Bryan Munar: Putting his place onstage

“Once”

The Fil-Am stage actor joins cast in 42nd Street Moon’s “Once”

Bryan in “A Chorus Line” in Novato Theater Co.

SAN FRANCISCO’S 42nd Street Moon is proud to present the highly-anticipated Bay Area regional premiere of 2012’s Tony Award-winning Best Musical, “Once.”  Directed and choreographed by Cindy Goldfield, “Once” runs from June 12-30 at the San Francisco’s Gateway Theatre. 

Based on the 2007 movie, “Once” tells of an Irish musician who learns to love and dream again through a fateful week with a Czech immigrant.  Heartbreakingly romantic but also bursting with joy and humor, “Once” features a lively folk score — with the onstage actors playing their own instruments — and is the only score to have won an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and Olivier Award. 

Joining the cast is Filipino American stage actor Bryan Munar, who is playing the character “Eamon.” 

“Eamon is the owner of the recording studio where Guy and Girl record demos to help Guy’s music career.  He’s pretty much unamused by these weirdos in the room, but after impressing him with their songs, he definitely becomes a fan,” Munar said. “He’s a minor character but still a beautiful part of the story that illustrates the main characters’ music changing the characters in the story.”

Born in Saipan to Filipino parents, Munar also lived in the Philippines with his grandparents and Tita Pearl, before moving to Southern California. 

Bryan in “A Chorus Line” in Novato Theater Co.

Munar has been in and around the Bay Area theater scene, performing in musicals like “A Chorus Line” with the Novato Theater Company, “Flower Drum Song (2002 revival)” with Palo Alto Players, “The Wizard of Oz” at the Berkeley Playhouse, “South Pacific” with the Mountain Play Association, and “Yoga Play” and “King of the Yees” with San Francisco Playhouse. His passion for singing and acting, he shared, started when he was still young.

“I always wanted to sing since I was a little kid. I was singing in choirs in church, show choirs in high school, etc.,” he said.  “I didn’t realize I loved acting until about two years ago when I discovered that musical theater can be a profession! I took a couple classes at Studio ACT in San Francisco, started auditioning, and never looked back!”

He considers his performance as “Paul” in “A Chorus Line” as his most memorable one because it was the biggest role he’s ever had.  “It’s the biggest role I’ve played onstage and most lines I’ve ever had to learn,” he laughed.  “It was a really valuable experience for me and to top it off, got a bunch of Bay Area awards nominations for it which is really cool. People also still recognize me from time to time if I’m in the North Bay and compliment me for my performance in that show! It’s kind of funny but also very humbling.”

He is also grateful that in spite being Filipino American, he did not have many struggles in the industry.

Bryan in Woodminster’s production of “South Pacific.”

“In fact, I think because I am a POC (person of color) actor in the Bay, people notice me a lot more. For example, I was at an Equity audition for a company who solely does straight plays and I counted about two people of color, including me, in a waiting room with about 25-30 people,” he shared and continued, “And if that continued throughout the audition slots, then I think I definitely have been noticed simply due to that ratio! I will say though, some challenges include maybe people not ‘non-traditionally’ casting me in lead roles? Even though I can play them, I don’t have a traditional leading man look/type going on for me, so they choose the one who looks the part more.”

But he feels that the theater’s view on the “traditional leading man” is changing.  Because of this, he gives this piece of advice to new artists:  Work hard.

“Never stop learning, have role models, and have a healthy ego. There is a place for EVERYONE in the entertainment industry and sometimes you just have to knock the doors down yourself!”

The team

Company: The cast of “Once” will feature Emma Berman as “Ivonka,” Cody Craven as “Guy,” Matt Davis as “Bank Manager,” Jake Gale as “Svec,” Devin Renée Kelly as “Reza,” Brady Morales Woolery as “Andrej,” Ariela Morgenstern as “Baruska,” Bryan Munar as “Eamon,” Olivia Nice as “Girl,” Christina Owens as “Ex-Girlfriend,” Rob Ready as “Billy,” Colin Thomson as “Da” and Myra Chachkin as “Emcee.”

Book by Enda Walsh

Music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

Directed and choreographed by: Cindy Goldfield

Music director: Eryn Allen

Scenic designer: Brian Watson

Lighting designer: Michael Palumbo

Costume designer: Cindy Goldfield

Sound designer/Mic operator: Travis Rexroat

Assistant stage manager: Lauren Howry

Stage manager: Alicia Lerner

“Once” runs until June 30, 2019 and will perform at San Francisco’s Gateway Theatre (215 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94111). Tickets range from $28 – $75 and can be purchased through the Box Office at (415) 255-8207 or online at www.42ndstmoon.org. 

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