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A Classic Musical Spectacle In Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag.

 
" Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag " is a classic film released in 1975 and re-released in 2013 directed by National Artist for Film Lino Brocka. The well received film and considered as one of the greatest films in Philippine Cinema was based from the novel of Edgardo Reyes. Winner of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in 1976 FAMAS Awards, it starred Bembol Roco as Julio Madiaga and Hilda Koronel as Ligaya Paraiso. In 2013, the film was fully restored and was shown at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival as part of Cannes Classics Section. It tells the tragic love story and crime of passion of Julio and Ligaya set against the backdrop of Manila. The film still mirrors that nothing has changed from the current scenario in the Philippines, struggle, survival, poverty, unemployment and prostitution.

After 42 years, this highly and critically acclaimed film was adapted into a stage musical spectacle presented by Grand Leisure Corporation and produced by Fullhouse Asia Productions, Inc. The benefit of " Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag, The Musical " will go to Gantimpala Theater Foundation, a company that produced short stories and plays written by National Artists for Literature and Theater under the National Artist Production Series. Current Gantimpala Theater Foundation artistic director and acclaimed film, television and theater director and actor Joel Lamangan, made an impressive touch in giving life onstage in writer's point of view. The weight, emphasis and blocking were theatrically beautiful whether on a solo or ensemble performance. Actors were deeply motivated that brought moving, touching and soaring interpretation of the libretto by Jose Victor Torres and Em Mendez. 

An integral part and huge realization for this period musical piece is the traditional and conventional projected sceneries, combined and complemented by minimal set, permanent set and box set through gripping, rolling and flying by Jun Flavier Pablo. Huge amount of credit goes to Douglas Nierras who made " BRAVO " choreography of the entire ensemble. What's with Nierras that I keep on wanting more from his visual and sensual steps, moves, sways and leaps? The answer is just simply - perfection, beautifully danced and interpreted. 
The 2015 PhilStage Gawad Buhay awardee for Best Featured Male in a Musical, Arman Ferrer playing in the titular role Julio is nothing but a scene stealer and a show stopper especially his classical and powerful vocal interpretation be it on a solo, duet or ensemble. It's not suprising from this choral conductor that he nailed his musical soliloquies. I have witnessed all his notable performances with Tanghalang Pilipino and with the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, he never failed to surprise. This musical has so many highlights but Rita Daniela acting and belting in " Nasaan Ang Hustisya, " a funeral scene before the end of Act 1 backed with an impressive blocking and choreography of the entire ensemble received the thunderous applause of the night. That scene alone, tiring yet mesmerizing and hauntingly beautiful. Ima Castro is perfect as Mrs. Cruz, shockingly impressed and convinced with her acting, singing and dancing. After all she was once Kim of Miss Saigon.


Remaining stellar cast includes Shiela Valderrama-Martinez and Lara Maigue alternating as Ligaya Paraiso, Floyd Tena (Pol), Noel Rayos (Atong), Rafa Seguion-Reyna and Joseph Puducay (Imo), Aicelle Santos and Rita Daniela (Perla), Jim Pebanco/ Joseph Billezar (Mr. Balajadia), Khalil Kaimo (Gido), Jeffrey Camañag (Omeng), Romcel Binquis (Benny), Randy Rey (Frank), and Dulce and Ima Castro alternating as Mrs. Cruz. “Maynila Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, The Musical” performances are slated on September 30, 2017 at 3:00pm and 8:00pm (Gala), October 1, 2017 at 3:00pm and 8:00pm October 4, 2017 at 8:00pm, October 5, 2017 at 8:00 pm, October 6, 2017 at 3:00pm and 8:00pm. Performances will be at the KIA Theater. For ticket inquiries please contact Ms. Bards Lapid at mobile number: 09178466704, landline: 897-7142 and 890-0853 or Ticketnet: 911-5555.

Text and Photos by Gilbert Kim Sancha. 

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