Hey there, theater geeks! Arts Month is over, but in the theater world, as they say, the shows must go on.  So, Theater Fans Manila has released its calendar of plays and musicals.  It’s a cornucopia of fabulous shows all month long. So what are you waiting for?  Go buy tickets and enjoy the shows!

Theater Geeks Alert: Thear Fans Manila (@TheaterFans) releases its March Calendar of plays and musicals.

Theater Geeks Alert: Thear Fans Manila (@TheaterFans) releases its March Calendar of plays and musicals.


I must admit, The Last Five Years is one “hugot” (drawing out) movie I’ve been dying to watch but got a little disappointed when I did.  I went to the cinema alone (although I quite expected someone would accompany me but soon found out he’s a total embodiment of Jaime Wellerstein.)

I love the songs.  No questions asked, since I could almost memorize the lyrics.  I love the story.  Almost relatable.  I love Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick.  They can sing, of course.  But why, as I tried to dig down deep within, couldn’t I figure out why I resented watching the film version?

Needless to say, the musical theater version is way better than the movie version.  I hated how  it kind of gave away the story through a “disclaimer” appearing before the opening scene.  Sure, the reason why I watched the movie version was to find out how it pulled through given the non-linear plot (where the love story is told in reverse chronological order).  Later I found out, as I left the cinema, when some actually asked what the story was all about. That “dislcaimer” had its purpose after all. And I reckon I was the only one (probably) who’s familiar with the play.

So here’s the story: The Last Five Years is an adaptation of the Broadway musical which narrates the encounter, marriage, and breakup of an aspiring stage actress Cathy Hiatt (played by Anna Kendrick) and a talented writer Jaime Wellerstein (played by Jeremy Jordan).  Told through witty and melancholic songs, the romance of the two protagonists begin at the end of their marriage and ended through the beginning of their love story (through Cathy’s point of view) and vice versa (as told through Jaime’s point of view).

What makes the film version different from the play is that, each event is sung individually by the characters except the proposal scene where they both sing “The Next Ten Minutes.”  I think why the movie fell short of my expectations was it somehow snatched away the torture of isolation that I should supposedly feel as they belt out the tunes.  But I love the part where Jaime visited Cathy in Ohio while she’s having her summer tour (“See I’m Smiling”) where Cathy hopes that despite the distance between her and Jaime and the sundry issues they have to face, everything will turn out fine.

The film made me sad and angry.  Because it’s cliche.  I hated Jaime because he never remained true to his promise.  That fame gnawed him fully until he became tormented, gathering his resolve to leave Cathy in the end.  Cathy, on the other hand, with her bouts of insecurities and attachment, remained un-rescuable.  But the only thing she did is to love Jaime, to be by his side, “to stick it out and follow through.”  But whose fault is it anyway?

I left the cinema questioning.  Not the story, but the circumstance.  And I didn’t like the movie.  At all.


Put a little more mascara you guys ‘coz Broadway’s fabulous musical comedy arrives two days from now!

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, the 3-time Tony Award Winner for BEST MUSICAL, opens for a limited run in Manila on Feb 28 at the RCBC Plaza, Makati!

Starring Michael de Mesa and Audie Gemora together with a powerful ensemble!

“Based on the 1973 French play by Jean Poiret, this brave musical hit in which the movie ‘BIRDCAGE’ was based, focuses on the love story between gay couple Georges who manages a nightclub at Saint-Tropez and his partner Albin who is the club’s star attraction. The action ensues when Georges’ son Jean-Michel brings home his fiancée’s ultra-conservative parents to meet them. Mayhem erupts, hilarity surfaces, and family ties and personal beliefs are set to the tempest.”

For TICKETS call 0917-5545560, 586-7105, Ticketworld at 891-9999 or email us at info@9workstheatrical.com.


(poster and deets from 9 Works Theatrical FB page)

What I remember most about reading Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince is when the fox revealed his secret to the little prince before leaving goodbye: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

But watching Layeta Bucoy’s Prinsipe Munti, a musical/shadow play adapted from the classic book entranced me in an unimaginable way.  True, I love the book and I learned a lot of lessons from it. Theater has its own unique power to strike its audience, slap them, pound them and reveal these secrets right in front of their eyes. In my case, I cried.  Towards the ending, this secret had been uttered more than twice, by the little prince and the pilot.

“Ang tunay na importante ay hindi nakikita ng mata.”

As this statement echoed around the theater, the more I realized how our journey could also be similar to that of the little prince or the pilot. 

Indeed, Prinsipe Munti and his plight gave me several reasons to cry.

1. I have the rose to take care of.

I cried watching Prinsipe Munti because I realized I’ve been spending a whole lot of time tending to the needs of my rose.  That despite the effort and the care I give to that rose, everything ends in vain. But the thing that matters, despite its flaws and vanity, it is my rose. And I vowed to take care of that rose despite the one-sided affection. It is the rose that I want to spend with as I battle with loneliness and bid farewell to numerous sunsets on my own little planet.

2. I forget myself thinking about that rose.

Call me stupid, but there comes a time when I am encumbered by that need to make sure my rose is all right.  That its petals are arranged or it is covered under the glass globe during the cold night.  I believe in whatever my rose says, though at times I feel that my rose conceals its true feelings. Because it is my rose, I have to give in.

3. I have to let go of that rose.

I definitely hate leaving. And I can’t say goodbye to my rose yet.  I still need to water it everyday, listen to its complaints and demands. And most of all, I still want it to join me in watching the sunset over and over again. But deep within, I know eventually my rose and I would part ways. Still, there is no other great pleasures in life than being with someone you really care about. And it is hard to let go and say goodbye.


4. I am bound to obey.

Prinsipe Munti arrives on the planet where a president treats everyone as a subject who would obey everything he says. What made my tears  well up was the fact that I see myself obeying orders from people no matter how reasonable these orders are. 

5. Everyone wants to be treated as celebrities.

Some people display air of conceit.  It’s unfortunate that some want to take the spotlight just to earn admiration from other people. At what cost? What I love about the scene was when Prinsipe Munti asked the celebrity: “Ano ang ibig sabihin ng paghanga?” (What is admiration?) To admire means that you are regard as the handsomest, the best-dressed, the richest, and the most intelligent man on this planet. Sadly, conceited people can only hear praises. And at times forget themselves, forget other people for fame.  Talk about social media, friends.

6. I have been busy counting stars recently.

Someone asked me how I’m doing in Manila. Without hesitation, I replied: “Slowly imbibing the robotic lifestyle of the urban jungle.” And I didn’t even know if it is a good thing or not. One thing for sure, something has slowly taken me away from doing things that I love the most. But sometimes I can still manage to enjoy. Staying in this city frightens me.  I don’t wanna find myself as a businessman who spends her lifetime counting and recounting stars. I know there is more to life than work. Yes, I am slowly making an automaton out of myself, but the sound of the waves and the laughter of my friends still resonate strongly. I will never be a victim.

7. Time is not measured from morning to night.

When we follow orders, time has the power to enslave us. We wake up in the morning, go to work  and go home in the afternoon. Months become day, and days turn into minutes and seconds. When we realize that, we also come to discover how less we spend on other things that can make us feel more alive. I have felt that, too. I think I am slowly turning into a lamplighter. And that’s what makes me feel sad.

8. My rose is just like any other rose.

Damn it. My rose is just like any other rose.  When I come to think of it, I wonder I even gave my rose that attention. And that is the constant question that would always haunt me. Why that rose?

9. When you want to tame someone, silence is important.

I must say, I have never tamed my rose yet. But there is always a lesson to learn from the alamid. Because my rose and I nag and bicker all the time, I  think I have to take it from the alamid. “You must be very patient. First you will sit down at a little distance from me –like that in the grass.  I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing.” I wish my rose and I would have that moment to tame each other. But all I think about is how to let my rose go.

10. You don’t know who any one really is.

The most important thing one needs to know about knowing someone is through the heart.  It hurts how people judge other people by what they show and say.  They can just assume or base on first impression.  Indeed, what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Oh, and it’s Matt Doyle!



Dubbed as one of BroadwayWorld.com’s most memorable plays of 2013, Melanie is again set to inspire and inform the audience this December as UNICEF and Tanghalang Pilipino celebrate World AIDS Day by restaging the said play.

From Tanghalang Pilipino FB Page Press Release:

A project born out of a partnership between UNICEF and Tanghalang Pilipino, “Melanie” is a play that aims to entertain, engage and educate the audience, leaving them not only in a fit of giggles but also armed with knowledge regarding HIV and AIDS.

The play begins with a funeral-turned-disco party. Having died of AIDS-related complications but having been open about her condition, Melanie’s death becomes the subject of controversy by the townsfolk. Fear and speculation spread rapidly through the community, almost as quickly as how those who live there exchange sexual partners. One by one, the characters discuss the horrors of “becoming like Melanie,” and we witness not only a fear of infection, but also fears stemming from ignorance. We see not only a fear of the condition, but of rejection, of loneliness, and even fear of the ghost of Melanie herself.
Can acceptance and compassion combat the “horrors” brought by Melanie’s death? After all, we are only afraid of what we do not understand.


Playwright – LAYETA BUCOY
Composer & Arranger – JED BALSAMO Director -TUXQS RUTAQUIO

December 4 / Thursday / 3PM
December 4 / Thursday / 7PM
December 6 / Saturday / 8PM
December 7 / Sunday / 7PM
December 10 / Wednesday / 7PM
December 11 / Thursday / 7PM
December 12 / Friday / 7PM
December 14 / Sunday / 2PM

For ticket prices:

  • VIP/Chrome Chairs: P800.00 (40 seats)
  • Gallery and Bleachers: P600.00 (160 seats)

Discounts are available to Senior Citizens, Gov’t. and Military employees, PWDs and students .  Please present valid ID to avail of the discount.  Tickets are available at CCP Box Office.  Feel free to call 0908.8941383/832.1125 local 1620 for more information.

See you at the theater!

10813547_10202871260775519_1579834486_o Before we went to see the musical last Friday, my friend asked me “Have you seen the movie version of Grease?”  She was completely taken aback when I said “No.”  She almost beat me.  Being a Broadway musical buff as I am, how could I  even NOT watch Grease?  Honestly, I just happened to see the clips on YouTube and  I’m familiar with the songs (I mean, who isn’t, with iconic tunes such as “Hopeless Devoted to You”, “Summer Lovin” and “Grease is the Word”).  That’s about it. But watching

9 Works Theatrical’s restaging of Grease (winner of  2013 PHILSTAGE Gawad Buhay Award for Outstanding Production of an Existing Material for a Musical)  really had me a blast.  The instant Sandy (Tippy Dos Santos) and Danny (Guji Lorenzana) opened the scene as they exchange their promise of a love story one summer night under the  starlight, I knew this show’s got to tell me more.


photo credit: 9 Works Theatrical Instagram page

The gauge of a good play or a musical lies in its power to captivate and engage the audience all throughout the duration of the show. Undeniably, Grease left me smiling through its unforgettable music and  enthralling choreography.  That made me thankful for not watching the movie version, which spared me from”benchmarking” the performance with that of the musical.  I love the dance numbers, particularly “Grease Is the Word”, “Born to Hand Jive”, and “We Go Together.”  The moves and the groove transported me back to the 50s, with the cast strutting their stuff in poodle skirts and leather jackets.  Dancing while belting out songs may be a difficult task, but the execution of both made the performance almost flawless.

For me, Steven Silva and Rafa Siguion-Reyna were a revelation.  Silva proved, more than his heartthrob mien, he has the musical talent to boast.  I was blown away with his rendition of “Born to Hand Jive” and “Beauty School Dropout” as Johnny Casino/Teen Angel.  Siguion-Reyna as Kenickie has the swag and shake to be Danny Zucko, too. “Grease Lightnin” was totally entertaining.

More veteran than the rest of the cast with her theatrical background, Tippy Dos Santos was endearing as Sandy Dumbrowski.  Guji Lorenzana would have given a stronger and suave take on the character of Danny Zucko, but I bet his voice left the girls swoon and giggle. Antoinette Taus truly marked her comeback as the sarcastic Betty Rizzo.  Her voice sync in with her character – strong yet sensitive – especially when she blurted out in a song “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” during the confrontation scene with Sandy.


photo credit: 9 Works Theatrical Instagram page

Grease opens the window of how teenage life was during the 1950s.  The production design and the costumes simply scream hairstyle, petticoats, and black jackets.  The speaking lines sounded like the 1950, but at times the delivery seemed a bit unclear (audio problem perhaps).  Those colorful outfits radiate the vibrance of the period. The retro mood made me forget I am in the 21st century.

Still, the theme transcends cultural boundaries, and the struggles of the youth then were still relatable until today – love, friendship, and acceptance. Truly it was a night that I shall remember forever.

I know it’s mid-week November.  But it’s never too late to hit the theater to get a delightful dose of your favorite plays and musicals.

What plays have you watched lately?  I’m watching Grease and Prinsipe Munti next week.  How about you?

source: @TheaterFans. Follow Theater Fans in MNL on Twitter for updates on the recent and upcoming plays!

photo credit: Tanghalang Pilipino FB page

                                                photo credit: Tanghalang Pilipino FB page

Marahil pamilyar na sa atin ang kanyang kuwento: isang munting prinsipe na galing sa isang munting planeta kapiling ng kanyang tatlong bulkan na palagi niyang nililinisan at isang rosas na palagi niyang dinidiligan.  At sa kaniyang paglisan sa tinitirhang planeta, napadpad ang munting prinsipe sa iba’t ibang planeta at nakilala ang mga nilalang na nagturo sa kanya na ang tanging puso lamang ang makauunawa sa mga dapat pahalagahan sa ilalim ng bukas na kalangitan.

Ngayong Nobyembre, inihahandog ng Tanghalang Pilipino ang isang pagtatanghal na inihalaw ni Layeta Bucoy sa klasikong libro ni Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: La Petit Prince (The Little Prince). Ang paglalahad na may halong musika, shadow play at puppetry ang tiyak na makapagbibigay aliw sa mga manonood, lalu na sa mga kabataan.


Salubungin natin ang paglapag ni Prinsipe Munti simula Nobyembre 27 hanggang Disyembre 7! Narito ang mga performance dates:

November 27 Thursday 10AM
November 27 Thursday 2PM
November 27 Thursday 6PM
November 28 Friday 10AM
November 28 Friday 2PM
November 28 Friday 6PM
November 29 Saturday 10AM
November 29 Saturday 2PM
November 29 Saturday 6PM
December 5 Friday 10AM
December 5 Friday 2PM

Para sa karagdagang impormasyon at update, bisitahin lamang ang FB page ng Tanghalang Pilipino.

Tara na at kilalanin pa natin nang mabuti si Prinsipe Munti!

TP's Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente

(Not quite a review of the play)

I was stunned. Amid those heart-wrenching scenes, I sat there on the bleacher with tears welling up in my eyes. Every line struck me.  Willy Loman’s retrospection as he struggles with his dementia haunted me in  way that it bombarded me with questions about my own life.  My own decisions.  My role as a son and as a member of the society.  Most of all: my identity.

Arthur Miller’s play Death of A Salesman transcends beyond time periods and socio-cultural boundaries.  With Rolando Tinio’s Filipino translation Pahimakas Sa Isang Ahente, Miller’s work continues to challenge society as it struggles with issues of capitalism and materialism.  This time, Tinio employed the word Pahimakas which means “Last Farewell” and changed the preposition “Ng” (or Of) to “Sa” ( or For), a metaphorical take on Willy Loman’s plight and tragic demise.  Pahimakas Sa Isang Ahente gives tribute to the salesman, who despite his impending debacle, leaves us questioning our very own selves and the roles we play in this society.

The three and a half hour duration, I must say, was life-changing.  Admittedly as a Lit major, I knew little about the play since we never delved into discussing it thoroughly.  I read the script and knew its historical background, but watching the play for the first time, took me to a new dimension.  It became more alive, the tragedy almost unbearable.  And the theme – compelling.

On what makes one successful

I silently chuckled and smiled every time the characters blurted out how success and fame are measured by how much a person earns and possesses.   Every time Willy Loman compares his life with his friend Charlie, I cringed at the thought that materialism can be overpowering. Sometimes we get uneasy when our neighbors have acquired a new television or a new refrigerator.  Or our friends flaunt a new iPhone model.  We want to keep up with them.  More so, competition becomes prevalent between families when it comes to their children.  For example, after Bernard leaves, Willy asks his sons Biff and Happy if Bernard is “well liked” at school.  The two answers Bernard is liked but not well liked.  He may be good at math but the two believe they would be even more successful than Bernard because they are “well liked.”

I am my father’s son

The father-and-son relationship is very apparent in the play.  The scenes between Will and Biff carried me away, pondering on my own relationship with my father.  Most fathers,  I think, have expectations for their children.  I believe that they too have dreams for their sons.  How many of us dare to sit down with our dad and have a heart-to-heart conversation with him?  There were quite remarkable scenes between Will and Biff and Happy that touched me the most.  I loved every confrontation and the ego battle between father and son.  I loved the restaurant scene where Happy persuaded Biff to tell their father about the latter’s meeting with Oliver.

Doing your job

How do we acquire material comforts in life?  Is it by intelligence alone?  Or is it by the like-ability of a person?  In Pahimakas  Sa Isang Ahente, Will Loman’s take on success depends on personal attractiveness.  That’s why, when Bill asks Oliver for a business plan, Will advises his son not to crack any jokes, and then to lighten the mood by telling funny stories, etc.  Sometimes, it seems that Will’s belief is superficial.  It makes us think about the meaning of hard work in achieving one’s dream.  It is not enough that we are “well liked” but doing our job efficiently can be a key to success. It’s quite a cliche, but true.

Identity and memory

Our struggles and issues in life reveal our identity.  In Will’s case, he tried to deny his incompetence as a salesman by creating dreams and ambitions that did not and would never happen.  Worse, he depended on his past and selected those events that had made him feel successful.  Will ended up remorseful and blamed everyone for his failure as a salesman.  The passage of time and the transition from past to present and back tied up the pieces together.  I understood Will Loman more and his decisions that lead to his impending doom.  I think that the theme of identity aside from the social relevance of the play is crucial.  Most of the scenes rely on Will’s memory which surfaced his regret and longing to make things fall into place.

Pahimakas and me

Witnessing the play acted out by veteran actors (Nanding Josef as Willy Loman, Gina Pareno as Linda Loman, Yul Servo as Biff) and even had the chance to take pictures with them, I felt lucky that I decided to buy the ticket for the last show.  I did not miss the opportunity to be moved by Miller’s classic work which we had slightly discussed in class.  Rolando Tinio’s translation brought the play closer to the audience, and despite being “American” in its context, is still relevant because of its universal themes.  Yes, my tears did well up.  And the rest of the audience I think ( I heard snuffles).  In the middle of the play, something crossed my mind.  I suddenly missed home.  I became like Biff Loman.  His anagnorisis was just enthralling.  “Habang tumatakbo ako mula eleventh floor, bigla akong napahinto…”  Watching the play made me ponder how much I miss home.  How much I wanted to go home.  But work is here.  And in here, in this jungle, you need to prove yourself. Make people like you.  But then again, are these enough?  In this society where power and money matter, it is possible that some of us who don’t know how to wade through the rough waters may be trapped.  Someday, when we grow old, our actions today may haunt us in the future.