The musical is based on the beloved novel by Filipino national hero Dr José P. Rizal – a Filipino nationalist during the tail end of the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines. José Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere is widely known as the great novel of the Philippines.
Noli Me Tangere A New Musical tells the tale of Crisostomo Ibarra, a mixed-race man who returns home after spending several years in Europe. Upon his homecoming, Ibarra’s mind is filled with ideas about how to better the lives and futures of his people through education. He strives for societal reform but is confronted by the state of his country under the regimented and barbaric Spanish rule.
Throughout the performance Ibarra is faced with an onslaught of trials and tribulations as he strives to bring enlightenment to his people. He is faced with the ongoing and bitter internal conflict of whether he can achieve freedom for his people peacefully and release them from the shackles of colonial oppression through education or whether he must resort to violence to spur revolution.
Through this brilliant satire, Rizal paints a tragic picture of the long period of suffering that his beloved country endured. The story speaks volumes, not solely to Filipinos, but to all those who have experienced and endured the lasting effects of oppression.
Noli Me Tangere boasts a cast of both celebrated and emerging Filipino actors including Miguel Castro (The Filipino Tenors) in the lead role of Ibarra; with Susana Downes ( The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, If/Then) by his side as the strong and sweet Maria Clara – Ibarra’s true love.
Marcus Rivera (Miss Saigon, The King and I) tackles the role of Elias, a rebel who befriends Ibarra whilst on the run. Also joining this cast is Lena Cruz (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, All Saints) as Sisa – a mother in search of the truth about what became of her children.
Director Aarne Neeme (Blue Heelers, The Blue Angel Hotel) leads a team of creatives including choreographer Novy Bereber, Assistant Director Marcus Rivera, Producer Peter Fleming and Music Director Allan McFadden.
Featuring music and lyrics by Allan McFadden and book and lyrics by Peter Fleming, Noli Me Tangere is truly a force to be reckoned with in the Australian musical theatre scene. “The music I’ve composed seeks to capture the beauty and the violence of the Filipino landscape, which has everything from volcanoes to the most gorgeous coastal resorts,” says McFadden.
Noli Me Tangere is a traditional musical but tells a story which is completely fresh to an Australian audience. Lyricist Peter Fleming says “It’s a beautiful love story overtaken by violence, and the show is full of the most romantic and thrilling music. It’s a tragic musical in the tradition of West Side Story but set in a gorgeous world. Much of the sensibility of the Filipino nation comes out of this story.”
Noli Me Tangere A New Musical
Riverside Theatre, Corner Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
Season: 29 March – 6 April 2019
Information and Bookings: www.riversideparramatta.com.au
Image: Miguel Castro as Crisostomo Ibarra and Susana Downes as Maria Clara feature in Noli Me Tangere (supplied)