Camus had been the production manager at Atlantis Theatricals Entertainment Group (Ateg) since its founding in 2000.
Bobby Garcia, Ateg founding artistic director, said: "I first met Liza in 1993 through Boy Abunda. He got Liza to production-manage a TV show I was supposed to do. He told Liza, in front of me, 'I want you to always be by Bobby's side. Don't ever leave him.'"
The show didn't push through, Garcia admitted. "But, true to her word, Liza never left me. She would go on to become our production manager for `Miss Saigon' (Garcia was the local resident director for the 2000 Manila run) and then for Atlantis. Liza is one of a kind. She is, and forever will be, my Wonder Woman."
From concerts to theater
Prior to working in theater, Camus was involved in concerts and television.
After graduating from De La Salle University, she worked as production assistant under director Fritz Ynfante for the Miss Young Philippines beauty pageant.
She went on to work in various concert productions of international acts (Sting, Gloria Estefan, Mike Francis, to name a few) and local artists (Martin Nievera, Ogie Alcasid, Regine Velasquez, Lea Salonga, Zsa Zsa Padilla).
She also became an associate producer of the seminal TV show "Batibot" in 1983.
According to impresario Dong Alegre, "Liza would kill to keep her production schedule on track
for she knew live shows can be quite unforgiving-and she'd rather be in control of it, not the other way around. Never would you have `the tail wagging the dog'-not under Liza's watch."
Costume designer Eric Pineda said, "She's 'conyo,' but what endeared her to everyone was that she was also very 'koboy.' It's really the required personality of anyone who wishes to go into theater or concert production. She can be 'sosyal' if she's dealing with VIPs, but she can have a good laugh with the carpentry and technical boys."
He pointed out: "She was kind to everyone; whether you are Lea, Regine or Martin or a wardrobe mistress, utility boy or setman, it's all the same to her. "The Filipino adjective that would best describe Liza is 'magaan.'"
Second to none
Salonga wrote in two of her Inquirer columns that Camus was "fearless and peerless. Always in charge, unflappable, unstoppable, imperturbable. Her loud and lively voice (she peppered her sentences with `Pare') signaled her presence, and you knew that, with her there, you never ever had to worry about anything.
"When it comes to production managing, there is one who is second to none, a diminutive powerhouse of a woman. She must be no more than 5 feet tall but when she enters a room, it's as if [it were] someone bigger.
"Her language is peppered by crunchily enunciated Spanish-accented invectives (which cannot be printed here), and the volume with which she speaks is loud and present.
"Her sense of humor and positive energy infuse every production she is busy with."
Mother to all
Her sense of humor is well known in the theater community. In tribute to her, friends and colleagues have been replacing their Facebook profile cover photos with a collage (created by GA Fallarme) of Camus in wacky costumes and silly facial expressions.
Composer and musical director Ceejay Javier said, "In our last production together, she yelled at me, "You're fat! You're lazy! You're fired!" But after Act 1, she told me I was doing a great job. I will miss her humor, her patience, her drive for perfection.
"She was a mother and tita to us all. Mahal na mahal siya ng ultimo pinakamaliliit na tao sa isang production, because she respected and took care of each and every one. She made each of us around her be better at what we do."
With a report from Cora Llamas.
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