Dani Girl: Reimagining and Re-staging Hope

Published · Thursday, July 11, 2019 12:04 PM

When Dani Girl first premiered in Manila back in 2014 as The Sandbox Collective’s maiden production, the show received wide acclaim from both audiences and critics alike. Stage actress Lea Salonga called it “perfection” in its simplicity and execution, while METRO Magazine praised it as a play that “refreshes the mind and soul and touches your heart and spirit.”

This exhilarating musical by Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond follows a girl’s magical and transformative journey. Far from sitting back and letting cancer take over, 9-year-old Dani Lyons sets off on a whimsical quest to find her hair and figure out the answer to the question, “Why is cancer?” Together with her fellow warrior and bestfriend Marty, they go on a journey of lightsaber duels, imaginary game shows, blasting off to outer space, and all the silly games in between—proof that a child’s imagination and fighting spirit have no bounds nor limits.

But what makes the re-staging of Dani Girl different five years down the road?

While the production is thrilled to bring back members of the original cast, it is also pleased to welcome fresh, new faces to the stage. Joining the cast is theater veteran,character actor, singer and voice talent, Juliene Mendoza who alternates with Lorenz Martinez in the role of Raph, Dani’s imaginary friend and guardian angel. Mendoza was last seen in Air Supply’s All Out of Love and a musical adaptation of Lualhati Bautista’s Dekada ‘70.

Known for playing the titular role in the Asian premiere of Matilda and Young Nala in the first international tour of The Lion King, Felicity Kyle Napuli also joins the cast as young Dani Lyons, while Daniel Drilon, known for his performance in Fun Home and Newsies, alternates as Dani’s best friend and fellow warrior, Marty. “Having actual kids alternating as Dani and Marty adds a new, vibrant, creative energy to the show. It also invigorates with a wondrous perspective from actors who are closer to the age of the characters they’re playing,” shared Dani Girl director Toff de Venecia who returns to the director’s chair after 2015’s No Filter 2.0.

A new emphasis on hope is also unique to the 2019 re-staging of Dani Girl. In a world seemingly dominated by pain and suffering, the show aims to uphold the presence of hope amidst struggle. The show hopes to remind audiences that human beings have the innate ability to cope and overcome, and that hope can sometimes take on a different form, one that isn’t readily available to the naked eye. With hope as a thematic cornerstone, this season’s re-staging of Dani Girl is poised to serve as a beacon of light in a seemingly bleak world.

As The Sandbox Collective marks its fifth year of producing new, groundbreaking and cutting-edge theatrical work, Dani Girl also serves as a celebration of the child like innocence, wonder, imagination, courage and hope that people often forget and lose as full-fledged adults.

Similar to the social and community aspect of Every Brilliant Thing, The Sandbox Collective will be working hand in hand with institutions and organizations specializing in cancer care and awareness. Working with warriors, survivors, doctors and specialists will lend a more truthful, timely and relevant perspective to the show’s cause.

Dani Girl: A Musical About Hope will star Philstage Gawad Buhay awardee, Rebecca Coates in the title role of Dani. She is set to alternate with Felicity Kyle Napuli. Luigi Quesada will return as Dani’s best friend and fellow warrior, Marty. He will be sharing the role with new cast member, Daniel Drilon. Returning cast members include Awit award-winning actress Shiela Valderrama-Martinez and Pam Imperial who will be alternating as Katharine Lyons, Dani’s mother. Meanwhile, stage veteran Lorenz Martinez returns and alternates with new cast member Juliene Mendoza in the role of Raph.

Toff de Venecia makes his much-awaited directorial comeback in this re-staging of Dani Girl. He is at the helm once more as director and executive producer. Joining him is Sab Jose as assistant director and marketing and public relations director. Completing the artistic team are Ejay Yatco as musical director, Stephen Viñas as choreographer, Faust Peneyra as scenographer and costume designer, Miggy Panganiban as lighting designer, Joee Mejias as projection & video designer and Myrene Santos as hair and makeup designer

Santi Santamaria leads the production team as co-executive producer (9 WorksTheatrical). Rounding out the production team are Anna Santamaria as operations and finance director, Maine Manalansan as design director, Elliza Aurelio as associate producer, Pauline Gaerlan as production manager, Myka Cue as marketing and public relations associate, Jonjon Martin as public relations manager and Anissa Aguila as head stage manager.

Dani Girl: A Musical About Hope will open on August 10, 2019 and will have a limited engagement until September 1, 2019 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue, Makati City. Tickets are now available through Ticketworld online.

Dani Girl: A Musical About Hope is co-presented by The Sandbox Collective and 9Works Theatrical, together with Make-A-Wish Philippines. Special thanks to Privato Hotel Group, official hotel partner, Toy Kingdom and St. Luke’s Medical Center;institutional partners Carewell Community Foundation, Inc., Childhaus, Make-A-Wish Philippines and Cancervants; community partners Pineapple Lab, Classic Chef, K Best,and DC Superheroes Cafe; official media partners Theater Fans Manila, Young Star and Art+ Magazine.

DANI GIRL by Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond With music by Michael Kooman and book and lyrics by Christopher Dimond, 

Dani Girl: A Musical About Hope is presented through special arrangement and licensing with Samuel French.


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