Hunk plays Japanese gigolo with a ‘pearl’
Amadís Ma. Guerrero (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - So there is this play titled Happiness Is a Pearl by Rody Vera. It’s all about two Japayukis fighting over a handsome Japanese gigolo with a “pearl” embedded under the skin of his sexual apparatus (bolitas if you want to be risqué about it.)

Three actresses alternate in the role of the Japayuki named Mari (Ruth Alferez, Cath Go and Camille Tiu). And another three as the Japayuki Maria (Ira Ruzz, Shiela Espina and Mary Grace Saldo). The seductive gigolo Kenji is played by Tomas Miranda and Jerome Rosalin. It was Tomas (nicknamed TJ) whom we caught that day.

Kenji decides it is Maria whom he loves, and they fly back to the Philippines. This enrages Mari who follows them, and the stage is set for another confrontation.

The play is a production of Roeder Camañag’s Artists Playground, and directed by Paul Jake Paule. It is ongoing until July 3 during weekends (2 p.m. and 8 p.m. shows) at 1701 the Little Room Upstairs, Landsdale Tower (Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City).

It is intimate, black theater, with a limited seating capacity; one can almost reach out and touch the players. Production design is minimal. The play is enhanced by mood music and tango-ballroom dancing (“Tango is the dance of conflict,” said the director).

Tomas/Kenji has fewer scenes than the two Japayukis, who emote, dance and scream all over the place, as the roles call for this. But Tomas as the magnificent gigolo makes every scene count; and he mesmerizes the audience with his stage presence, gym-sculpted body and natural, low-key acting.

It turns out that the young actor has already done four indie films — Dayang Asu, Kapatiran, Ned’s Project and AWOL.

Dayang Asu, directed by Bor Ocampo, is all about politicians who have no qualms about using and killing people. Here, Tomas played the role of buddy to Jun Jun Quintana, the star. Ned’s Project, shot in Quezon and directed by Lem Lorca, starred Angeli Bayani as a lesbian who wants to have a baby. Tomas played Angeli’s friend but he was not the baby-maker; that honor went to Biboy Ramirez.

In AWOL, directed by Enzo Williams and shot in Laguna near the city of seven lakes, Tomas is one of the elite Scout Rangers under the command of Gerald Anderson. It is a war picture. One of its action scenes shows a boat blown up in the lake. The actors playing the soldiers underwent military training.

“Sobrang intense ang ginawa namin,” recalled Tomas. Shooting has just ended and the film is up for release.

His star-making turn as Kenji marks Tomas’ debut in theater. “I was looking for a raw talent and asked our sister company The Talent Factory,” shared Roeder, who is artistic director of Artists Playground. “Ricky Gallardo recommended him, showed me his picture, he auditioned and got the role. At first medyo mahiyain (there are simulated sex scenes in the play, with the gigolo clad only in briefs). But later on he got the hang of it; he had the right attitude.”

He added, “Mahaba ang pasensya niya, unlike some indie actors. He has the right attitude for the theater.”

Tomas himself said, “Malaking difference between theater and film. Sa indie tuloy-tuloy ang acting, lahat gumagana. Kahit on the spot puede yan. That cannot be for theater. Sa theater mahabang proseso bago magampanan ang role. You have to sacrifice time, effort.”

Tomas, 22, is from Pampanga and holds a B.S. in Hotel & Restaurant Management from Guagua National Colleges. He plans to take up postgraduate studies in the culinary arts (both parents cook well), while continuing with his film and theater career.

Roeder was right. He has the right attitude. To succeed, that is.

(For details, call Artists Playground at 0917-8286742.)

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