Dani Girl Remains a Bright Beacon of Hope in its 2019 Restaging

What better way to see and experience hope than through the eyes of children, as Marketing and PR Director Sab Jose mentioned before the show. Dani Girl is one such story, told through a little girl’s reimagining of her own struggles in reality into a whimsical fantasy. The Sandbox Collective staged it for the first time 5 years ago, and is now bringing it back, at a time where we need a little more hope in our world.

Dani is the titular girl, battling through The Big C (that’s cancer) by imagining a more fun, less bleak world. In her imaginary world, her parents are rulers of a fantasy kingdom, and her guardian angel, Raph, plays games and sings fun songs with her. Having been alone in the hospital for a long time, she meets new ward-neighbor Marty, who shares her depth of imagination. They embark on adventures to discover why they were befallen with the “curse,” and more profoundly why it even needed to exist in the first place. “Why is cancer?” is the question.

I watched the show on its first weekend, and as part of the production’s charity efforts, they matched every social media post with the hashtag #DaniGirlMNL with a financial donation to the show’s partners. That was a nice way to not only promote the show but also help save lives.

Continue reading “Dani Girl Remains a Bright Beacon of Hope in its 2019 Restaging”

Dani Girl Gives Us Hope Anew on Its Re-staging

I watched Dani Girl’s premiere in Manila back in 2014. I was still a newbie with musicals when I watched it with my theater workshop classmates. Without any expectations or whatever, the show left me in tears. The show struck many heartstrings not only because it tackled cancer but for how it was told through the eyes of little innocent children. As young adults among all our responsibilities and the issues the world face today, we often forget to be like how we used to be as children: brave and hopeful.


In celebration of its fifth year, The Sandbox Collective is re-staging their maiden production, Dani Girl: A Musical About Hope. Half a decade later, the show underlines, among other things, the importance of friendship, and the family that can blossom from it.

Dani Girl opens on August 10 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium RCBC Plaza Makati.

Dani is a precocious nine-year-old girl who has spent her childhood battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia (A.L.L). Years of semi-isolated existence led her to develop quite the imagination, and she spends her days in the pediatric ward spinning fanciful tales that mostly feature her “guardian angel,” Raph. In her mind, her mother is a kind-hearted queen, and her absentee father, a king on a faraway quest. On most days, she has no one but her guardian angel, Raph, to turn to, until one day, a boy named Marty moves into the pediatric ward. Together, they decide to find the answer to the question, “Why is cancer?”

Rebecca Coates and Felicity Kyle Napuli as Dani

The two-hour musical rarely looks at the two children’s prognosis through a dreary lens, and instead takes you through a whimsical ride through Dani’s fantastical imagination, one full of spaceships and sword fights. But amidst the fanciful settings, is a grounded core. Beyond the characters’ bleak reality, is a tale of friendship, and finding family in those you least expect. As audience members join Dani on her journey of self-realization, they will walk away with questions of their own. Who is my Raph? My Marty in life? Who do we turn to in times of turmoil, and whose shoulders do we know will always be there when we need them the most?

Dani Girl 2019 Cast (L-R): Daniel Drilon and Luigi Quesada as Marty, Shiela Valderrama-Martinez and Pam Imperial as Katharine Lyons, Lorenz Martinez and Juliene Mendoza as Raph

Dani Girl: A Musical About Hope will star Philstage Gawad Buhay awardee, Rebecca Coates in the title role (Agnes of God, The Secret Garden). She is set to alternate with Felicity Kyle Napuli in the role of Dani Lyons (The Lion King, Matilda). Luigi Quesada will return as Dani’s best friend and fellow warrior, Marty (Hair, Waitress). He will be sharing the role with new cast member, Daniel Drilon (The Secret Garden, Fun Home). Returning cast members, Shiela Valderrama-Martinez (Binondo, Guadalupe, Shrek) and Pam Imperial (RENT, The Sound of Music) will be alternating as Katharine Lyons, Dani’s mother. Meanwhile, Lorenz Martinez (Miss Saigon, Binondo) returns and alternates with new cast member Juliene Mendoza in the role of Raph (Dekada ‘70, All Out of Love).

Toff de Venecia (No Filter, The Boy in the Bathroom) makes his much-awaited directorial comeback in this re-staging of Dani Girl. He is at the helm once more as director and executive producer. Joining him is Sab Jose as assistant director and marketing and public relations director. Completing the artistic team are Ejay Yatco as musical director, Stephen Viñas as choreographer, Faust Peneyra as scenographer and costume designer, Miggy Panganiban as lighting designer, Joee Mejias as projection & video designer and Myrene Santos as hair and makeup designer

Santi Santamaria leads the production team as co-executive producer (9 Works Theatrical). Rounding out the production team are Anna Santamaria as operations and finance director, Maine Manalansan as design director, Elliza Aurelio as associate producer, Pauline Gaerlan as production manager, Myka Cue as marketing and public relations associate, Jonjon Martin as public relations manager and Anissa Aguila as head stage manager.


Dani Girl: A Musical About Hope will open on August 10, 2019 and will have a limited engagement until September 1, 2019 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue, Makati City. Tickets are now available through Ticketworld online.


Dani Girl: A Musical About Hope is co-presented by The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical, together with our gold ribbon sponsor, Make-A-Wish Philippines. Special thanks to our silver ribbon sponsors: Privato Hotel Group, Toy Kingdom and St. Luke’s Medical Center; our institutional partners, Carewell Community Foundation, Childhaus, Philippine Cancer Society, Inc., CanHOPE and Cancervants; our community partners, Pineapple Lab, Classic Chef, K Best, and DC Superheroes Cafe; and our official media partners: Crossover 105.1, Pitchworks, Broadwayworld.com, Theater Fans Manila, Young Star, Uniquely Pinoy, and Art+ Magazine.

Himala: Isang Musikal Returns On February 10

The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical are re-staging Ricky Lee and Vincent DeJesus’ Himala: Isang Musikal based on the 1982 critically acclaimed classic by the late Ishmael Bernal. 

After the presscon, I’ve never been more excited to see a musical. Especially that the root material was a film I’ve been watching in Cinema One (formely Pinoy Blockbuster Channel) when I was a child every lazy afternoon. In case you hadn’t already known, Himala‘s story centers on Elsa who claims to have the power of healing after the Blessed Virgin Mary appears to her. News of her miracles spread within and beyond her hometown Cupang attracting thousands of sick and curious followers. This causes an irreversible disturbance to the once sleepy town.

Continue reading “Himala: Isang Musikal Returns On February 10”