Not every country has a national novel, but the Philippines does and McFadden Music and Redlands Events are bringing it to the stage this month.
Though it’s a key part of the Filipino identity, producer Peter Fleming says Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere (Tagalog for Touch Me Not) is also a “universal” story. It tells the story of a man and a woman’s love for each other, for their country and for the idea of freedom.
Mr Fleming said it was his wife who inspired him to bring the novel to stage.
“The show is in a sense a love letter to my wife at one level,” he says.
Mr Fleming met his wife when she was studying in Australia and he went over to the Philippines to spend time with her. At the time she was working at Rizal university which he soon learned was named for the country’s national hero.
“I read his book and I thought it is just such a romantic passionate piece that I very quickly thought I needed to musicalise it,” he explains.
The musical has been in the works for over three years and with it being a story so key to the Filipino identity the creative team has been working in close collaboration with the Filipino community.
Putting the novel on stage required reworking some elements of the story, but Mr Fleming says this doesn’t change the essence of the story and that the Filipino cast has had a very positive response.
“When I go into the rehearsals it’s like the best therapy I’ve ever had. You should see the total engagement of the cast with the material, and passion for the story.”
Until Apr 6. The Parramatta Riverside Theatre, Corner Market &, Church St, Parramatta, $35-$49+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.riversideparramatta.com.au
By Allison Hore