REPORT CARD ON PERFORMING ARTS

3rd quarter saw couples odd and romantic

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FEU BAMBOO Band with folk dancers

The fifth anniversary concert of the Ryan Cayabyab Singers—Anezka, Erwin, Celine, Kaich, Poppert, Vince and VJ—at Music Museum, directed with brio by Rito Asilo, was a tribute to OPM, pop, musical theater, rock, R&B and what-have-you.

Erwin stood out because of his good looks and—in my subjective estimation—he sang with feeling a famous aria from Puccini’s “Tosca.” It was the only classical number in the show.

The seven are high-spirited singers and dancers. To be able to sing and dance while holding on to the mic for dear life (or dear notes) is quite a feat. Kudos.

The Singing Barber

After “Madama Butterfly” came another major opera production, Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” presented by Rustan’s and the Philippine-Italian Association, with stage direction by Antonio Petris, and Ruggero Barbieri conducting the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The cast displayed the comic flair demanded by the opera bouffa, with soprano Rachelle Gerodias delightful as the flirtatious Rosina.

Arthur Espiritu was the lone tenor among bass-baritones, and while he had the most beautiful voice, he just couldn’t match the lung power of the Italians Mario Cassi and Marco Filippo Romano, and even Andrew Fernando.

Play of the year

Tanghalang Ateneo’s “Sintang Dalisay” (Pure Love), an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which made waves in Minsk, Belarus, was restaged at the university’s Rizal Mini-Theater with a complete cast and its full, rambunctious splendor.

Under director Ricardo Abad, it became a beguiling Muslim music-dance drama marked by continuous, graceful, fluid movement of the arms, which mesmerized.

ROMANTIC COUPLE. Arman Ferrer and Cris Villonco

Young Ateneo alumni Nicolo Magno and Ia Solis were most affecting as the tragic lovers (who come to life at the end!), and Magno is a real theater find. “Sintang Dalisay” is the play of the year.

Just a few buildings away that day (at Gonzaga Hall Theater) was a very different musical play: Ateneo Blue Repertory’s “13.The Musical,” directed by Toff de Venecia. It was like entering a different world, as different as classic Tagalog is to American slang.

The musical was about a young Jewish boy’s “becoming a man,” and again you found youthful excellence and exuberance.

The couples

David Mercado as the cripple and RJ Santillan as the young hero in “13.The Musical” were an odd couple of sorts, although both were straight and their relationship was “normal.”

A more romantic couple (there were three couples, actually!)  were dashing tenor Arman Ferrer and lovely soprano Cris Villonco in Tanghalang Pilipino’s rousing operatic version of “Walang Sugat” (at Aurelio V. Tolentino Theater, CCP), as megged by Carlos Siguion-Reyna.

Other odd couples in different productions were Leo Valdez and Monique Wilson; and Eugene Domingo and Edgar Allan Guzman.

Valdez and Wilson headline the supercalifragilistic production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” given the lavish Resorts World Manila touch. Directed by Freddie Santos, it is ongoing at Newport Performing Arts Theater, Villamor Complex, Pasay City.

Following “Care Divas,” Peta (Philippine Educational Theater Association) had another hit in “Bona,” an updated baklang-bakla adaptation of the Brocka film classic, with snappy dialogue by Layeta Bucay and direction by Tuxqs Rutaquio.

As expected, Domingo and Guzman gave compelling performances, with the latter demonstrating why he was one of today’s hottest and most talented young actors.

Incidentally the tragic ending would have been more effective had it been done in silence, without the expletive.

FEU’s cultural season

Far Eastern University is in the midst of its 2012-2013 cultural season, celebrating collaboration with other universities. The most recent event, at the Art Deco FEU Auditorium, was “Pistahan,” a celebration of Filipino music and native instruments.

Featured were the FEU Bamboo Band; Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ Banda Kawayan; Barangay 14 Musikawayan of Caloocan City; and the Learning Tree Angklung Ensemble.

It was a most welcome presentation, and we look forward to more shows during the season.

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