My fascination with theater began at a very young age. I clearly remember watching “The King and I” at the Meralco Theater and being enthralled by the singing children and of course, the King of Siam and Anna.
As I got older, I dreamed of being part of the shows we watched, and excitedly signed up to audition for Repertory Philippines’ “Les Miserables” back in 1993. I sang “Castle on a Cloud” for no less than the late grand dame of Philippine theater, Zeneida “Bibot” Amador. For a huge theater fan, being part of a theater production felt like winning an insider’s pass to a world of magic and surprises.
But from the first day of rehearsals until opening night, I learned that there was no magic backstage to create those beautiful and special productions. It was night after night of hard work, perseverance and rehearsals that started promptly at 5 p.m. and lasted until whatever time it had to. If one arrived late, one might as well not have come at all because one would get a tongue-lashing from Amador.
Lines and sequences were repeated over and over again until Tita Bibot and Repertory Philippines’ co-founder Baby Barredo deemed them perfect, as they accepted nothing less. They paid attention to every little detail, and “Good enough” was unheard of as they did whatever it took to wring perfection out of you.
Finally, after months of preparations, we were ready for the Meralco Theater. I still remember the tingling sensation I would feel each time the lights would be dimmed and the music would start. It was a heady mixture of nervousness and excitement.
Today, almost 20 years later, I still get that tingling sensation when the music starts but as I am always on the other side of the stage now, there are no more shaking hands and knees for me—just giddy excitement at the thought of being transported to another world, even for just a few hours.
The best part for me now is being able to share it with my daughter, and watching her eyes light up in delight.
Two weeks ago, my daughter Adriana and I caught “The King and I” with my sister-in-law, Steph, and enjoyed it from beginning to end. Adriana especially loved watching the little children onstage. Leo Valdez was fantastic as the King—his accent was perfect and, of course, his voice, as strong and powerful as ever.
Monique Wilson played the part of Anna beautifully, as well. I was impressed by their attention to detail (even the elephant in the parade was blinking his eyes). And of course, nobody could miss the fabulous costumes of the cast, all by Rajo Laurel.
How lucky are we to live in a country so full of talent and artistry? As I sat and watched our artists, I knew for sure that there would always be more than enough shows to add fuel to our children’s imagination and creativity.
In case you are looking for a good show to catch with your kids this weekend, here is a rundown of some of the current offerings, as well as what we can look forward to in the next few months! Bring a student ID when purchasing your child’s ticket to get a student discount.
1. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I”—This is perhaps the most publicized show right now with billboards and ads everywhere! But rightly so, as this is a well-loved classic about a young English widow, Anna, who is hired by the King of Siam to tutor his “only” 67 children (he says he “started late”). What begins as confrontations between this “difficult woman” and the traditional king soon turns into love and mutual respect.
“The King and I” is showing at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World, Manila until Oct. 26. Tickets are available at the venue, www.ticketworld.com.ph or you can call 8919999.
2. “The Wizard of Oz”—This is the latest offering of the Repertory Philippines’ Children’s Theater and is an “enchanting adaptation of the all-time classic.” I haven’t seen it yet, but I look forward to seeing it soon with my daughter and watching Dorothy and her friends make their way to Oz while fighting the Wicked Witch of the West.
It’s not based on the movie, so don’t expect to hear the same songs, but I am sure it will be a wonderful experience for the whole family.
“The Wizard of Oz” is showing at OnStage Theater, 2/F Greenbelt 1, Makati, until Dec. 16. You can call 2150788 for tickets.
3. “Ibong Adarna”—Now here is a classic from Gantimpala Theater that will serve as both a production treat and a Philippine literature lesson. The Ibong Adarna is a beautiful mythical creature with the power to heal any illness, including that of the king. The story focuses on the quest of his three sons who each try to catch the magical creature. It is told through songs and Corrido poetry. The play also highlights Filipino values such as “sacrifice, faith, perseverance and forgiveness.”
“Ibong Adarna” is showing on Oct. 5-6 at Cinema 3 of SM Southmall, Las Piñas, and Oct. 12-13 at Star Theater, Star City, Pasay. Call 9985622 for tickets.
Tweens and up
4. “The Phantom of the Opera”—I am not quite sure what age children should be before watching this. Maybe this is better for the tweens and up, due to the more mature story line, which many of us have been in love with since we first heard the haunting strains of “All I Ask of You.” The songs, story, costumes, sets and the famous falling chandelier—what more can we ask for?
“The Phantom of the Opera” is showing until Oct. 14 at the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo Theater. Tickets are available online at www.ticketworld.com.ph or you can call 8919999.
5. “Peter Pan”—This well-known classic tale of a boy who refuses to grow up comes to life through Kids Acts Philippines. KAP is proud of the fact that they have successfully integrated the Harvard learning theory, Eight Multiple Intelligences of the Children, into their show in order to allow children to learn while enjoying the play.
“Peter Pan” is showing at Star Theater from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3. You can call 7501551 for tickets.
6. “Hansel and Gretel”—Just like “Peter Pan,” this is also a production of KAP, which means that children will be entertained by their fellow children. The show makes use of professional actors all aged between 7 to 13 years old. This production also makes use of the Eight Multiple Intelligences learning theory.
“Hansel and Gretel” is showing at Star Theater on Oct. 19-21 and Nov. 9-11. You can call 7501551 for tickets.
7. “Camp Rock”—This is Repertory Philippines’ next offering, aimed at older kids, based on the popular Disney Channel original movie. The story revolves around a group of young teens who have musical aspirations and attend a camp to hone their talents. Eventually, teenage drama catches up with them but they overcome it all just in time for a happy and inspiring ending for everyone.
“Camp Rock” is showing at OnStage Theater, 2/F Greenbelt 1, Makati, Nov. 16-Dec. 16. You can call 2150788 for tickets.
8. “Aladdin”—I am very excited to see Atlantis Production’s version of Disney Theatrical’s “Aladdin.” I am sure that they will sing the songs we all know so well, but I wonder if they will be able to have the flying carpet scenes and if so, how will they do it? I am sure it will still be a great ride.
“Aladdin” will be shown from Nov. 16 to Dec. 9 at the Meralco Theater. You can call 8927078 for tickets.
9. “Si Jack at ang Mahiwagang Beanstalk”—Who doesn’t know the story of Jack and the famous beanstalk? In this case, Gantimpala Theater has put together an all original Filipino musical, which their website says is “about using the imagination and how believing in the power of one’s dream brings it to realization.” It would certainly be a treat to see this classic tale become Filipino.
“Si Jack at ang Mahiwagang Beanstalk” will be showing on Dec. 6-8 at the AFP Theater and on Dec. 13-15 at Star Theater. You can call 9985622 for tickets.