Tag Archives: Hair

art + music by Nana Caragay

Ringlight Sessions: Markki Stroem

From ‘Hair’ to Bench, the theater veteran and consummate performer is experiencing a renaissance on different stages

Ringlight Sessions: The Neighborhood puts up-and-coming or in-the-moment local artists and musicians in the spotlight—or more accurately, ringlight—to show us what they’ve got. Next up: Markki Stroem.

Markki Stroem turned 30 this year, and by all accounts, it’s been every bit the milestone he hoped it would be. Last month, he made waves with his bare-it-all appearance at the hotly anticipated Bench Under the Stars Anniversary Show, plus he’s playing the lead role of Claude in the Repertory Philippines production, Hair. “My character represents a figurative Jesus in this haggle of hippies,” he says. “He represents what is pure and kind of sacrifices himself for the greater good.” Markki also thinks the theme song, “Aquarius,” is particularly relevant at this time, with the world in the midst of an awakening of sorts. “The ’60s was the hippie era, and now we have the hipsters or the millennials. Back then they were fighting against war, the unnecessary killing of people who were going off to Vietnam… and guess what? It’s happening again,” he observes. “But now, you don’t have to go out on the streets and protest; you can just go online and say what you need to say, which is an interesting turn of events. It’s a new Age of Aquarius, which is really cool.” Check out his rendition in the video below.


Describe yourself as an artist.
I’m the kind of person who just loves what I do. I like to experiment, that’s why I allot time to do my television soap, movie, play, modeling, working out—because I really, really want it to be perfect before I get onstage. I need to be the best person I can be because it is not me, it is the audience who will be participating in this beautiful story that I’d like to tell, so I don’t want to be half-baked in anything that I do. Not just for the audience, but also for my family members who are there to support and watch me.

Top 3 songs on repeat?
“New Rules” by Dua Lipa, “Havana” by Camila Cabello, and “Unstable” by Zak Abel. These are modern-day songs that I’m listening to over and over again in the car at the moment. But overall, it would probably be “Ex-Factor” by Lauryn Hill, “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone, and “Heaven” by John Legend.

One song you would recommend to anyone?
“Age of Aquarius.” I didn’t understand it before I started this play, and it became a cult classic because of this show. It’s a good song to listen to at the moment because we’re still in the Age of Aquarius, maybe the end part of it. It’s where culture and music and the entertainment world explode in passionate fervor.

Is OPM dead or thriving?
Musicians who perform nowadays, like sila Moira Dela Torre, KZ Tandingan, they’re doing really well in the billboard charts because they know how to market themselves. And it’s a beautiful thing because they’re trying to infuse modern-day music from abroad into their own Filipino OPM versions, which influences how they write their music. I think the industry in terms of CD sales is probably dead, but Spotify is here. You can choose what you’d like to listen to now. You can choose among the artists that appeal to the bigger diaspora, that’s why “Havana” and this Dua Lipa song is stuck in my head because they’re all over the charts, and there are a few Filipino artists who are on the charts. It’s great to see that they’re able to be current in the international scene. So OPM is not dead… it’s just beginning, I think.

Dream collaboration?
Locally, maybe Up Dharma Down. That’s like a dream, right? It’s everyone’s dream. Foreign, Lauryn Hill or John Legend.


Photography by Renzo Navarro
Art Direction by Mags Ocampo
Grooming by Bea Colet

profile photo
Nana Caragay
Nana Caragay is a magazine editor, writer, voice over talent, and former gymnast. When she's not stalking cute dogs on social media, she's most likely shopping, working out, watching E!, or drinking iced tea. She's on Instagram @nanacaragay.
art + music by Emil Hofileña

Repertory Philippines’ ‘Hair’ is an intoxicating dive into the hippie lifestyle

The original rock musical is as powerful, shocking, and relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

Hair isn’t the kind of musical you watch for its story. Functioning instead as a portrait of the hippie counterculture in 1960s New York, it’s essentially a two-and-a-half-hour collection of songs and surreal, drug-induced sequences. In the hands of Repertory Philippines, Hair impressively retains most of its controversial power. Though this production falls a little shy of replicating the wild abandon of the original, it still demands viewing as a spectacle that will upset and frustrate certain people, and hopefully enthrall the rest.

Everything about Hair is an act of rebellion: its reckless characters, its overwhelming live music, and its disregard for narrative structure. In this respect, Hair has inherent value; it’s unlike anything you’re probably ever going to see, constantly pushing back against any preconceptions of how musical theater should play out. The source material is also inherently problematic, never coming across as a complete portrayal of hippie life, due to its intentionally narrow perspective.

So the best thing a theater company can do with a show like Hair is to establish enough order amid the chaos so that its myriad of messages shines through to the audience. Director Chris Millado accomplishes this without losing the free spirit of his characters. All throughout the musical, they wander the stage seemingly at random, only for them to converge into precise tableaus. However, one does get the sense that this rendition of Hair could have cut loose even more. Certain gimmicks (such as having members of the cast run up the aisles of the Onstage Theatre), while entertaining, can feel repetitive after a while.

hair-1 hair-2 hair-3

Still, there’s just so much going on in Hair that it’s hard to look away. A gorgeous set makes great use of screens, projections, and smoke to capture the dreamlike, hallucinatory lifestyle of the characters, while the music is as funky and diverse as it’s ever been—taking on the vibrancy of a sweaty rock concert.

But the most impressive part of Repertory Philippines’ Hair is still its incredibly versatile cast of performers, all of who are required to lose themselves completely. Standouts include Topper Fabregas (Claude), who communicates everything you need to know solely through his eyes, and Maronne Cruz (Jeanie) who effortlessly inhabits a variety of personalities throughout the show. Hair achieves its power through all the little things its actors do, creating an atmosphere that eventually convinces you that this is not a performance, but a way of life.

Emil Hofileña
Emil is a staff writer at Rogue Media. He spends way too much time and money watching movies, crying to Hamilton, and fawning over Carly Rae Jepsen. He believes all stories are worth telling. Follow him on Youtube at youtube.com/cinemil and on Twitter at @EmilHofilena.