Cherie Gil Portrays High Society Life in PETA's Arbol de Fuego
On screen and on stage, veteran actress Cherie Gil has been breathing life to exacting characters of power, wealth, and strength, not to mention her latest role in a re-interpretation of the Anton Chekhov classic, The Cherry Orchard.
“My love is like a stone tied 'round my neck; it’s dragging me down to the bottom; but I love my stone. I can’t live without it.” These are one of the famous lines by Madame Lyubov Andreivna Ranevskaya in Anton Chekhov’s last play, The Cherry Orchard, which will be adapted for the Filipino stage scene by the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA). The Madame herself is played by the Philippines' own Cherie Gil. Indeed the passionate actress cannot stand to refuse a role known for its illustration of love in its many forms and intensities.
For the final months of the 47th theatre season of PETA, Rody Vera and Loy Arcenas reimagines the famous tragic-comedy of Chekhov and brings it closer to home by introducing Gil’s character, Enriquetta Jardeleza-Sofronio of an influential aristocratic family in 1970’s Negros Occidental. Sophisticated, well-read, and highly emotional, the family’s matriarch returns from a long stay in Madrid to grieve the death of her unico hijo. After having squandered the family’s money abroad, she finds out of the plans to sell her ancestral estate and chop down the rows of arbol de fuego, or fire trees, that frame it. She refuses the truth of her impending downfall and instead throws series of lavish parties to reminisce about her opulent past.
The critically acclaimed actress has built herself a sparkling repertoire, playing various women of opulence and strong character: the domineering Trinidad Ojeda in the 1982 film Oro Plata Mata, which portrayed her in an illustrious haciendera life in the war-torn 1940’s Visayas; the driven Lavinia Arguelles of the 1985 film Bituing Walang Ningning that has set the bar for soap opera female antagonists; in live performances such as the showstopping Liliane Lefleur in the Atlantis Production of Tony award-winning musical Nine; the seductive Mrs. Robinson in 2013 screen-to-stage production of The Graduate by the Repertory Philippines; and, in the same year the eccentric fashion doyenne Diana Vreeland in a solo show of Full Gallop by Actors Actors, Inc. and My Own Mann Productions. It is with these kinds of stonehearted roles that she is loved and adored by many.
Undoubtedly, Gil seems to be born for the lead role of Arbol de Fuego but Loy Arcenas said that it was in her memorable first portrayal in Terrence McNally’s Master Class as Greek-American soprano Maria Callas that the New York-based director and designer eyed her for the role. “Cherry Orchard was slowly becoming an interesting dream and whenever I would bump into Cherie, I would tell her that she [would] make a great Ranevskaya, the matriarch in The Cherry Orchard, and we would laugh about it. So when the PETA’s offer came about, Cherie had to be Madame Ranevskaya/Enriquetta Jardeleza-Sofronio.”
Cherie Gil and Philippine Tatler Editor-in-chief Anton San Diego
Gil herself took to the character immediately, saying she is especially fond of playing strong women with their own vulnerabilities. "This role couldn’t have come at a better time in my life," the actress said. When asked about similarities between her and her character, she jokingly quipped, “We are both bipolar”. All jokes aside, Gil expresses her excitement to be working with PETA for the first time, noting that her mother, Rosemarie Eigenmann, has also acted for PETA in the past.
Catch Cherie Gil in Arbol de Fuego; a truly Filipino production that is not to be missed! The play opens on February 20, 2015 with shows from Fridays to Sundays, 3:00pm and 8:00pm at the PETA Theater Center, No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City.
For show buying and ticket information, contact PETA at 725-6244 or 0917 5765400 or contact Ticket World at ticketworld.com.ph 891-9999.