Iza Calzado on her role in 'Sabel: Love and Passion'

MANILA, Philippines – She is known as a dramatic actress in film and on TV, but Iza Calzado said doing Sabel: Love and Passion, a play based on a recurring subject of National Artist Benedicto Cabrera's (BenCab), was one of her best experiences as an actor. (WATCH: #ShareBaguio: BenCab: Finding his muse in the highlands)

“It was my first time. It was my first ever stage play. Sabi ko nga, normally they do it several times. Ako naman for one night lang. The challenge is to do it again and again. At least [there are] 3 runs,” Iza said during a recent interview with selected reporters for the show’s two-night run on June 26 and 27 at the Music Museum.

In the musical, Iza plays the narrator. She also got the opportunity to be illustrated by BenCab before the production.

I am Sabel #Sabel #BenCab #comingsoon A photo posted by I Z A D O R A (@missizacalzado) on Mar 16, 2015 at 3:02am PDT


Iza said that compared to film and television, her first foray onstage was a challenge. 

“It was so hard and direk Freddie (Santos) of course loves to rearrange – take out, put back in and do last-minute stuff. Kaya pagnahasa ka na kay direk Freddie,  ready ka na for the world,” she said in jest. (Once you are trained by direk Freddie, you are ready for the world.)

Nevertheless, she said she had so much fun doing the first night held at the Solaire Theatre last May.

"It's a good start. It was an exhilarating experience because right after, I saw my family, they were just so happy. My boyfriend [Ben Wintle] was so proud of me and I never saw him more proud of me. 

"It was such a great experience. I was such in good company, performing with talent individuals performing onstage with me. But there was a huge burden on my shoulders to carry the whole show like 'how do I do that?' Some parts it was just me on stage and I’m not singing," she said.

Iza said that after doing Sabel, doing a straight play is definitely one of her next goals. Unknown to many, she audtioned for Cinderella the musical a few years back. The role eventually went to singer Karylle.

"I was asked by Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo (to audition). Bobby Garcia wanted to get me for Nine and she thought I could sing. And she asked me to audition for Cinderella and I was like ‘are you serious? I don’t sing.’ She said yes but for me to still come. I was thrilled auditioning for a musical. And I go there with Karylle. And I was like, 'What am I doing here again?'So we did the reading. And Michael Williams was like, 'great reading. Now you have to [do the] singing part,'" Iza shared.

When asked how she rated herself during that audition, she gave herself a 5 out of 10. " [Menchu said] my voice is workable but I need more time."

Despite not getting the part, Iza said the experience was worth it. She also said given a chance she would like to do a musical like Next to Normal

"A dream role would be a drama one like Next to Normal. Definitely something that would require me not to be make birit (belting high notes) because I am not a biritera. So the music will have to fit my voice," she said.

While she considers film her first love, Iza said she enjoys seeing the reaction of people from the stage.

"It was great. Like I said it’s an exhilarating experience because right there when you are performing, you feel their energy. Right after when they applaud you…it’s a great feeling. It’s good for your ego… as artist because it feeds your artistic soul. And it helps you like 'yeah that’s great,'" she said.  

Thank YOU @rajolaurel for making this beautiful "costume" for Sabel  also much love and thanks to my team last night, make up by @mike_lariosa and hair by @chrisrodil  I could never have done it without you guys A photo posted by I Z A D O R A (@missizacalzado) on Apr 30, 2015 at 8:25pm PDT


"I’ve only done it once. Talk to me again after doing it two more times," Iza said.

Sabel: Love and Passion is based on the figure Sabel, who often appeared in BenCab's work over the years. The artist is celebrating his 50th year Retrospective, which looks back at his 50 career years and the evolution of his signature styles. 

According to bencabmuseum.org, Sabel was inspired by a scavenger whom the artist photographed and sketched back in 1965. 

He recently teamed up with clothing brand Freeway to launch a collection inspired by his art and his iconic muse for the brand's National Artist Collector's Series. – Rappler.com

Sabel:Love and Passion will have a two-night rerun on June 26 and 27 at the Music Museum. For tickets, log on to ticketworld.com.ph