The mall tour of the Arroyo 7 youth drama ?First Time? was halted recently because of safety concerns. The crowds were too big and unruly at their first stop, SM San Lazaro, according to the show?s lead stars Joshua Dionisio, 15, and Barbie Forteza, 12.
GMA 7 Corporate Communications said the cancellation was ?mutually agreed upon by the mall and the production staff, who are now looking for a bigger venue.?
The cast has also gone on campus and regional tours in Bulacan, Cebu, Bacolod, Baguio and Bukidnon.
Sudden fame surely caught Joshua and Barbie by surprise.
Now, Barbie can no longer go malling anytime she wants. ?I only go if I need to buy something. But I?m glad that people our age seem to like our show.?
Joshua, who has been in the biz since age 7, is similarly pleased that fans now hold vigil in front of his house and accost him for souvenir snapshots. ?I waited for this for a long time,? he admitted.
For seven years, the right break eluded him as an ABS-CBN talent, only to stumble on it when he auditioned for the GMA 7 series ?Stairway to Heaven? last year.
?People didn?t notice me before,? he said. ?I always did my best when I was with ABS-CBN, but people started paying attention only after ?Stairway.??
Barbie, who appeared in TV commercials and the indie film ?Puntod,? recalled that she had a simple goal when she auditioned for ?Stairway?: ?To see myself on television.?
She got that, and more.
Now, these kids, largely because of their TV characters Cyndi and Lukas, can potentially cause havoc in city malls.
Still, there is criticism that Joshua and Barbie, who recently signed up with GMA Artist Center, are being rushed into adulthood due to the romantic theme of ?First Time.?
Joshua disagreed: ?The show?s story is not that heavy. Our roles suit us. Natural lang. I know that people my age act the same way as our TV characters. My own classmates are like Lukas and Cyndi.?
Joshua noted that Barbie seems mature for her age. ?Yes, I?m older, but I don?t have to guide her. She can handle our scenes well. We help each other on the set.?
Barbie insisted that she remains a child at heart off the set.
?My cousins and I play hide-and-seek at home. We also put makeup on each other in my room,? she related.
They don?t pressure themselves to ?like? each other just because they are a love tandem.
?We?re too young for love,? Barbie pointed out.
Quite coincidentally, the actors they idolize are a screen couple as well: Robin Padilla for Joshua; Sharon Cuneta for Barbie.
?My mom is a Sharonian and we have DVDs of her movies at home. My favorite is ?Bituing Walang Ningning.? I like Cherie Gil, too,? she said.
?I worked with Robin in (the horror movie) ?Kulimlim.? He was nice to everyone on the set. Whenever he didn?t like the food on the set, he would ask the cook to prepare a more delicious meal for all of us,? he said.