Quantcast
Latest Stories

‘May ‘Himala!’–and, on its 10th year as a musical, is now in concert form

By

SCENE from the 2004 staging of “Himala, The Musical” at CCP Little Theater

Man-made miracles do happen and if there’s one person who knows this, it’s composer-music arranger-singer-actor-playwright Vincent de Jesus. Just last night, despite great odds, his co-written opus with Ricky Lee, “Himala, the Musical,” was restaged again to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

To think that about three weeks ago, the original chorale hired for the event backed out, while De Jesus had to shuttle back and forth from a location shoot in Calatagan, Batangas to the Peta Theater Center in Quezon City, where rehearsals took place. In between, he was finishing musical scores as part of his day job for a few TV productions.

Still, by some miracle, everything fell into place for “Himala, the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Musical.”

Faith and faithlessness

“The musical is about faith and faithlessness—how Filipinos, in times of trouble, turn to religion for comfort,” De Jesus said. The musical, based on Ishmael Bernal’s classic film that starred Nora Aunor, was a critical and commercial success when it was first staged at the 220-seat Experimental Theater (Huseng Batute) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2003 as part of Tanghalang Pilipino’s 20th season.

It was restaged the following year in a bigger venue, the 413-seat Little Theater (Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino). And in 2008, it was brought to Shanghai, China as the Philippine representative to the Shanghai International Theater Festival.

The final song in the musical, “Waláng Himala,” was also featured in CCP’s gala 40th Anniversary Concert “Rubies,” performed by mezzo-soprano Clarissa Ocampo with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Chino Toledo.

The original plan was to re-stage the musical about three years ago, but problems ensued, especially funding. Actors Isay Alvarez and Robert Seña, Cynthia and Lionel Guico, May Bayot (the original Elsa in the musical), Jay Cruz, Melvin Lee and De Jesus decided to form their own independent group called Pinoy Renaissance Project to remount, this time, “Himala The Musical” as a dance-opera.

“Unfortunately, May Bayot had health concerns that time so it didn’t push through. Last year, Jed Balsamo—our pianist, piano arranger and assistant musical director—and I had a conversation and thought ‘Why don’t we do it now?’ I talked to the original cast and they were excited to do it again,” said De Jesus.

Dream project

For this year, though not part of the original season lineup by the Philippine Educational Theater Association, Peta’s artistic director Maribel Legarda liked the idea and offered to have Peta co-present it with a new producer, Touchworx Group.

“We also decided to mount it as a dramatized concert, focusing on the singing,” said De Jesus.

“Though most of the songs are not particularly ‘hummable,’ because they weren’t composed for that reason, they are songs which breathe life into the characters, weave the emotional thread of the play, underscore the meaning of the text and reinforce the space and the rhythm of the musical,” said De Jesus.

Gino Gonzales’ set for the concert staging at Peta Theater Center

From the final shooting script, De Jesus transformed Lee’s original text into lyrics that fit his musical score. He came up with about 26 songs.

For the 10th anniversary version, De Jesus said he had more inputs in the chorus parts. “I made improvements in the arrangements of some songs while others were updated and tweaked. But, as a whole, the score is still very much the same, only better.”

On the side, another dream project has also materialized: the 22-track “Himala, The Musical” original cast recording double-CD album. There’s also the songbook, so fans of the musical and aspiring singers could sing them in parties or “during auditions.” Both are available in limited copies during the two-weekend run until March 24.

The eight shows are also products of some divine intervention. De Jesus explained that it was difficult to gather the cast, so there were supposed to be only two shows for the anniversary.  But two more dates were added. And when Touchworx came in, it stretched to eight shows.

Original cast

Bayot still plays the lead role of Elsa with no alternate. De Jesus said he sees no other actress who could play the part.

“She is one of the most passionate actors I’ve ever worked with,” he pointed out. “She doesn’t hold back when she performs. I’ve worked with her many times. She has a powerful voice and she sings with her soul. Hindi ko maalala na namaos siya, ever (I don’t recall a time when she lost her voice).”

Most of the original cast is also joining this 10th anniversary staging: Isay Alvarez as Nimia, Cynthia Guico as Chayong, Dulce and Mia Bolanos alternating as Nanay Saling, Melvin Lee and Lionel Guico alternating as the priest.

The original ensemble will also be present, plus new cast members that include Kalila Aguilos alternating as Nimia; Myke Salomon as Pilo, who has no alternate; and OJ Mariano, who will be playing Orly the filmmaker (Eladio Pamaran played the part in the 2003-2004 stagings) with no alternate.

Even the original artistic staff members are back: Gino Gonzales as production designer, Jonjon Villareal as lighting designer, Soxie Topacio as stage director. The original choreographer, Jay Cruz, acts as dance consultant, with Carlon Matobato as the new choreographer.

De Jesus said that a professional chorale will sing the part of the “taumbayan.” He recounted talking to a chorale group as early as last year and they said yes to the project. Sadly, a few weeks before the performance, the chorale backed out. Luckily, with the help of some friends, De Jesus got Viva Voce and the UST Singers Alumni.

In all, De Jesus said there are more than 50 people involved in this production.

Raw and emotional

“HIMALA, TheMusical” composer Vince de Jesus

The success of the production, he said, is due to the musical having grown close to the hearts of everyone in the cast. Friendships developed in the course of the productions and the cast members were driven to tears while singing the songs.

De Jesus said that this was probably due to the personal nature of the lyrics. “Hindi puwedeng kantahin nang walang emotional investment kasi halatang-halata.”

The music is raw and highly emotional, melodic and discordant, De Jesus said, pointing out that it has a very Pinoy flavor and is quite different from the Broadway template. “Hindi siya formula musical.”

In most contemporary musicals, he noted, “One could hear the almost predictable formula: the lyrical pop ballad goes to the beautiful heroine, the ‘Sturm und Drang’ solo goes to the antagonist, while the riotous number goes to the clown.”

De Jesus said he tried hard to avoid such musical stereotyping in “Himala,” evading “musical traps” that composers like him usually fall into.

And while he’s more known as a composer of musical comedies (“ZsaZsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal” immediately comes to mind), De Jesus said “Himala” is closest to his heart: “It’s a serious musical kasi. Makabagbag-damdamin. As a person, mas ganito talaga ang template ko—brooding, emotional and sentimental.”

“Himala—the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Musical” runs until March 24, 2013 at the Peta Theater Center. For tickets, call TicketWorld 9819999 or Peta  7256244, 0917-5765400, 0917-5378313, 0917-5379092, 0918-9005370.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: musical , Peta , Philippine Educational Theater Association , stage play , Super , The Musical , Theater , Vincent de Jesus , “Himala”



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  8. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  9. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  10. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  1. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  4. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  7. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  8. Prince William fuels speculation of second royal baby
  9. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  10. This is not just a farm
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem
  • Tanchanco, former NFA head; 83
  • Pope seeks to bring faith to ‘ends of the Earth’
  • Meteor shower to light up PH skies
  • Positive in UAE, returning Filipino nurse tests negative
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Rain or Shine, Ginebra clash for No. 6 spot
  • Ateneo eyes quarterfinal spot vs Benilde
  • Style contrast marks OneFC ‘Rise of Heroes’
  • ‘Pacquiao a great ambassador for basketball’
  • Lifestyle

  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  • Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  • Entertainment

  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Awarded TV couple brings Jesus’ life to the big screen
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
    Marketplace