When ingenious design, splendid singing don’t always make for terrific theater
It’s 2018—one more year before the second decade of the new millennium wraps up. So, one simply must question the existence of a jukebox musical like “All Out of Love,” especially since its Filipino contemporaries happen to be shows as nuanced and painstakingly crafted as the recent hits “Sa Wakas,” “Rak of Aegis” and “Ako si Josephine.”
Billed as a “world premiere,” with an all-non-Filipino creative team led by director Darren Yap, “All Out of Love” spins a New York City love story out of the Air Supply songbook.
That’s all there is to it, really, and if the show isn’t outright terrible, it’s terribly basic, its length not commensurate to its depth and substance.
There’s hardly any excitement in the too-garrulous, drawn-out proceedings, and one quickly becomes a passive observer waiting for song after song after song to unfold.
The exasperatingly thin story (by Jim Millan) transpires on a single night, and can be summarized as “man-child runs after girl who got away”—(musical) theater’s nth spin on this formula.
In his newest album’s launch party, Jamie Crimson (Mig Ayesa) decides it’s worth throwing all his success away if it means winning back the love of his life, down-on-her-luck singer Rayne (Rachel Alejandro).
Aiding him in this mission is Stacie King (Tanya Manalang), the daughter of his big-shot record producer (Raymund Concepcion).
It’s admirable how well the lead performers sell their characters: Ayesa as a rock star with many feelings, and especially Manalang, in what is essentially a shapeless, thankless role as a prop to the male lead.
Unsurprisingly, they sing the hell out of those Air Supply classics, which are rubberstamped into the plot too respectfully (in contrast, say, to the successful, radical reinvention of the Aegis repertoire in “Rak of Aegis”).
The idea, then, that this version of “All Out of Love” would work better as a concert isn’t farfetched—it may even be preferable.
Still, there’s the rather inventive set and lighting design (by Robert Brunton and Trudy Dalgleish, respectively) to remind the viewer of this production’s theatrical potential.
The basic skeletal scaffolding, illuminated around the borders in neon lights to create the illusion of cubes piled on top of each other, does the trick of providing functional settings for the events in the story: a dressing room on the second floor, a nightclub, a noisy restaurant.
More significantly, the humongous LED screen of the Newport Performing Arts Theater is actually put to proper, effective use: not as a distracting, unreal principal element of the set, but as subdued extension of the background. Who knew that all it takes to make the fake projections look real is by placing real objects in front of them?
Of course, ingenious design and splendid singing don’t automatically make for terrific theater. If this “world premiere” really plans to tour the world, its first stop should be a lengthy one in the workroom. —CONTRIBUTED
“All Out of Love” has remaining performances today and tomorrow at Resorts World Manila. Call 8919999 or visit ticketworld.com.ph for tickets.
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