Baby Barredo

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To read this article in Filipino, see Baby Barredo

Carmen “Baby” Johnson Barredo (28 April 1941-23 May 2021) was a Filipino theater actress, director, and producer. Also known as the Grand Dame of Philippine Theater, she co-founded Repertory Philippines (REP), a major theater company in the country.

Education

She graduated from St. Scholastica’s College Manila and also studied under Fides Asencio and Ines Zialicita and National Artists Lucrecia Kasilag and Daisy Hontiveros-Avellana before decamping to the United States. She took up voice at Indiana University, and Drama at the American Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Career

Her career as a performer and a mentor stretched across the entire length of modern Philippine theater. She was only 5 when she played her first role – as the angel Gabriel in a school Christmas play.

Upon her return to the country, she founded REP with Zenaida Amador, Leo Martinez, Tony Mercado and Monina Allarey Mercado in 1967 with a production of Miss Julie. REP has produced over 500 shows in over 50 years, with shows ranging from Shakespeare to its trademark musicals such as Evita and The Sound of Music. REP also helped provide a crucial starting point for would-be actors with its workshops.

She appeared in numerous productions such as Maria in The Sound of Music, Anna in The King & I, Guenevere in Camelot, Maria Callas in Master Class, and Evita Peron in Evita. Her last role was that of Violet Weston in the family drama August: Osage County in 2014, at the age of 72.

Aside from acting, she was a director, musical director, and costume designer for REP. Barredo’s training and talent enabled her to handle musical and nonmusical roles that she passed on to her wards that include Lea Salonga, Cocoy Laurel, Junix Inocian, Monique Wilson, Pinky Amador, Miguel Faustmann, Joy Virata, Bart Guingona, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Audie Gemora, Freddie Santos, Rem Zamora, Bernardo Bernardo, and Cris Villonco.

She was named REP’s chair-for-life and artistic director after the death of Amador in 2008. She last participated in a REP production as director of Father’s Day in 2019.

Death

She passed away on 23 May 2021 from multiple organ failure brought about by sepsis. She was 80. Tributes and outpourings of grief were posted over social media at her passing. REP also paid tribute to her in a Facebook post: “Tita Baby was a consummate artist — a compleat actress, sublime singer, brilliant director, and theatrical creative genius. Known for her unrelenting passion and discipline, artistic excellence, boldness, and abounding love, Tita Baby’s legacy lives on in every REP artist and audience member whose love and passion for theater she has powerfully and indelibly set alight.” They also featured a collage of her portrait through the years.

References

Citation

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