A first for Erik

A first for Erik
By Nathalie Tomada
The Philippine Star – November 16, 2011

erik santosMANILA, Philippines – “We’re so okay now,” Erik Santos described the state of his relationship with former manager, Boy Abunda. Their falling-out was well-publicized in the media in September, although Abunda had confirmed last month on TV that they had patched things up.

“I went to his house, we talked for three hours, and then, we were able to settle whatever had happened,” Erik told The STAR how the reconciliation went, prior to a recent presscon for the play he’s part of, Disney’s The Little Mermaid by Atlantis Productions.

He, however, declined to comment when asked by a movie columnist whether he owned up to talk that he “badmouthed” Backroom Inc., the talent management company that Abunda founded and headed until recently, and of which Erik was a talent for seven years until he was “released” in August.

“Ayoko na po pag-usapan yun,” requested Erik, now co-managed by Star Magic and Cornerstone, only stressing that he wants to put the issue behind him now.

Erik added, “It was hard at first, (but) we were able to clear up a lot of things. He said his piece, I said my piece, so at the end of the conversation, nagkalinawan po kami.”

And his realizations? “I realized that despite what happened, I know that Tito Boy loves me, not because I was his artist, and that he managed me, but bilang anak at bilang kaibigan. And I realized that napakabait and napakabuti po n’yang tao.”

“I’m happy we’re okay,” he said again.

One lesson Erik is taking from this episode is “that if you have a concern with someone, you tell it directly to the person,” then adding, “at the end of the day, alam mo kung sino yung mga totoo mong kaibigan, and Tito Boy is one of them.”

Backroom execs present during the The Little Mermaid presscon held at the Manila Ocean Park also reaffirmed that there’s no bad blood with their former ward; in fact, Erik was seen hugging some of the Backroom staff like long-lost friends reunited.

The Little Mermaid is Erik’s first theatrical foray. He plays the leading man Prince Eric opposite Rachelle Ann Go’s Ariel. He was practically handpicked for the role by Bobby Garcia, one of the two directors (the other is Chari Arespacochaga) of the Little Mermaid, which is a groundbreaking show, so to speak, as it’s the first-ever Asian production of the Broadway musical.

“Direk Bobby has been my director in all of my concerts at the Araneta. Two years ago, sinabihan na ako ni Direk Bobby, you play the role of Prince Eric in Little Mermaid. One year before the rehearsals, the soundtrack was already with me,” he said.

Erik shared that he had apprehensions going into the project, foremost of which was some discomfort with the English language. “Actually, ang dilemma ko dito ay I have to admit talaga I think in Tagalog, di ako ma-English na tao. I really took speech workshops for this. So ngayon mas naging mas careful ako, mas inaral ko yung correct diction, intonation and enunciation. Speaking in (straight) English is not like second skin to me. From day one, that’s my concern. But I was able to overcome that through the rehearsals, at least.”

He’s also very much aware that the theater-going crowd can be tough to please, and that there’s very little room for mistakes. “For example, gumagawa ako ng concert, nagkamali ako ng lyrics, may teleprompter, or pwede ako mag-adlib. Pero dito sukat lahat at whatever yung nire-rehearse mo, yun dapat ang ibigay mo. You have to rely on muscle memory. It’s very challenging for me.”

But for the 29-year-old Erik, who plans on taking on as many experiences as he can to expand his artist portfolio in the runup to his 10th year in showbiz come 2012, theater has made him more disciplined as a singer and made him more appreciative of his craft. He said, “So, I have to do (major preparation). As much as possible, although you can’t please everybody, I don’t want the reviews to be all negative (laughs). I’ll do my best.”

Also forming the cast are Jinky Llamanzares as Ursula, OJ Mariano as Sebastian, Calvin Millado as King Triton, Lee Viloria as Flounder, Ikey Canoy as Scuttle, Felix Rivera as Flotsam, Jamie Barcelon as Jetsam and Raymond Concepcion as Grimsby. For details, call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or Atlantis Productions at 892-7078 or 840-1187. You can also log on to http://www.atlantisproductionsinc.com.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the musical, runs from Nov. 18 to Dec. 11 at the Meralco Theater.

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