Monday, October 8, 2012

Nine, The Seagull, and Other Matters

i. The Journey

1. Last Friday, friends and I watched Atlantis Productions' staging of Kopit and Yeston's Nine (which closed yesterday) at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City. How I got to the theater is already an epic in itself. In the spirit of good vibes, I shall not disclose my amazing journey here. In psychology, they call it repression. Sad to say, I missed the first one-and-a-half lines of the musical. And that Friday traffic will forever be a curse of Manila.

ii. The Musical

2. Probably the most elaborate set design the Romulo Auditorium will ever have. David Gallo is indisputably a master of his craft. Jay Aranda's lights only made it all the more impossible not to fall in love with the technicals of the show.

3. The singing was impeccable. "Lalalalalala..." is still stuck in my mind. The inconsistency in the accents of the cast, that was disturbing. Why weren't they able to settle on just one?

4. Cherie Gil as Liliane. Carla Guevara-Laforteza as Carla. These two gorgeous women inhabiting their roles with so much passion and dedication won't be leaving my memory anytime soon (or ever).

5. Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, you are the definition of clarity. Can you do no wrong onstage? And a shout-out to Reg Claravall as the best gondolier in town.  

6. Eula Valdes was a stunning demi-goddess as Claudia - she could have been goddess, were it not for the imperfect top notes in Unusual Way

7. What to make, then, of a Nine whose weakest link is ultimately its Guido Contini? The role is one of the toughest in the gamut of musical theater leads, no doubt. But it still pains me to say that Jett Pangan's Guido was nowhere near his best (which was seen and should be seen again in Next to Normal - a heartbreaking turn as Dan Goodman). Where was genuine desperation? Where was internal destruction? In the end, the singing was soaring, the character, a caricature. (Bobby in Company, that's what Mr. Pangan ought to do next. Theater gods, hear this prayer.)

8. Did I enjoy Nine? Yes, though watching with friends probably had much to do with that.   

UP Med 2016 at Nine.

iii. The Stage Door

9. The only time I've "stagedoored" was during Cats with Lea Salonga. But Reg is a friend of one of us, so there. Never knew this could be so much fun, ambushing the actors.

10. Menchu, on whether she'll finally do Gypsy next year: "I want to!!!" (Grabs my shoulders and shakes me.)

11. Cherie Gil, on the possibility of ever doing Doubt again: "I don't know if that's possible, but I'd like to do another role. I'm doing The Graudate next year."

12. Ima Castro (Sarraghina), upon finding out we're from UP Med: "UP Med?! My gosh, UP Med!"

13. Jay Glorioso (Guido's mother) is the gentlest person ever.

iv. The Aftermath

14. We went to Mercato. Rafael Rosell was there. I intentionally passed by him, just so I can claim to have passed by him. Marina is still the 2nd best Filipino television soap for me (after Tayong Dalawa). This is not a discussion on local television soaps, so leave out the criticism.

v. The Next Day

15. Went to UP Diliman for the final English performance of Dulaang UP's The Seagull (by Anton Chekhov). Now where did I read (online) that the Guerrero Theater is in Palma Hall Annex? And to the woman in PhAn who compassionately told me to take an ikot to get to the theater, did you even hear which theater I was asking about?

16. There are so many things that could have gone right with this take on The Seagull. Focus was something the production could have given more work on.

17. Ana Abad Santos as Irina stole the entire show. They should have renamed this The Seagull, or the Ana Abad Santos show, featuring Jeremy Domingo. Mr. Domingo played Trigorin. Leo Rialp (Dorn), Stella Canete Balucas (Polina), Jaime Yambao (Shamraev), and Jacques Borlaza (Sorin) round out the list of six performers who actually delivered and gave justice to their roles. This is all the praise I have for the entire company of actors.

18. I just have to get this out of my system: The actor who played Konstantin was a warbling mess.

vi. The Publication

19. I'm finally getting published! "Cafe Comforts" will appear in the Fall issue of Diverse Voices Quarterly, an American online literary magazine. As the High School Musical tune goes, "It's the start of something new..."

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