Trumpets, or better yet, outside Atlantis. Theater followers would know she made her professional theater debut in Atlantis' "In the Heights" in 2011, followed by "Aladdin," "The Addam's Family," "Rock of Ages," and "Side Show."
A few days ago, we threw Rivera some queries about her role and new "home" outside the Atlantis.
Q: So how's it been after the two-weekend run?
A: It’s been amazing. Every hand that touched the show worked so hard to create this reinvention of "Joseph the Dreamer," so to see and feel how positively it’s been received by our audiences, has left us all with very grateful and full hearts.
Q: Now there's an extension, would you say it's a mix of happiness because there will be more shows but at the same time, a bit of sadness because it's going to end na?
A: Definitely a mix of both. It was unexpected to go from a one-show closing weekend, to suddenly five. God is good and He’s allowed us to share Joseph’s story, a reminder and message of love, faith and forgiveness, with even more audiences. At the same time, it’s sad for us to part ways as it feels like the entire "Joseph The Dreamer" company has become a family that was built off of so much love and support for one another, especially throughout the challenging rehearsal process that led up to the shows.
Q: There's been a lot of positive reviews, especially about you. To quote: Emil Hofilena of Philippine Daily Inquirer: "As the musical’s narrator and Joseph’s eventual bride, Kayla Rivera just refuses to sing a false note." Ryan Flores of Palabas Tayo: "Kayla Rivera plays Asenath, the narrator/wife of Joseph, who with her soulful voice, captivates the audience" Fred Hawson of ABS-CBN News: "Kayla Rivera, who exuded an energetic stage presence in this role, sometimes lacking from her previous roles." Vlad Bunoan of ABS-CBN News: "...But the big surprise for me was Kayla Rivera who was truly scintillating and drop-dead gorgeous." What is your reaction to all these praises?
A: I feel beyond grateful to be a part of this show and journey that it’s taken me on, spiritually and emotionally. To be recognized with positive reviews is humbling and an appreciated bonus to the entire experience. I have so much love and thanks for each review that’s been written, and every person that has taken the time to join us at the theater.
Q: Showbizzy question: Is it true that you are very inspired in tackling this role? Or better yet, is someone in the cast making you inspired these days?
A: Haha, the priority has been the show so no dating life at the moment! I also got a puppy recently, so after rehearsals/shows, my spare time has been mainly spent with him!
Q: So, how is Sam Concepcion as co-actor on stage?
A: Sam is so positive and hard-working. It’s kept the best of energy circling throughout the cast. His talent is a given, but seeing his work ethic, how kind he is and how dedicated he has remained to his craft throughout the years, makes him and his work that much more admirable.
Q: How is it working with directors Paolo Valenciano and assistant director Nel Gomez?
A: Direk Paolo and Direk Nel both brought their individual expertise to the table to form the show we have. Direk Paolo being an award-winning concert and events director had a clear vision of what he wanted, where Direk Nel’s experience as a theater actor and director, aided in allowing this said vision grow and come to life on stage. I’m grateful to have had this chance to work with the both of them, and hopefully it isn’t the last time to do so.
Q: How about with the magnificent Bituin Escalante? Isn't she amazing?
A: Being in a show with Ate Bito, has been such a blessing -- I’m confident in saying our whole cast feels the same way. Every time we watch her in rehearsal, or in the wings during shows, we’re completely captivated. Her stage presence (in addition to her incredible voice), is guaranteed to move you. I’ve been lucky enough to share a dressing room with her throughout the run of "Joseph The Dreamer," and who she is as a person, is just as, if not even more, amazing as her voice and presence is.
Q: I think this has been asked during the press con but now since the production has been ongoing, how's it acting with Trumpets? Or better yet, ouside Atlantis? Not that there's a comparison but like what Myke Salomon said during the presscon, you're an Atlantis baby.
A: I was initially nervous to be working with an entirely new creative team, asides Nel Gomez (who was also the assistant director of "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"), mainly because I was unsure if I could personally do it without the guidance of Direk Bobby Garcia and other Atlantis creatives that I began and have done all my previous musicals with. But coming into this show with the discipline and punctuality that doing Atlantis shows instilled in me along with the direction of the "Joseph The Dreamer" creatives, kept me on my toes and pushed me to get through challenges that came my way in the rehearsal process.
Q: In relation to that, after Trumpets, do you see yourself accepting more roles from them and other theater companies (besides Atlantis)?
A: If another opportunity to perform arises and its a role that I’m excited to do, of course I'd be honored to do it!
Q: For those who haven't watched "Joseph The Dreamer," what do you want to tell them, now that it's on its final 5-performance weekend?
A: Our show and its message that embodies love, faith and forgiveness has the capacity to connect with our audience in a very special way, so if you’ve yet to watch, we invite you to join us at the theatre for one (or more!) of our last 5 shows at Maybank theatre this Friday, March 6 to Sunday, March 8. Thank you so much to all that have watched, and made this extension possible!