Friday, December 13, 2013


December 14, 2013

1 THRIFT SHOP Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Wanz (#1 6 weeks nc)
2 BLURRED LINES Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. + Pharrell (#1 12 weeks)
3 RADIOACTIVE Imagine Dragons
4 HARLEM SHAKE Baauer (#1 5 weeks)
5 CAN'T HOLD US Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Ray Dalton (#1 5 weeks)
6 MIRRORS Justin Timberlake
7 JUST GIVE ME A REASON P!nk Featuring Nate Ruess (#1 3 weeks)
8 WHEN I WAS YOUR MAN Bruno Mars (#1 1 week)
9 CRUISE Florida Georgia Line Featuring Nelly
10 ROAR Katy Perry (#1 2 weeks)

11 LOCKED OUT OF HEAVEN Bruno Mars (#1 4 weeks + 2 weeks 2012)
12 HO HEY The Lumineers
13 STAY Rihanna Featuring Mikky Ekko
14 GET LUCKY Daft Punk Featuring Pharrell Williams
15 ROYALS Lorde (#1 9 weeks)
17 WE CAN'T STOP Miley Cyrus
18 WRECKING BALL Miley Cyrus (#1 3 weeks nc)
19 WAKE ME UP! Avicii
20 SUIT & TIE Justin Timberlake Featuring JAY Z

22 HOLY GRAIL Jay Z Featuring Justin Timberlake
23 SCREAM & SHOUT & Britney Spears
24 CLARITY Zedd Featuring Foxes
26 DON'T YOU WORRY CHILD Swedish House Mafia Featuring John Martin
27 DIAMONDS Rihanna (#1 4 weeks 2012)
28 I LOVE IT Icona Pop Featuring Charli XCX
29 SAFE AND SOUND Capital Cities
30 TREASURE Bruno Mars

31 THE WAY Ariana Grande Featuring Mac Miller
33 COME & GET IT Selena Gomez
34 HOLD ON, WE'RE GOING HOME Drake Featuring Majid Jordan
35 DAYLIGHT Maroon 5
36 FEEL THIS MOMENT Pitbull Featuring Christina Aguilera
37 APPLAUSE Lady Gaga
38 ONE MORE NIGHT Maroon 5 (#1 9 weeks 2012)
39 LOVE ME Lil Wayne Featuring Drake & Future

41 F**KIN PROBLEMS A$AP Rocky Featuring Drake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar
42 BEAUTY AND A BEAT Justin Bieber Featuring Nicki Minaj
43 SAME LOVE Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Mary Lambert
44 SWEET NOTHING Calvin Harris Featuring Florence Welch
45 SUMMERTIME SADNESS Lana Del Rey & Cedric Gervais
46 HOME Phillip Phillips
47 IT'S TIME Imagine Dragons
48 POWER TRIP J. Cole Featuring Miguel
49 GIRL ON FIRE Alicia Keys Featuring Nicki Minaj
50 HEART ATTACK Demi Lovato

52 I WILL WAIT Mumford & Sons
53 TRY P!nk
54 WAGON WHEEL Darius Rucker
56 I NEED YOUR LOVE Calvin Harris Featuring Ellie Goulding
57 DIE YOUNG Ke$ha
59 BAD Wale Featuring Tiara Thomas Or Rihanna
60 BOYS 'ROUND HERE Blake Shelton Featuring Pistol Annies & Friends

61 GONE, GONE, GONE Phillip Phillips
62 DEMONS Imagine Dragons
64 I CRY Flo Rida
65 LITTLE TALKS Of Monsters And Men
66 THE OTHER SIDE Jason Derulo
67 BERZERK Eminem
68 CATCH MY BREATH Kelly Clarkson
69 CRASH MY PARTY Luke Bryan
70 POUR IT UP Rihanna

71 22 Taylor Swift
72 I WANT CRAZY Hunter Hayes
73 THE FOX Ylvis
74 BEST SONG EVER One Direction
75 THE A TEAM Ed Sheeran
76 CARRY ON fun.
77 HIGHWAY DON'T CARE Tim McGraw With Taylor Swift
79 SWIMMING POOLS (DRANK) Kendrick Lamar
80 SURE BE COOL IF YOU DID Blake Shelton

81 #BEAUTIFUL Mariah Carey Featuring Miguel
82 TROUBLEMAKER Olly Murs Featuring Flo Rida
84 ADORN Miguel
85 HALL OF FAME The Script Featuring
87 U.O.E.N.O. Rocko Featuring Future & Rick Ross
88 NEXT TO ME Emeli Sande
89 MAMA'S BROKEN HEART Miranda Lambert
90 IT GOES LIKE THIS Thomas Rhett

91 BUGATTI Ace Hood Featuring Future & Rick Ross
92 WANTED Hunter Hayes
93 DOWNTOWN Lady Antebellum
94 GET YOUR SHINE ON Florida Georgia Line
95 #THATPOWER Featuring Justin Bieber
96 BRAVE Sara Bareilles
97 LET HER GO Passenger
99 I'M DIFFERENT 2 Chainz
100 STILL INTO YOU Paramore




Saturday, December 7, 2013

Review of DUP's TEATRO PORVENIR: Bonifacio as an Actor

December 7, 2013

The latest production by Dulaang UP is also inspired by the 150th birth anniversary of Gat. Andres Bonfacio being celebrated this year.  This play, "Teatro Porvenir" is already the third Bonifacio play I have seen this year, following the PhilStagers' "Bonifacio Isang Sarsuwela" (MY REVIEW) and just recently TP's "San Andres B." (MY REVIEW).

Unlike the first two, "Teatro Porvenir" is a straight play.  Much like "San Andes B.", the first act started by showing Bonifacio with his two brothers and two sisters making fans and canes. Then it goes one to talk about the renegade theater group that Bonifacio joined, the "Teatro Porvenir," which focuses on local characters, settings and issues, and its rivalry with "Teatro Infantil," the more traditional group that deals with faraway lands, royalty and themes.  

We meet Aurelio Tolentino (Joel Seracho), the prolific playwright, interacting with not only Andres Bonifacio (Russell Legaspi), but also Macario Sakay (Jojit Lorenzo) and Emilio Jacinto (Paul Jake Paule) among his actors.  We also see Bonifacio pay court to his future wife Gregoria de Jesus (Jean Judith Javier).  At the end of the first act, Bonifacio would realize that the way to gain freedom from Spanish oppression is not with Theater, but with an actual armed Revolution.

The second act has more straightforward history telling.  Teatro Porvenir ceases to exist as the drama of real life with the KKK is born. We will see Emilio Aguinaldo and Daniel Tirona as antagonists, as in several other Bonifacio stories.  The play goes through Bonifacio's last days, his betrayal, his trial, his death, creatively told in parallel with his wife, as she muses about its aftermath.  There was even a quasi-fantasy scene of Bonifacio with Jose Rizal.  We also see the entry of the Americans and the fates of Jacinto and Sakay. Tolentino promises that he will continue to create plays about his friends to serve as inspiration for future generations, as the Revolution is far from over.

It is not a good thing when the stage presence of the lead character is overwhelmed by the stage presence of the supporting characters.  Russell Legaspi, while basically proficient as an actor, did not have the requisite charisma for the lead role of Bonifacio.  He does not stand out in the crowd scenes at all.  I wonder how it would have been if I had caught his alternate, screen actor Romnick Sarmienta, in this role instead.  

Joel Seracho imbues Tolentino with passion for the theater throughout the revolution and afterwards. Jojit Lorenzo is a very natural actor as Sakay, with electric stage presence that can command the stage when he is on it.  This is despite the bad wig he had to wear.  Paul Jake Paule stands out because of his body build, but he seemed very nervous in his portrayal as Jacinto.  His stirring final monologue though makes up for his shaky earlier scenes. Jean Judith Javier I remember as Sisa from DUP's Noli Me Tangere the Opera. She really has this haunting presence onstage, and we get to hear her dramatic singing voice as well here as Ka Oryang.

Congratulations to DUP artistic director Alexander Cortez and the rest of the DUP cast and crew for successfully bringing to life this formidable complex play written by Tim Dacanay. 

"Teatro Porvenir" plays at the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater, in Palma Hall, UP Diliman.  It has two more performances left (10 am and 3 pm) as its run ends today, December 8, 2013. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Recap of PLAYLIST: Celebrating Lea Salonga's 35th Year in Showbiz

December 7, 2013

Ticket says the concert will start at 8 pm.  The traffic in Manila en route to PICC would not be so cooperative.  Mercifully, the production decided to start the show by 8:30 pm instead, so I was able to make it to the venue before the show.  There were still a lot of empty seats where I sat in Level 3 of the Orchestra section even when the show began.  Some people were even trickling in past 9 pm already.

To start the concert, Gerard Salonga led the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra in an overture of classic Lea Salonga songs, from "Tomorrow", to "I Am But a Small Voice", from "Sun and Moon" to "Whole New World."  There were eight brightly lit panels on the backdrop that spelled the concert title PLAYLIST, which later read "35 Years".  Lea Salonga then made her entrance wearing a black suit and pants outfit.  Her first song would be "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To?)".  Suddenly she stopped, then roared out Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire".  Needless to say, she was in perfect voice this evening and we are definitely in for an excellent concert.

In her first spiel, Lea described this concert to be "the soundtrack of her life, her playlist."  She called it a "musical kuwentuhan (story-telling)".  From that, she sang Miley Cyrus' "The Climb".  Afterwards, an acoustic guitar began to play (by Mr. Cesar Aguas) as Lea took her seat on a stool.  Most unexpectedly she began to sing an acoustic version of Robin Thicke's racy hit song "Blurred Lines" to which she gave a life of her own. She would later dedicate this song to Gerald Anderson and Sam Milby, who inspired her to sing it.  Then, she sang her own poignant version of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful".

For the next portion, she began to talk about her recent stint as judge on "The Voice of the Philippines" TV show, and how she is the first judge to mentor the first winner.  From there, she introduced Mitoy Yonting.  He entered singing Ric Segreto's "Don't Know What to Do", after which Lea answered with Kuh Ledesma's "I Think I'm in Love."  Mitoy sang Side A's "Hold On", then Lea countered with Kuh's "Till I Met You."  Together they sang Basil Valdez' "You."  After a little seemingly awkward chatting between the two, Lea left Mitoy on stage for a while.  He regaled the audience with his fabled range singing Air Supply's version of "The Power of Love."

Lea then came back out, wearing a bright blue long gown.  She opened this set with Adele's "Chasing Pavements."  She then talked about admiring Barbara Streisand's purity and precision as a child which she aims for to this day, and launched into her own version of "Evergreen."  Then some funny old photographs of Lea as a teenager flashed on the panels onstage.  She described herself as a child on the 1980s and lengthily talked about her hair teasing and Aquanet spraying regimen back then.  She then said that the music of the 80s were so good.  

Ironically, of the songs she sang after that prolonged intro spiel, only one was really released in the 1980s and that was Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody."  "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)" was a duet of Streisand and Donna Summer released in 1979.  The others were from Houston's soundtrack album from her 1992 film The Bodyguard, namely "I'm Every Woman," "Run to You" and "I Will Always Love You."  Lea's falsetto runs were flawless in those last two ballads, sounding exactly like Whitney.

Suddenly, Ms. Ai Ai delas Alas breathlessly ran in from the orchestra section onto the stage, apparently a surprise appearance.  The audience laughed out loud as Ai Ai dished out her self-depreciating humor, saying how Lea's audience were so polite and quiet, while her audiences lacked urbanity and were jologs.  The two reprised two duets they did in a past concert, Imelda Papin's "Isang Linggong Pag-ibig" and Aegis' "Halik."  Ai Ai was riotous as ever, and trooped on despite her very hoarse voice.  Lea maintained her class as she effortlessly sang those local jukebox classics.

Calling Ai Ai "a force of nature" as she exited, Lea started to talk about the natural calamities that just the country had just experienced.  From there, she began to sing a most beautiful and meaningful version of Maureen McGovern's "The Morning After" (theme from The Poseidon Adventure).  After this, Lea went upbeat as she sang "Love Will Keep Us Together" by the Captain and Tennille. 

Lea then began to introduce her next guest, Ms. Rachel Ann Go, who came in wearing a skin tight shiny green gown.  The first song they sang together was "For Good" from Wicked.  Lea then left Rachel alone on stage, and Rachel sang "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid, her first musical theater role.  Lea came back out wearing a red beaded long gown, and together they sang the song that Rachel will sing as Gigi come April of 2014 in London, "The Movie in My Mind."  Of course, Lea sang the Kim part, which she says is getting harder to sing each year.  The duet was out of this world excellent!  It was definitely the highlight of the whole concert for me.

When Rachel Ann left the stage, Lea talked about how the Philippines is now the Broadway of South East Asia. She cited in particular Rama Hari by Ryan Cayabyab, and proceed to sing a song "Magbalik Ka Na Mahal" from this original Filipino musical.  Lea then proudly sang "Higher", a song specifically written for her and her character in the new musical Allegiance, which is waiting for its Broadway debut.  She ended her regular set with with the brassy "Back to Before" from Ragtime.  After that, she bid her goodbyes and left the stage. That was around 10:30 pm.

The orchestra with Gerald Salonga and the backup singers never left the stage, and the spot lights were still spiraling around.  We know this concert is not yet done.  Even Gerald turned to the audience to encourage everyone to shout for more!

Lea reentered the stage wearing a green flowing gown.  When she sat on a stool for her next song, the gown's long slit revealed Lea's leg, which drew whistles from the appreciative audience.  She sang a couple of Christmas carols, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and a jazzed-up version of "Jingle Bells."  She then told the audience that she might have a third movie with Aga Muhlach, and then segued to singing a heartfelt acoustic version of "Sana'y Maulit Muli."  (** This following video is from the second night when Aga surprised Lea by going up the stage, announcing that their next film together has been greenlit by Star Cinema.)

Finally, she began to sing a string of ABBA songs, "Mamma Mia", "Take a Chance On Me" and "Dancing Queen."  Lea tried to encourage the audience to dance along, but too bad, there were very few takers of that invitation.  Nevertheless, she was exuberant in her renditions of these dance classics.  After the last song, she bid her real goodbye and the show is really over.  That was generous 30 minute encore she gave us. 

This anniversary concert was another showcase of Lea Salonga's artistry and musicality, as all her past shows had been.  She knew how to pick songs to highlight her precious vocal instrument and hers was definitely in tip-top shape even for two and a half hours.  Her personality seemed to have loosened up considerably, getting more adventurous in her song choices, knowing fully well how to perform them in her signature way. Congratulations, Ms. Lea Salonga, and looking forward to many more years of hearing and watching you perform beautiful music!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review of TP's SAN ANDRES B.: Bonifacio as Hero and Saint

December 1, 2013

There are so many productions about Andres Bonifacio this year because 2013 is his 150th birth anniversary. Tanghalang Pilipino's latest show, "San Andres B," an original Filipino opera, is one of them.  

The libretto is by National Artist for Literature, Virgilio Almario.  The music is by Josefino Chino Toledo, who also conducted the orchestra during the performance.  This is directed by the very busy and versatile wunderkind Floy Quintos, who threatens that this work will challenge us to go beyond comfort zones.

In Act 1, you see Andres Bonifacio with his siblings and the fans and canes they sell, then with his theater group (the Teatro Porvenir), then meeting his idol Dr. Jose Rizal in La Liga Filipina. However, you also see Andres being addressed by three women dressed like the Virgin Mary, as the populace was being tormented by four demons dressed in ragged finery.  

The first few scenes can really make you scratch your head.  What is this show all about? This will not be a typical biographical drama with a linear progression.  This show will be suffused with layered metaphors. As you watch, you can connect the dots, but it may not be so easy with the spotty sound system. Frankly, I hardly understood a word being sung, though fortunately, recited lines were clearer.  I do not know if where I sat (about the 12th row up) was a factor.

Dondi Ong and Marvin Gayramon are excellent classical singers, no doubt about that. However, as Andres Bonifacio and Jose Rizal, unfortunately the physical disconnect was too glaring and major to ignore.  We all have preconceived ideas on how Bonifacio and Rizal look like, and these two actors, no matter how perfect their singing voices were, simply could not fit into those iconic roles because of the way they look. I am thinking that maybe the songs Bonifacio had to sing were simply too challenging for just any tenor to hit, and it was only THE Dondi Ong who could hit those killer notes.  Still, this odd casting of lead roles made Act 1 distractingly unconvincing.

But after the 20 minute intermission and Act 2 kicked in, it was a whole new ball game.  (To tell you the truth, I had moved down to an empty seat on the 2nd row during the intermission, to be much nearer the stage now to hear the lines better.)

In the very first scene, we meet Gregoria de Jesus for the first time, as she marries Bonifacio. Ka Oryang was played by the sublime Ms. Margarita Roco.  She plays this role with so much sensuality and passion.  She came across as a really heroic person in her solo aria "Mga Luksang Pangitain" more than Ong did in the entire Act 1.  The audience gave her spontaneous applause right after her breathtaking song.  It was the first time that happened in the whole play.  Ms. Roco's performance, even in that song alone, was already worth the price of admission.

Another performer who stood out in Act 2 was Antonio Ferrer as Emilio Jacinto.  He had the requisite lean body build and masculine stance to be a convincing Katipunero.  His tenor voice is also very strong.  Just had to process a little that I pictured Jacinto to be more of an intellectual type, being the Brains of the Katipunan and all.  But that is only a minor quibble. He could be a more fitting Bonifacio in a future production of this show.

A third performer who stepped into his own in Act 2 is Nicolo Magno. In Act 1, he was just one of the four beggars ("Pulubi") representing the decaying Spanish government who rampantly raped and pillaged the country.  Even then, Magno already stood out because of this younger age (compared to the other three) and his daring costume that bared his abs even below the umbilicus.  But in Act 2, he had featured solos in both spoken and sung lines and dance moves that further pushed him out to be noticed among his companions.  He actually had one of the loudest applause during the curtain call, especially from the females in the audience.

Act 2 is what it was all about.  In fact, Act 2 could have been the whole play already.  We get the full message loud and clear here.  Bonifacio as hero and as saint.  There were parallels to the passion of the Christ in Gethsemane all the way to Calvary.  There was a strongly sung and choreographed number called "Tonto (3) Gago" which was simply so stirring to hear and watch.  The beautiful final tableau was amazingly potent in its drama and symbolism.  Act 2 was written, staged, acted and sung so well that before the last scene I could already accept Ong as Bonifacio. Act 2 definitely saves the show, and in fact, makes the show very much worth watching.

The one consistently good thing about the whole show is the performance of Grupo 20/21 under the baton of Maestro Chino Toledo.  Grupo 20/21 is a new chamber music ensemble dedicated primarily to the performance of works from the last and the present century, especially Filipino and Asian composers.  "San Andres B" is only the initial project of this group, and they sounded like they have played music together for years..

Congratulations to the whole Tanghalang Pilipino cast and crew for this brave and ground-breaking production. Its operatic style is novel, not the typical classical nor is it rock or pop opera.  Act 1 may be tough to wade through its 45 minutes, but the spectacular Act 2 makes this essential viewing, must-watch theater.

"San Andres B" plays at the Little Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines only until next week. Remaining show times are 8 pm on December 6 and 7; and 3 pm on December 7 and 8, 2013.  Tickets are priced at P800 regular patrons and P400 for students.  Just one more weekend left!