My daughter and I were fortunate enough to have been able to watch the final Technical Dress Rehearsal of the comeback production of Trumpets entitled "The Bluebird of Happiness." I will not be able watch during the regular run because of prior travel plans, so it was indeed lucky that the stars aligned for me to be able to see and write about this musical before I leave. I am very happy because this play is one of the most beautiful original Filipino theater presentations I have ever seen, both musically and technically.
Set on Christmas eve in a village somewhere while neighbors are fussing around with their gifts, little Mytyl and her younger brother Tyltyl were feeling miserable inside their poor little hut. They have no tree, and no gifts, their dad's still out working and their mother is about to give birth to a younger sibling they are not looking forward to.
Later that night, an ugly fairy named Berylune tells them that the first step to finding happiness is to find a certain Bluebird of Happiness. She also turns their pet dog Tylo and pet cat Tylette into human forms to serve as their guides. Finally, she gives them Light to serve as their illumination during their overnight quest.
Their quest brings them to the Land of Memory (where they meet their dear departed Grandparents), the Land of Night (where they meet the charismatic Night), the Land of the Trees (where they learn some lessons about the environment), the Land of Luxury (where they discover how to set priorities), the Land of the Future (where they meet their future little brother) and the Graveyard (where they face their ultimate fears). Will the ever-combative siblings ever get along with each other? Will they ever catch the Bluebird of Happiness before daybreak and live happily ever after?
As the lead characters, Chimmi Kohchet-Chua (playing bossy Mytyl) and Anton Posadas (playing the mischievous Tyltyl) had perfect chemistry with each other as siblings who cannot stand each other. Kohchet-Chua was positively incandescent in her stage debut, especially in her remarkable solo rendition of the title song in Act 2. Despite a lapel microphone glitch for a number of scenes in Act 1, Posadas, a stage veteran already at his tender age, was unfazed, singing and delivering his lines with confidence like a true professional. Their awesome talents in singing and acting are proof that there IS a bright future to Philippine musical theater. Their alternates in these central roles are the team of Alessa Zialcita and Guido Gatmaytan.
The characters the kids interact with were all played by seasoned professionals. Jennifer Villegas-dela Cruz has such a clear singing voice as Berylune. A luminous Carla Guevarra-Laforteza illuminates the stage with her beauty and lilting soprano as Light. Robie Zialcita plays the loyal dog Tylo very delightfully. He really shone in "Tylo's Spot", a song and dance number which he performed with the cute "unborn" children. The slinky cat Tylette was played with feline wiles by Lynn Sherman. Her highlight was her sinister "Tango of Treachery" duet with Night.
Who best to play Grandma Tyl but the ever-reliable Ms. Joy Virata? Grandpa Tyl was played by a sprightly Steve Cadd. Night was a dark yet flamboyant character played with aplomb by Joel Trinidad, who was oozing with evil glee. Raymond Concepcion gets to play three characters, the Oak Tree (with the deep Optimus Prime-like voice), Father Time and the kids' Father. His reverberating deep baritone voice is strong and masterful. Mayen Bustamante-Cadd lovingly plays their Mother.
The whole production had a vibe that you were not watching a Filipino play. It had a distinctly foreign flavor, very much like a Disney production. While the story was based on a Belgian play by Maurice Maeterlinck, this production is proudly all-Filipino. The music was composed by Rony Fortich, now on his seventh year as Musical Director of Hongkong Disneyland. The sweeping musical arrangements were care of Mon Faustino. The book and libretto by Director Jaime del Mundo was so witty and insightful, such a joy.
The stage design was a magical work of art in itself. No expense had been spared for the elaborate set pieces and colorful costumes by Mio Infante. As with the music, you can see influences of Walt Disney films, like "Beauty and the Beast", "Hercules" and "Princess and the Frog". The opening of Act 2 alone in the lavish Land of Luxury with a huge real chandelier as its backdrop is a prime example of the opulence of the sets. The intense scene with the giant trees in the Enchanted Forest was very imaginatively staged. The amazing lighting effects by John Batalla impressively create illusions of three-dimensionality and drama.
Sweet Plantado's expert voice coaching was very much evident in the vocal interpretation of the songs, especially by the kids. She will also be playing Light in some shows. The other members of the crew were: GA Fallarme for the Video Projection Designs, Myrene Santos for Hair & Make-up Design, and Nancy Crowe for Choreography.
"Bluebird" is a fine example of Filipino talent and ingenuity that is world class and first rate. You will forget that you are in Meralco Theater when you watch this play, because of the magical atmosphere the play creates. Since Trumpets is the Asia’s first professional gospel theater group, aside from enjoying the show, you and your kids will also pick up valuable life lessons about being happy and content.
Congratulations to Director Jaime del Mundo and the rest of the cast and crew of Trumpets, led by its president, Mr. Audie Gemora for this highly entertaining and deeply meaningful production! This promises to be a future Christmas season staple for years to come.
"The Bluebird of Happiness" runs weekends from September 27 – October 20, 2013 at the Meralco Theater with shows at 8 pm on Fridays, 3 pm and 8 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Ticket inquiries can be coursed through 901-4364, 891-9999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph.