Monday, December 11, 2017

Yesterday, Tomorrow and Today: The Miracle Within Lives In "A Christmas Carol."

Fresh from the commercially successful and critically beautiful production of Newsies, 9 Works Theatrical restaging of Menken and Ahrens' A Christmas Carol, The Musical, presented with more grit, more depth and more spirit. Globe Live co-produced the musical based from the 1843 novel of the same title by Charles Dickens, created something new this Yuletide tradition for Filipino families with A Christmas Carol. From December 1, 1994 to December 27, 2003 the show was presented annually at New York City's Paramount Theater in Madison Square Garden. It tells the story and journey of a wealthy old man, Ebenezer Scrooge whose life is full of bitterness and losses. Encountered and haunted by the ghosts of his past, present and future, Scrooge transformed into kinder and gentler man after he realized and uncovered the miracle within, the spirit of Christmas and the unconditional love of family and community.
Being a regular musical patron on both local and international production, immediately caught my artistic attention the set designed by Ed Lacson, set rendered by Louie Mendiola and set executed by Nikko Metal. The huge period and themed clock reminded me of Wicked, was a crucial and symbolical piece for the retelling and pacing of the show. The three permanent sets from center left, center and center right created a perfect weight and balance and it complemented a perfect visual and scenic spectacle in my sight-line. 

Another very good placement was the loft that housed the orchestra pit in the the left and the choir in the right. As the overture played, it was soaring high, hauntingly beautiful kinda like, The Phantom Of The Opera. Daniel Bartolome conducted the 16 piece orchestra 9PO (9 Works Theatrical Philharmonic Pit Pop Orchestra), composed of professional musicians, trained in the fields of Classical, Modern, Post-Modern, Contemporary and Pop. The newly formed 21st century orchestra is an affiliate of 9 Works Theatrical to cater the growing demand for weddings, parties and events. Shakira Villa Symes made an impressive mixtures of color in lighting needed to set the mood, to heighten the scene and to intensify the emphasis.
Resident director Robbie Guevara did it again from motivation and blocking it has always been a pro and will never a con. The stage business was simply gratifying, satisfying and intensisying whether it's a soliloquy or the ensemble. One particular scene that moved, touched and overwhelmed me was on how the spirit of Christmas was interpreted in the scene " Abundance And Charity, " at the beginning of Act 2. Ditto with Newsies, it was a delightful treat to see the company sung and tap danced made possible by incredible and immense choreographic talent duo of PJ Rebullida and Yek Barlongay.

The man on the titular role as Ebenezer Scrooge don't need further introduction as Miguel Faustmann owned it, nailed it and praised it regardless of the version. The three ghosts that haunted Scrooge deserve nothing but a raise. The lamplighter (Past), charity show barker (Present) and blind beggar woman (Future), each of these thespians resembled there characters as Lumiere of Beauty And Beast (Franco Laurel), Jean Valjean of Les Miserables (Nico Dans), there was even a moment that he looked like a Jedi and Lucy Barker of Sweeney Todd (Rissey Reyes). I was thrilled and entertained that I saw scenes and interpretations derived from some of the most notable and iconic musicals as I watched it. A Christmas Carol, a world class and glorious act of Filipino talents from cast and production. The spirit of Christmas from yesterday, tomorrow and today lives #TheMiracleWithin.
Cast And Characters
Ebenezer Scrooge (Miguel Faustmann)
Jacob Marley / Mr. Fezziwig (Noel Rayos)
Ghost of Christmas Past (Franco Laurel)
Ghost of Christmas Present (Nico Dans)
Ghost of Christmas Future (Rissey Reyes)
Tiny Tim (Jaime Yupangco / Elai Estrella)
Bob Crachit (Jon Abella)
Mrs. Crachit (Tricia Canilao)
Mrs. Fezziwig (Dawn Eduave)
Young Ebenezer Scrooge / Charity Man (Laurence Mossman
Emily (Mitzie Lao)
Fred Anderson (Arman Ferrer)
Sally Anderson (Gian Gloria)
Grace Smythe (Krystal Brimmer / Rayne Cortez)
Jonathon (Tory Cortez)
Scrooge at 12 (Omar Uddin and Diego Soler)
Fan / Crachit Daughter (Simone Martinez /Cerise Ramirez)
Fred Anderson's Son / Nickolas (Joe Ng / Bourne Luna)
Martha Cratchit (Kyle Francisco)
Mr. Smythe (MC dela Cruz)
Young Job Marley (JP Basco)
Mrs. Mops (Peachy Atilano-Guevara)
Scrooge's Mother / Poulterer (Mariella Laurel)
John William Scrooge / Charity Man (Josh Michael Ramirez
Beadle / Fish Monger / Judge (Kendrick Ibasco)
Mr. Hawkins / Charity Man (Vyen Villanueva)
Old Joe (Jourdan Bartolome)
Mrs. Hawkins (Shalee Vicencio)
Mrs. Pickwick (Joni Galeste)

A Christmal Carol, presented by Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical with special arrangement from Music Theatre International (MTI), runs at the Globe Iconic Bonifacio High Street Amphitheater on December 7-9, 14-16, 21-22 and 26-27 at 8pm, December 10 and 17 (Sundays) and December 25 at 7pm.

Call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or log on to www.ticketworld.com.ph Official Hashtags: #GlobeLive9WTACC and #TheMiracleWithin Facebook: 9WorksTheatrical and GlobePH Twitter and Instagram: @9WTonline and @enjoyGlobe YouTube: GlobePH

Text and Photos by Gilbert Kim Sancha.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Celebrate Life and Active Lifestyle In FitFil National Weight Loss Challenge

 Thanks to celebrity fitness coaches Jim and Toni Saret of "Biggest Loser Philippines Season 2" for leading Fit Filipino Movement (FitFil) National Weight Loss Challenge because six months after its launch in May 2017, nearly one million pounds (lbs) were axed. The entire Philippines consisting of individuals, groups and organizations pledged to burn fats and to lose weight to achieve an active lifestyle and to become physically fit but more so to reduce and prevent heart related diseases. Both coaches were ecstatic to share how the movement were able to meet its core objective within six months. "It was a combined effort from everyone. But the mission has just started. We hope to see at least one million Filipinos more fit in three years," shared by Coach Jim.
Fitness Coaches Jim andTony Saret.
Meanwhile for Coach Toni, "Through the FitFil weight loss challenge, we hope to spread the message that being fit and well starts with a simple commitment and that includes taking ownership of your health."
PBA Cager Asi Taulava
Thank you also for FWD Life Philippines, one of the country's fastest growing insurance and the first life insurance company licensed by the Insurance Commission of the Philippines under the new Insurance Code, for being a proud partner of the FitFil movement. Spanning in Hongkong, Macau, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan, FWD commercially operated in September 2014 offering life and medical insurance, general insurance and employee benefits in the market.
"We at FWD fully support FitFilipino's humble advocacy of getting everyone fit and well so Filipinos can celebrate life. We will still continue to encourage everyone to take part in a more active lifestyle and as our brand tagline goes, Get ready to live," FWD Life Philippines Marketing Head, Rochelle Vanderberghe said.

To celebrate this initial achievement, organizations, institutions, local government unit (LGU) partners and companies who participated in the challenge danced and exercised at FWD's "Live to Move" fitness party on December 3, 2017 held at Central Park, SM By The Bay, Mall of Asia. The event highlighted "Campaign Achievement Celebration" for Philippine Medical Association, Philippine National Police, National Youth Commission and many others as their collective efforts and supports were recognized.

Text and Photos by Gilbert Kim Sancha. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog: An early Christmas present.

A Christmas present comes early for Tanghalang Pilipino as they held its Press Night performance of Eljay Deldoc’s Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog last December 2, 2017. Wrapped with jolly production comes a play that tackles financial literacy and the worth of the important things for us.
Previously screened as a play-on-tour about financial literacy, this TP’s holiday adaptation of Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog gave a wider perspective of the story by taking in the dynamics of Gwyneth’s, the lead role, family and the society where she lives in. The play touches on how we build relationship with money, and how it affects the relationship that we are also building with our family and the people around us. With a teen girl (played by Blanche Buhia) as the main character, the conflicts would depict decisions that a millennial and even a baby boomer could face in real life.
Lukot-lukot, bilog-bilog can be easily seen as a typical children’s play, but what really makes it special is that it tickles the little child within us. The set was very warm yet you could almost feel that Christmas’s air and with Lolo Sally (played by Jonathan Tadiaon) opening the show one could just easily go nostalgic. Polka dots, Parol and Spaghetti are accents that you couldn’t mistaken as they scream holiday of an average Filipino. Joyous hymns and productions filled the air as the ensemble performed traditional Filipino Christmas carols with twisted lyrics about different habits of extravagant holiday spending and dance choreography that is bubbly like kids on the streets- just pure fun.
The play features an all Tanghalang Pilipino cast. The message of wise budgeting can be also seen on the production itself as it transcends on how the casts plays multiple roles, having a minimal set panels used efficiently and optimizing the use of their props. No spaces of the theater were not used and even the audience had its participation to pop up the show. Certainly, the play’s main message is strong and clear- spend resources wisely!
This play for Tanghalang Pilipino is a good breather from their heavy line up for this theater season. No doubt that the well-cited Ang Pag-uusig was one of their best this year, if not the best. It was a joy to see the casts in their comic side. One of the role that catches my attention and big break was Jing-Jing (played by Eunice Pacia), a bestfriend that almost all of us would have a love-hate relationship with all of her honesty and motherly advise. Full of wits and adlibs that punches humor on the right spots, the acting comes naturally and no pretenses. Ultimately, who would not love Jonathan Tadiaon’s Lolo Sally with all of his quirky movements and expressions, and also full of one-liner humor that would leave you laughing and gasping for air. Oh, can we have that magic wallet?
As they say, Filipino has the longest celebration of Christmas in the world. Christmas for us is all about the lights, parol, gifts and parties and we tend to spend outrageously during this time with the excuse that it is holiday. The play lets you pause and encourages introspection of what is the worth of your money and family. Moreover, Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog, is a story of finding the true worth of the things that are important to us. A lesson that is relevant not only this yuletide season but for the whole year round.

Tanghalang Pilipino and Eljay Deldoc’s Lukot-Lukot, Bilog Bilog runs from December 1-17, 2017 at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, CCP Little Theater. For tickets call Lei Celestino (0915-607-2275) or Enzo Marco (0999-884-3821).

Text and Photos by Ariane Dave Farnazo.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Spirit Of Filipino Christmas In The Nutcracker.

Alice Reyes choreographed her first own version in 1982 with Rita Dureza and Cynthia as Clara, Leslie Browne, Effie Nañas, Maricar Drilon and Toni Lopez Gonzalez as the Sugarplum Fairy and John Meehan, Nonoy Froilan, Brando Miranda and Adam Sage as the Nutcracker Prince. In 1991, Reyes' version was restaged by Nonoy Froilan with Mylene Aggabao and Naomi Tolome as Clara, Gina Katigbak and Melissa Cuachon as the Sugarplum Fairy and Mario Esperanza and Jinn Ibarrola as the Nutcracker Prince.

Edna Vida's original choreographic version premiered in 1987 with Maria Veronica Fargas and Maria Leilani R. Da Silva as Clara, Lisa Macuja, Cecile Sicangco, Gina Katigbak, Melissa Cuachon and Ida Beltran as the Sugarplum Fairy and Nonoy Froilan, Conrad Dy-Liacco, Brando Miranda and Jun Mabaquio as the Nutcracker Prince. It was then restaged in 2003, with Wendy Esteban and Lynn Leveille as Clara, Kris-Belle Paclibar, Mica Bernas and Hanedy Sala as the Sugarplum Fairy and Clark Rambuyon, Irish Abejero and Jojo Mamangun as the Nutcracker Prince. This year, both Reyes and Vida's versions, for their third production of its quintessential 48th season, Ballet Philippines, the first resident company of Cultural Center of the Philippines revived and relived the classic and iconic Christmas ballet in the world, "The Nutcracker" Returning to Ballet Philippines as guest artist courtesy of Japan Foundation and Tan Yan Kee Foundation is Nobuo Fujino, former Senior Artist of Australian Ballet and Principal Dancer of Hongkong Ballet. He played the role of The Prince in Ballet Philippines production of The Sleeping Beauty in 2011. Alternating with Fujino as The Prince are Victor Maguad (Shoes++, Peter Pan, Giselle, Manhid, Opera and Swan Lake) and Lester Reguindin (Pusong Wagas, Illustrated Dialects and Swan Lake). 

Gawad Buhay Awardee for Outstanding Female Lead Performer in Dance Candice Adea, a resident guest artist of 48th season, returns as the Sugarplum Fairy who was featured in previous production such Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, Snow White, The Nutcracker and Coppelia. Alternating with Adea are NAMCYA Luva Adameit Awardee - Junior Ballet Category and winner of the first CCP Ballet Competition Denise Parungao (Giselle, Cinderella, Opera, The Firebird, Simoun and Swan Lake) and Jemima Reyes who essayed in Sleeping Beauty, Crisostomo Ibarra, Rama Hari, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Giselle, The Firebird and Swan Lake.

This Christmas ballet presentation became a homecoming celebration as former and future members of Ballet Philippines made a unison performance. A significant highlight during Act 1, women wearing ternos and tapis and men wearing balck tuxedos, chaquetillas, wing collars, butterfly neckties and cummberbands graced, swayed and danced in "Rigodon de Honor". Another delightful treat were party children from different dance school who gave meaning for this Yuletide season. To complement this full-length ballet in two-act, musical director Gerard Salonga conducted the 42-piece ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, the music of legendary Russian composer Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, known for Swan Lake (1876), Sleeping Beauty (1889) and The Nutcracker (1892).
Set in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era in the 1920s, Ballet Philippines promised the retelling of Vida and Reyes' holiday classic that, audience will experience and explore images of Noche Buena, dance with Rigodon de Honor, illuminate the bright lights of fireflies, see the beauty of bougainvilleas, and the symbolic toys and sweets of Christmas. As the curtain raise up, the Filipino themed set designed by National Artist for Theater Design, Salvador Bernal warmly welcomed and greeted the audiences of the gala night with awe. The grand ballroom featured huge carved anahaw leaves in styrofoam made famous by Isabelo Tampico, backdroped by framed translucent capiz shells, complemented with two beautiful chandeliers hanged at the twin staircases and transitioned from small to large Christmas tree at the center through flying. And the spectacle continues from the Kingdom of the Fireflies symbolizing the arrival at the Kingdom of the Dolls at Act II.

For a complete Nutcracker experience, Ballet Philippines partnered with Chrysara, a creative manufacturing company who specializes in housewares, gifts and accessories, established by Ballet Philippines Founder and Artistic Director and National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes, to showcase Filipino talents, artisans and craftmanships.The Nutcracker collectibles featuring characters like Clara, the Rat King, the Nutcracker Prince and the Sugarplum Fairy are exclusively available at Ballet Philippines. Chrysara's Nutcracker line are available online at, www.facebook.com/balletphilippines and at the CCP Main Theater Lobby from 1st to 10th of December 2017. Proceeds will go to the Noordin Jumalon Scholarship Fund, which aims to support the growth and development of aspiring and promising young students of Ballet Philippines.

For only 1,000, audience will get an Orchestra Center ticket for Matinee show and seat at "The Nutcracker Tea Party" Meet and greet Clara, the Sugarplum Fairy and the Nutcracker Prince, decorate a pointe shoe and soothe Tea Leaves tea and other Bizu treats are also at stake. The party will only kick in on December 2, 3, 9 and 10, right after the matinee performance of The Nutcracker at the CCP Main Theater Mezzanine. Slots are limited.

The Nutcracker runs from December 1 to 10 at the CCP Main Theater. Call Ballet Philippines at (+632) 551-1003, CCP Box Office at (+632) 832-3704 or Ticketworld at (+632) 891-9999. Log on to: www.ticketworld.com.ph Connect and follow Ballet Philippines through: Facebook: www.facebook.com/balletphilippines Twitter: @balletphilippines Instagram: @balletph . 

Text and Photos by Gilbert Kim Sancha. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

PETA returns to Rajah Sulayman Theatre with 'Ang Buhay ni Galileo'

PETA returns to Rajah Sulayman Theatre for re-staging their original translation by Alan Glinoga of a Bertolt Brecht creation. In celebration of the premiere theatre group’s 50th anniversary, Ang Buhay ni Galileo ran from November 29 to December 1 at an outdoor stage at Fort Santiago. The play talks about the struggles of spreading the truth by the polymath Galileo Galilei. This is directed by Rody Vera.

All his life, Galileo Galilei tried to disseminate his discoveries about the universe. These trials and tribulations were quelled by the Roman Catholic as they are deemed as against the teachings of God. The entire show addresses the issue of the Church’s greed over power which transcends the current state of our society.

PETA takes art seriously this time. Their previous productions focused more on the entertainment value. Ang Buhay ni Galileo proves that PETA knows what theatre should be. The cast is headed by veteran artist Joel Lamangan as Galileo who is a very credible lead. He is backed up by other theatre experts like Bodjie Pascua, Upeng Galang Fernandez, Jack Yabut and others. The production design by Brenda Fajardo was inspired by the Aesthetic of Poverty.

The open-air venue added to the aesthetics of the play. But do not complain about the long walk from the Intramuros entrance to the stage, the sounds of traffic, helicopter, the birds and bats (maybe) hovering over, mosquitos, fireworks at Rizal Park and even rain. Do not complain. Experiencing art is supposed to be a struggle. (Char.)

We are absolutely hoping for another re-staging of Ang Buhay ni Galileo and more plays from PETA at the Rajah Sulayman Theatre.

Text and Photos by Aga Posadas.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Gugmang Giatay the Musical: All Things Bisaya Pride.

“Bisaya baya ni, Bay!”. This song phrase really sums up the performance full of Bisaya pride as the original bisrock jukebox musical Gugmang Giatay conquered the manila theater scene on its Manila debut run held at Maybank Performing Arts Theater during the BGC Passionfest last November 28, 2017.
This all-Bisaya cast musical started its story when an ordinary Bisaya neighborhood’s all-time loveteam of Inday and Undo takes its toll. Consequently, complications arise as secrets have been revealed, gossips crawl like vines and confessions breaks from their cages. Across the performance, each of the neighborhood character’s stories were revealed with each showcasing the different facets of love and relationship stripped to its rawness.
Undo, the lead male role, tells the story of a local musician that is in love with two things-music and Inday. For him, love is all about how he feels, his passion for things and lives to love and nothing else. Deeply in love with Inday, he will do anything and will give it unconditionally.” Inday please don't say to me goodbye, tanan nga gusto mo inday ihatag ko maputos man ko sa utang okay lang sulngon ko ang panggubatan pakamatyan ang buwan kabukiran latason adlawng tanan adlawng tanan”
A nurse-to-be, Inday stopped from her studies to provide her family by being a help. Relationship for Inday is not just love but the one with a package of a bright future. She saw love when she saw perseverance and ambition to make a living. She stands that love is a commitment to grow and nurture a relationship. She saw this on Ben, who work and with salary and not on Undo who work for passion.” Unya mihabol ang ka ngitngit, na giduyugan sa ulan. Ug sa kalit lang nahanaw ang bidlisiw sa adlaw”
Rihanna, Inday’s best friend, kept her estranged feelings for Undo since forever. True to her song “Hahahahasula” the feelings consumed knowingly that   Undo would not look her the way he looked Inday. Unrequited, loving from a far and trying to move on from something that has never happened is such a hassle feeling- it eats you inside and it is sick. “ Kay di ta uyab, wala ikaw ug ako, pero kung magselos ko, ayaw pagbuot. Sige na lang ta ani Hahaha katawa, Hahaha hasula”.
Chareng, a transgender, and Ben proved that love has transcends gender and society’s constructed norm. Both struggled on how to act on their feelings for each other given the prejudice and society’s stigma on their beautiful affair. Afraid yet fearless, they gambled and take the big leap towards own happiness. “Apan, unsaon pa ug pag elabs-elabs. Eh labs ko na gyud ayiz”.
Alas, the play takes it to the point of realizing that love could be damned but at the same time may lead to unexpected endings, or maybe beginnings.
Love and relationship plots can be generic but honestly, we will never get tired of it. The play’s story can be canned on that category but its original attack on portraying damned love with raw characterizations is definitely on point. True to its Bisaya roots, the lines, wits and humor were unpretentious and really brought a basket of laughs and realizations. Ultimately, the gem of this play are the solos. Those solos show each characters’ vulnerability to love and even conveyed sincerity to the pain. You just want give them warm hugs and say “okay ra na”.
Aside from a relatable story, it was the songs that really captures the audience bigtime. Featuring Vispop (Visayan Pop), Bisrock(Bisaya Rock) and even classic Bisaya folk hit songs, words may come unfamiliar but the melody and the covers would really take you to a rollercoaster eargasm. Hahahasula really cuts deep as Rihanna confesses her feelings through this song. And comes Lola Lucy’s alma-Moreno-can-choke lifting and dance performance of Senior Citizen and Max Surban’s classic Di Na Gyud Mousab would make you laugh your heart out and leave you barely breathing. It is truly a bunch of good singers, an ensemble that could give manila musicals a run of their money. And oh, that Bisaya gay lingo song meant to be belted is a lit!
Written by Award-winning Songwriter Jude Gitamondoc and internet sensation Rowell “Medyo Maldito” Ucat, the musical cast features Bong Cabrera, Von Saw, Lourdes May Maglinte, Shiela Pestaño-Gemperoa, Shane Reseroni, Joer Gallur, Paola Pia San Diego, Jeyve Daño, Jan Echevarria, Davelyn Cuenco, Heidi Pogoy, Alem Garcia, Malaya Macaraeg, Kristian Ray Malintad, Dion Cecillio, Laurie Tul-id and Dustin Tagalog. The musical featured both bisaya contemporary and classic songs written by iconic talents as Max Surban, Cattski Espina, Insoy Niñal, Jude Gitamondoc, Medyo Maldito and Junior Kilat, among others.
Gugmang Giatay is produced by 2TinCans Philippines in partnership with the BGC Arts Center and Casino Filipino, in cooperation of Offbeat Concepts Production House.

Text and Photos by Ariane Dave Farnazo.