Onstage in 2012

I haven’t been collecting as much info as I should regarding the theater scene this year. But from the little info I have, these are productions that will be making a dent in MY credit card bill this 2012.

  • You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown (9Works Theatrical) – After scoring a home run with Sweet Charity last year, this should be a fun a way to experience your second (or third, or fourth) childhood.. The songs are recognizable as commercial jingles and Sesame Street songs from ages ago.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gL-kWD8Gtdg&w=420&h=315]

  • Jekyll & Hyde (Repertory Philippines) – This is one of those cast recordings I’ve been playing for what seems like forever. The once overplayed “This Is The Moment” comes from this musical. Besides that, there are are other more powerful, darker and more interesting pieces in this show. I’m really curious how they will present the transformation scene where Jekyll turns into Hyde.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k23ztv7Qyhk&w=420&h=315]

  • Rock Of Ages (Atlantis) –  This promises to be a fun rock musical with the music of Starship, Journey, Twisted Sister, REO Speedwagon among others being used (and lyrics amusing mangled) to tell the tale of up-and-coming rocker Drew, the in-danger-of-being demolished rock club, the Bourbon and mega-ego rocker, Stacee Jax.  It’s interesting that the movie version of this with Tom Cruise will be showing this year too.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBI0DNn0g_c&w=560&h=315]

  • God Of Carnage (Atlantis) – Lea Salonga and Menchu Lauchengco-Laurel in one play sharing the same stage. ‘Nuff Said. This has a VERY limited run so expect tickets to disappear really quickly. The movie version of this play will also be showing next.
  • Forbidden Broadway (Upstart)a mishmash of broadway parodies making fun of Les Mis, Miss Saigon, Rent, Wicked and other hit shows. Though it might not be as enjoyable for those who aren’t familiar with the songs and the shows, the inside jokes and numerous winks will have theater regulars rolling in the aisles.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pa0pw6SIWtA&w=420&h=315]

  • Virgin Labfest 2012 (Tanghalang Pilipino)this annual collection of short plays performed at the CCP showcases the best of the best of Filipino playwrights. Check out the CCP website for featured shows and schedules when this comes around.
  • The Phantom Of The Opera (Concertus) –  The company that brought Cats and Stomp! to CCP will be bringing an Australian cast to stage Phantom in the CCP. I really want to watch this though I’m sure ticket prices will be through the roof. Not really happy about the acoustics of CCP from watching Cats. Expensive seats are a must to get full satisfaction from this. But if anything, Cats was a spectacle. Phantom, with the lavish sets and costumes will be even more so. If they use digital backdrops like they did with the 25th anniversary at Royal Albert Hall, this is really gonna blow the audience away!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGUSFVEvTio&w=560&h=315]

There will be returning shows from last year. Atlantis will be restaging Next To Normal and In The Heights. Defending the Caveman and Love, Loss and What I Wore will also be restaged for those who missed it last year (or those who want to see it again).

And Yes, I know there are other awesome productions this year. With my severely limited budget (‘specially after Phantom), I have to be really choosy stingy. 🙁 The list is also subject to change (we all have dreams of winning the lotto, right?)

Paciencia y Fe!

I went into Atlantis Productions “In The Heights” blissfully ignorant of the play. I thought that it was just another West Side Story clone. I was wrong, dead wrong.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvVgm4imyj0&w=560&h=345]

Without giving much away, “In The Heights” has more in common with Rent than West Side. There was even a song that reminded me of that emotional hand grenade “Will I?” from Rent. It tells the stories of a community of Puerto Ricans trying to get by in New York. Usnavi operates a bodega trying to make ends meet. He takes care of his abuela (Grandmother) while trying to get the attention of the hot and sultry Vanessa, a hairdresser who’s perpetually behind with her rent. Across the street is the Rosario Taxi Service, run by Kevin and Camila, whose daughter Nina is coming home from college with a spot of bad news. Benny, an ambitious employee of the Rosarios, is trying to make his way and may get to rekindle his childhood crush towards Nina. (Incidentally, Benny is supposed to be BLACK. This will make the ethnic Romeo and Juliet storyline make sense. This was not clear during the performance)

The music is a catchy blend of rap, latin and salsa. The music is a joy to listen to. Nyoy Volante’s Usnavi was poignant and his background as a pop singer really helped with some of the numbers. Though the the faster and more frenetic raps sometimes got muffled to the point of losing clarity. It’s when he slows down and lowers the volume that his rhyme sets an emotional vibe. K-la, who plays Nina, is a revelation. She had a really sweet and vulnerable presence on stage. Calvin Millado was powerful as Kevin Rosario. You can feel him overtaken by grief in one pivotal scene.  Jackie Lou Blanco was a welcome addition to the cast. Haven’t seen her in a long time. I gotta hand it to Atlantis. It’s really a nice touch that they’re bringing back long missed personalities like what they did with Noel Trinidad in Xanadu.

I usually get the emotional impact of a musical with the power of the finale. It took some time to sink in. I looked up the video on youtube (which came with lyrics). Lin Manuel is a genius. I just had to include his incredible acceptance speech when “In The Heights” won for best musical.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI6icWf6CB8&w=420&h=315]

I think there are a lot of parallels between the Puerto Rican and the Filipino culture. This play will resonate with the Manila audience because of the underlying themes of family bonds, traditional values and the struggle to stick together in hard times.

In the end, “In The Heights” is about change, about failure, about moving on and staying put. And with paciencia y fe, to just find paradise where we are with what we have.

“In The Heights” runs at the RCBC plaza until September. Do visit www.atlantisproductions.com for showdates and times.