MANILA, Philippines — When the world stopped due to the pandemic, all our dreams and aspirations have seemingly gone on a standstill. Suddenly, the paths that once laid clear before us have been muddled, blocked off, or completely destroyed beyond repair. This is especially true for creatives in the performing arts where live shows have taken on a completely new form, devoid of the energy and applause one would typically get on a live stage. All these feelings have been charged into the production of “Still”, a musical narrative that takes place in a music camp closed off during the first months of the pandemic.
Slated as the first Filipino Viu Original, the 8-part series has been wholly written, produced, and filmed during this strange time we’re in. In effect, its story, dialogue, and songs were all created with the added layer of something we can all relate to, backed up by the emotional turmoil we’re all feeling: anxiety, loss, confusion, and the overwhelming urge to rise above it.
The series will have an exclusive preview (or PreViu) on September 10, 2021 on Ticket2Me, and if you’re still on the fence of whether or not you should join the party, hopefully this list will offer you some clarity. Here’s everything we know about “Still” so far:
It’s the creative baby of Philippine cinema, theater, and music powerhouses.
Still is a produced by Viu Philippines and This Side Up, in collaboration with Arkeofilms, TheaterFansManila.com, Flip Music, and Black Box Collab. The team behind the scenes is led by creator and showrunner Pat Valera, the two-time Palanca awardee playwright of Dekada ’70 (Musical) and Mula Sa Buwan. He is joined by Giancarlo Abarahan of Sila Sila, Paki, and Dagitab, and seasoned film, TV, and theater actor Nicco Manalo of Mula Sa Buwan, Ang Kuwento Nating Dalawa, and Tayo Sa Huling Buwan Ng Taon.
It is directed by Treb Monteras, the director behind internationally-renowned rap musical movie Respeto, and produced by multi-awarded film producer, documentarist, and festival director Monster Jimenez. In terms of music, songwriting and composing has been helmed by a team of talented creators, led by Nica Del Rosario, Matthew Chang, and Mike Shimamoto. While Del Rosario is the composer of viral hit Tala, Chang is an actor and singer-songwriter who wrote and directed music for Dekada ‘70 (Musical). Meanwhile, Shimamoto is a rising actor and singer-songwriter who also plays one of the main characters in Still, while participating in its music creation.
The cast is made up of a star-studded lineup from Philippine theater, television, and music.
While Still is definitely a product of some of the best musical creators in the Philippines, it’s on-screen team is just as impressive. With talents from the thriving local theater scene, to prominent performers from the mainstream, and those who have traversed the two worlds, Still is no doubt, going to be a production for the books.
One of the main characters is portrayed by Julie Anne San Jose, a multi-awarded and beloved singer, songwriter, actress, and television personality who has been bestowed with the crown as Asia’s Pop Diva. She’s joined by Christian Bautista who has been in the local, and regional, music and television scene for more than a decade now, with major hits under his name.
For local theater fans, this cast will surely be a treat to the eye (and ear) as big names from the industry join in on the project. Bituin Escalante, a celebrated Filipino icon in singing, hosting, and theater acting stars alongside Gab Pangilinan, who has consistently rose in everybody’s radar for her acclaimed performances in Ang Huling El Bimbo, Side Show, and Mula sa Buwan. Moreover, the cast is beefed up by even more names and acclaim: Gabby Padilla (FAMAS Best Actress Nominee for Billie and Emma, Kalel, 15), Lance Reblando Ang Huling El Bimbo. Wanted: Male Boarders, Disney’s The Lion King), and Abe Autea (Dekada ‘70 (Musical), Nana Rosa), and other theater scene-stealers MC Dela Cruz, Chaye Mogg, Roco Sanchez, Ian Hermogenes, and Shaira Opsimar.
The story follows a group of musicians in the middle of the pandemic.
We’ve had love stories told through split screen to depict dating’s new normal, commercials that have embodied the face mask and face shield ensemble, and now we have a musical series all about the creative journey amidst quarantine. The core story of Still is about a group of aspiring artists getting suck in a music camp when lockdowns were first implemented. Through their time together, they realize friendships, dreams, and large wells of emotions within them that lead to unforgettable musical performances.
The synopsis reads: Sab and Laura find themselves stranded in Balay along with other misfits, Iggy, Tugs, and Leigh, during the nationwide lockdown. During this time of isolation, their lives and stories intertwine through powerful & poignant music. Through song and stage, and with the guidance of mentors Nikolas and Annette, they hope and rage to prove to the world that they still have a voice–that they still matter.
The added layer that makes the series so special is that it is charged up by the authentic experiences of real performers struggling to rearrange their dreams in today’s world. But though not all of us, the audience, are artists and creatives, this is something we can all relate to in our own respective passions and industries. But this way, it’s all wrapped up in show-stopping songs.
You can get your ticket for the exclusive preview on Ticket2Me for the September 10, 2021 premiere. With the one-time ticket, you’ll get early access to all 8 episodes, following the weekly release, a free 6-month subscription to Viu Premium, and a free digital series chord book so you can jam along even after the stream.
We’re beyond excited for Still, especially knowing how the team on and off-screen are made up of powerhouse creatives undoubtedly going the extra mile to do Philippine musicals justice through an 8-episode series. We haven’t really gotten a lot of filmed musicals off the stage, and hopefully this production will open more doors for movie musicals and other series musicals to be written and produced with care, and shared for the world to enjoy.
Watch the official teaser trailer for Still below, and get your tickets!