|Publisher||Visual Print Enterprises|
|First appearance||Ang Kagilagilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah #1 Alamat Comics 2002 (The Amazing Adventures of Zsazsa Zaturnnah)|
|Created by||Carlo Vergara|
|Team affiliations||Didi (assistant to Ada)
Dodong (friend; object of Ada's affection)
|Abilities||Invulnerability, super strength, super agility, indestructible chest|
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Zsazsa Zaturnnah is a fictional comic book superheroine created by Filipino illustrator and graphic designer Carlo Vergara in December 2002. Zsazsa Zaturnnah or Zaturnnah, attracted considerable attention from Philippine media in the years following her first appearance and currently enjoys a cult fanbase.
The character first appeared in the graphic novel, Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah (The Spectacular Adventures of Zsazsa Zaturnnah), originally self-published in two parts in December 2002 with very limited distribution. When the graphic novel won a National Book Award in 2003, given out by the prestigious Manila Critics Circle, Vergara approached book publisher Visual Print Enterprises to compile the two parts into a single volume for distribution throughout the Philippines.
The graphic novel landed on the 12th spot of top selling Philippine fiction books for 2005, based on records of National Bookstore, the largest bookstore chain in the country. It is also being used as reference and subject  in gender studies courses in some universities, including the government-run University of the Philippines.
On May 25, 2008, author Carlo Vergara released the first six pages of the Zaturnnah sequel through his blog as an online preview. Forty pages were eventually posted online. The sequel, entitled Zsazsa Zaturnnah sa Kalakhang Maynila (Zsazsa Zaturnnah in Metro Manila), chronicles Ada and Dodong's stay in Manila. The first of three parts of the Zaturnnah sequel was eventually published and released on January 25, 2012.
Fictional character biography
Zaturnnah, a powerful and voluptuous female with large red hair and a muscular physique, is reminiscent of the DC Comics character Wonder Woman and the classic Filipino superhero Darna. The distinct difference is the sexuality of her alter ego Ada, who is an effeminate homosexual male. The proprietor of a small town beauty salon, Ada receives a huge spiky stone that, when ingested, physically transforms him into Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah.
Ada seeks to prove to himself and his parents that he can make a decent living as a beautician, while remaining haunted by the memory of his father as well as a failed relationship marked by violence. His father vehemently disapproved of Ada's homosexuality, even going as far as dipping Ada's head in wet pig feed to emphasize his disgust. His life experience prompted him to turn inward, seemingly cold and unfeeling, while rebuilding his life from the point of his parents' deaths. Ada's previous relationship with a man named Lester ended dismally, with a punch to Ada's face which seemed to disconnect his jaw.
It was in a small town where Ada rented a space owned by Aling Britney, and set up shop. With his assistant Didi, Ada was on his way to what he believed to be a normal life. That is, until a strange stone fell from the sky, granting Ada the ability to transform into a superhuman woman whenever he ingests it and shouts the word "Zaturnnah!" (which was etched on the stone). Didi proudly names the new hero Zsazsa Zaturnnah.
The story of Zsazsa Zaturnnah has been the subject of a number of academic essays. Soledad S. Reyes' "From Darna to Zsazsa Zaturnnah" appears in her essay collection "Darna to Zsazsa Zaturnnah: Desire and Fantasy : Essays on Literature and Popular Culture," published by Anvil Publishing in 2009. Meanwhile, Eleanor Sarah Reposar's essay "Carlo Vergara's Zsazsa Zaturnnah and the Tradition of Subversion in Philippine komiks" appears in the essay collection "Philippine Studies: Have We Gone Beyond St. Louis?" edited by Priscelina Patajo-Legasto, and published by the University of the Philippines Press in 2008.
In June 2009, Zsazsa Zaturnnah was featured in the Philippine edition of FHM magazine. The character was illustrated by Vergara in various stages of undress to conform to the visual style of the magazine.
The graphic novel was adapted into a stage musical by Tanghalang Pilipino, one of the country's top theater companies. Credits include Chris Martinez (for stage adaptation), Vincent de Jesus (for lyrics, composition and musical direction) and Chris Millado (stage direction).
The musical was staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines from February 10 to March 5, 2006. Former teen idol-turned-dramatic actress Eula Valdez played the title role to positive reviews. Other lead roles were played by Tuxqs Rutaquio (as the character Ada), Ricci Chan (as Didi), alternates Lauren Novero and Arnold Reyes (as Dodong), and alternates Agot Isidro and Kalila Aguilos (as Queen Femina Suarestellar Baroux).
Even before the musical's opening night, almost all tickets for the scheduled 16 shows had been booked, unprecedented in Tanghalang Pilipino's experience with original stage material. The musical has had 31 shows over three stagings between February 10 to June 18, 2005.
The musical received a nomination for Best Stage Musical from the 19th Aliw Awards, an annual event giving recognition to Philippine live entertainment, which includes theatrical and concert performances. Tuxqs Rutaquio and Eula Valdez have also received nominations for Best Stage Actor and Actress, respectively, for a Musical. In addition, Chris Millado earned a nomination for Best Stage Director. Among all the nominations, it was Valdez who took home the trophy during the August 31, 2006 awards night.
A 10-show repeat took place at the PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) Theater Center in Quezon City from April 21 to 30, 2006. The role of Didi was played by Tanghalang Pilipino veteran, Joey Paras.
The International Theater Festival was hosted by the Philippines in June 2006 and Zsazsa Zaturnnah: Ze Muzikal was one of the Philippines' representatives. Five shows were successfully staged from June 16 to 18, 2006. Joey Paras reprised the role of Didi, and Kalila Aguilos played the role of Queen Femina Suarestellar Baroux with no alternate.
The 4th staging took place from January 19 to 28, 2007 at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Most of the cast of the 3rd staging were present in this run, except for Lauren Novero. He was replaced by theater newcomer Janvier Daily. Agot Isidro returned to alternate as Queen Femina Suarestellar Baroux.
Fourteen shows were staged from June 15 to July 1, 2007 for the musical's fifth run, which took place at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of the RCBC Plaza in Makati City. Playing the role of Didi was Nar Cabico, 16 year old, a graduate of Philippine High School for the Arts; alternating with Tuxqs Rutaquio as Ada was composer, musical director Vincent de Jesus; and alternating with Eula Valdes was recording artist/comedian K Brosas as Zaturnnah.
A six-show stint was scheduled to run from November 16 to 18, 2007 in Cebu City, marking the first provincial run of the musical. The Cebu run was postponed, however, and tentatively reset for the first quarter of 2008. Despite initial promotional efforts conducted by Tanghalang Pilipino and the author, the musical wasn't staged. Instead, the sixth run of the musical ran from February 6 to March 8, 2009 for 15 shows at the Aurelio Tolentino Theater of the CCP. This was meant to be a fund-raising event for Tanghalang Pilipino, which had to shelve the staging of another musical "Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon" due to budget constraints.
New actors joining the sixth run: Meliza Reyes (Queen Femina) and Red Anderson (Dodong). Joey Paras and Lauren Novero returned to reprise their roles as Didi and Dodong, respectively. The chorus was likewise doubled.
With Tanghalang Pilipino still struggling with financial woes, prompting the theater company to shelve the staging of the adaptation of F. Sionil Jose's "My Brother, My Executioner," the seventh staging of the Zaturnnah musical took place from February 18, 2011 to March 19, 2011, also at the Aurelio Tolentino Theater of the CCP. It ran for 16 shows.
New actors joining the seventh run: Philippine theater veteran Pinky Amador (Queen Femina), ramp model and indie film actor Rocky Salumbides and television actor Prince Stefan (Dodong), comedian Gabe Mercado and Tanghalang Pilipino resident actor Jonathan Tadiaoan (Didi).
With a total of 91 shows at the end of this run, Zsazsa Zaturnnah: Ze Muzikal is the longest running musical ever staged by Tanghalang Pilipino.
On December 25, 2006, a film adaptation of the graphic novel (Zsazsa Zaturnnah: ZE Moveeh) was released under the production of Regal Films, Inc. and directed by the award-winning Joel Lamangan. Among the actresses who had been tapped or had expressed interest to play the title role were singers Regine Velasquez and Zsa Zsa Padilla, and comedian Rufa Mae Quinto. The role had originally been awarded to Quinto, but was subsequently given to Zsa Zsa Padilla.
The film had been accepted as one of ten films for competition in the 2006 Metro Manila Film Festival, which is held every late-December. Despite the media hype surrounding the film, it didn't win any of the festival's awards, and performed far below expectations in the box office.
However, Rustom Padilla and Chokoleit bagged Best Male Lead and Best Supporting Actor awards, respectively, from the Gawad Tanglaw, a five-year old body composed of critics, scholars, historians and humanities professors. The original song "Multo ng Nakaraan" (Ghost of the Past) won the Best Original Song award from the same group. The song was composed by Vincent de Jesus, originally for the stage musical. Rustom Padilla also went on to win his first Best Actor award during the 30th Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, or Urian, awards.
The film was nominated for Best Picture (musical/comedy) in the 4th Golden Screen Awards, given out by ENPRESS, a breakaway group of the Philippine Movie Press Club which gives out the Star Awards for Movies. Rustom Padilla, Chokoleit, Zsazsa Padilla was nominated for female lead, musical/comedy; Dinno Erece won for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Vincent DeJesus won Best Original Song for "Ikaw Ang Superhero ng Buhay Ko" (You are the Superhero of My Life) at the 4th Golden Screen Awards and a Gawad Tanglaw Award for Best Original Song for "Multo ng Nakaraan." Vincent de Jesus also won Best Original Score at the 2006 Star Awards for Film (which was held at the UP Theater), an Urian Award for Best Musical Achievement at the 30th Urian awards (held at the Irwin Theater, Ateneo de Manila) and Best Achievement in Music at the 2007 Film Academy of the Philippines awards.
- David Corpuz, "Subverting Zsazsa Zaturnnah: A Critical Analysis on the Gender Representations on Carlo Vergara's Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah" (presented at the 8th ASEAN Inter-University Conference, Manila, May 2008).
- Totel V. de Jesus "F. Sionil José versus ‘ZsaZsa Zaturnnah’" Archived April 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., Philippine Daily Inquirer