Saturday, November 29, 2014

Review of Tanghalang Ateneo's RITE OF PASSAGE: "Equus" with Chickens

November 30, 2014

Isoy was left in the care of his strict and grumpy spinster aunt Susing, who made him drop from school and kept him at home doing chores like cooking or minding her chickens. He is at the awkward age of 15, and would rather spend his time peeking at their girl neighbor as she took a bath, or going to the cockpit with his favorite uncle Berning. Once at a drinking spree with the men, Isoy bares his inner turmoil and frustration about his aunt. This results in revelations about Isoy's errant mother who abandoned him and the father he never knew.

"Rite of Passage: Sa Pagtubu kang Tahud" was adapted by Glenn Sevilla Mas from a Kinaray-a short story by Maria Milagros Geremia Lachica. This production by the Tanghalang Ateneo, the second in their current season with the theme of "Navigating Identities," is directed by respected theater playwright, actor and translator Ron Capinding. The set by Gwyn Guanzon has transformed the front of the classroom-like Rizal Mini-Theater into a realistic nipa hut with a "batalan," shower stall and real soil around it. The effective lighting design by D Cortezano enhances the stifling tension of the story.

The script is basically in English with a heavy Visayan accent. There was also a good dose of Kinaray-a (or the dialect in Antique, where the play is set) which most of us do not understand but we could just make an intelligent guess as to what they mean based on the gestures of the actors. Some Tagalog also makes it in there, but not as much. The script is heavy with intense confrontations. There are several uncomfortable situations of a sexual nature, so that this is only for mature audiences. It is reminiscent of Mas' other coming-of-age play "Games People Play."

The central character Isoy is played by college freshman Cholo Ledesma. He had that awkward height and stance that served his portrayal of his disturbed character very well. His highlight should be that sick climactic scene which felt like "Equus" to me, only it involved a chicken instead of a horse. Now how sound guy Jethro Joaquin knew what sound effect to accompany that scene, I'd rather not know.

Despite the fact that Ledesma was onstage for practically the entire play, the more memorable performances come from the supporting adult cast. Veteran actress Frances Makil-Ignacio plays the always glum and negative Tiyay Susing. She may have seemed one-note in Act 1, but it turns out she was just warming up. In Act 2, her character simply exploded with all her pent-up bitter emotion all those years, and Ms. Makil-Ignacio truly displayed radiant bravura acting.

I had to ask an usher who that awesome actor was who played the consenting Uncle Berning. His face and complexion does not really look like he's from a remote barrio, but his natural acting more than made up for the physical disconnect. It turns out that Tiyoy Berning today was played by the director himself! I confess, I knew the name Ron Capinding, but I did not know how he looked like till today. I thought his role ran the gamut of emotions and Mr. Capinding more than effectively pulled it off. (The usual actor portraying this role is Teroy Guzman, a local Shakespearean actor whom I have seen play King Lear in PETA before. His take on this character should be interesting to see as well.)

Honestly, the play is not exactly easy or pleasant to watch. However, the ideas and questions it proposed are thought-provoking and controversial. The metaphors implied within the story and the set well-crafted and well-executed -- the circumcision, the cockfight, the bamboo fences at the end. Isoy's climactic scene with the chicken is sensational in the most disconcerting, upsetting, and disgusting sense. But what a brutal metaphor that was -- the ultimate flip-off! 

Kudos to director Ron Capinding and the rest of the cast and crew of Tanghalang Ateneo for daring to stage a sensitive and challenging play like this.

"Rite of Passage" runs November 27-29, December 3-6 and 10-13, 2014. Show starts promptly at 7 pm. Saturday matinees start at 2 pm.  All performances will be held at the Rizal Mini Theater of the Ateneo de Manila University. For details about the show and tickets, contact Acel Go at 09164802195. Tickets at P300 each only.

Review of Ballet Phils' CINDERELLA: Fun and Exuberant!

November 29, 2014

We are all familiar with the story of Cinderella from the classic 1950 Disney full length animated film. We know her Wicked Stepmother and Stepsisters who maltreated her. We know her Fairy Godmother who magically helped her get to the Ball. We know about the Prince and his kingdom-wide search for the owner of glass slipper the mystery lady who ran off at midnight left behind. We can see all this and more in the latest offering of Ballet Philippines this holiday season, Cinderella as choreographed by National Artist for Dance, Alice Reyes, who was present last night.

Instead of the traditional Prokofiev score, Ms. Reyes used various pieces by Tchaikovsky to create the perfect musical score for the ballet she had in mind. She added various original elements, like the dance of animals in the garden and the two mischievous brothers of the prince, to lighten the mood for her target audience, the children.

This is already the fifth staging of this original Alice Reyes ballet since she premiered it first in 1981. The restagers this time around are BP Dance School Director and Ballet Master Victor Ursabia and Ballet Master Ramon Victoria.

The sets and costumes were originally designed by Salvador Bernal, himself a National Artist for Theater Design. The palace set was so opulent and grandiose with meticulous details, enhancing the elegance and vibrancy of the dances performed.

Cinderella was played by a young, upcoming soloist Denise Parungao. She has such a pretty smile and and kind face, perfect for her lead role. Her very slim and lithe physique gives her a very light feeling when she dances, even as she performs difficult moves. (Monica Amanda Gana alternates in this role.)

The most elegant dancer on that stage last night was the regal Rita Angela Winder who portrayed Fairy Godmother, certainly younger and more beautiful than the one we know from the Disney cartoon. Her stage presence is riveting, always drawing audience attention to her dignified stance. (Katherine Trofeo alternates in this role.)

The male characters play second fiddle to their female counterparts in this program as they mainly play consorts and dance partners. Even the Prince had to dance in groups of  multiple dancers during Act 1. Richardson Yadao is a Principal Dancer of BP but he seemed to lack the regal stature and presence to be the Prince. There were some male members of the company (was that JM Cordero?) looked more "princely" than him, sad to say. He did show why he earned his rank in the company when he danced his solo spots with excellent flourish in Act III. (Earl John Arisola alternates in this role.)

However, definitely the most memorable characters for the audience in this show are the Wicked Stepmother Brunhilda and the comic Stepsisters Griselda and Prunella. 

Last night, Brunhilda was played by Isabelle Garachon, the wife of the French Ambassador, who was a professional dancer back when she was younger. Her face was made up to look scary and stern, but she had a natural sense of humor with her facial expressions. Her moves seemed more flamenco-inspired than ballet, very graceful. BP President Margie Moran-Floriendo will alternate in this role, I am very curious on how she would pull it off. There is a third alternate, Butch Esperanza, a guy -- now that might be fun!

The role of the two step-sisters are probably the most demanding of the whole cast. They had to do physical slapstick comedy in balletic style. That is as difficult as it sounds, but it had to look like they were having a lot of fun doing it. Dancing the clumsy and heavy-footed pair last night were Ma. Celina Dofitas (as Griselda) and BP Principal Dancer Katherine Trofeo (as Prunella). They were a riot with the kids and kids at heart in the audience. People were actually laughing out loud at their antics, as unseeming as it may be at a ballet. (Edana Mae Labitoria alternates as Griselda. Rita Angela Winder alternates as Prunella -- now that is something to watch out for!)

I am not really a ballet connoisseur by any measure, but judging this as a casual viewer, this is one full-length ballet my daughter and I truly enjoyed watching. The humorous elements Ms. Reyes added into her choreography really enhanced the enjoyment of the show. I would say that the degree of difficulty of the dancing was heightened because of the sense of comedy it had to project to the audience in the form of dance. This show proved that ballet can indeed be fun to watch!

Here is the cast schedule of performances released by Ballet Philippines:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Review of TP's PRINSIPE MUNTI: Seeing What's Really Important

November 28, 2014

"The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is a famous and well-loved book. I know I have read it sometime in my ancient past, but I honestly do not remember what is was about at all. Tanghalang Pilipino currently has a Filipino-language play adapted from the beloved novel by prolific playwright Ms. Layeta Bucoy. I brought my daughter to watch with me because she just had a Filipino book report about this same novel.

In this play, Principe Munti is the ruler of a small planet with three volcanos, only two of which are active. It also has only one Rose which the Prince loved. She is of a rare beauty and fragrance, but of a rather self-centered and petulant sort. When his relationship with his Rose sours, the Prince decides to leave his planet to explore other worlds. He goes off from planet to planet, where he meets extreme sorts of people -- a President who always wanted to order others around, an Actress who always wanted people to admire her, a Drunkard, and a numbers-obsessed Businesswoman. 

His journey brought him on Earth. There he befriends an Alamid (or Civet) who teaches him a vital lesson of seeing the most important things with his heart, not with his eye. Finally, he finds himself in a desert where he meets a Pilot whose plane crashed there. Before he leave to reunite with his Rose however, the Prince gets to impart to the Pilot the valuable lessons he had learned so far.

The conduct of the play was rather dark and contemplative, in contrast with most productions meant for children which were bright and cheery. The use of shadow puppetry by Teta Tulay (and the Anino Shadowplay Collective) to enhance the storytelling was the novelty here. The lighting effects by John Batalla was essential in delivering the dramatic interaction of live performances with the shadowplay behind the screens. The original music and songs of Toni Munoz was sparse in keeping with the play's style, but very effective in building up mood. 

The script by Layeta Bucoy was lyrical and somber in tone like the spirit of the book, but rather uneven. I do not remember the book anymore so the progress of the story felt totally new to me, which was good. There were points when the dry humor could be lost on younger members of the audience. Adults and older kids may find more fulfillment watching this show than very young kids. There were points in the middle when the story would bog down, only dependent on the vitality of the actors to enliven the scenes. 

The talented child actor Micko Laurente, all of 9 years old, was on stage the whole time and had to carry the show on his shoulders. This was a formidable role with lengthy lines of dialogue but Laurente pulled it off very well. His character is mostly reactive to the people he meets, so his performance was somehow affected by the performance of the actor with whom he is interacting. (Another child actor Allen Immanuel Ryce alternates in this role.)

Regina de Vera was a true vision of beauty as the Prince's Rose. Her pettiness though became tiresome and repetitive. Those encounters in the four planets with the strange adults went a bit too long for comfort and only mildly funny for the most part. There was a scene with another Rose on Earth that was so dreary and forgettable. The Prince's encounter with a train seemed unnecessarily long and pointless as well. Llorvie Nuevo's performance as the Snake was properly sinister,

However, it was Jonathan Tadioan who really hit it out of the park with his vibrant performance of the Alamid. This was the peak point of the whole show in its effective evocation of true joy and inspiration within his few minutes on stage with the Prince. Marco Viana was also very good as the Pilot. He has very effective chemistry with the Prince which is important to build up to the emotionally-shattering climax. I would say that these last 30 minutes or so contain the very beautiful heart and soul of the whole play, and most worthy of the ticket price paid.

Congratulations to the Director Tuxqs Rutaquio and the rest of the Tanghalang Pilipino cast and crew for creating another innovative and interesting play to develop the love of theater for Filipino children.

"Prinsipe Munti" runs from November 28 - December 7, 2014 with shows at 10 am, 2 pm ad 6 pm at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater). Tickets (P600, P800 and P1,000) are available through Tanghalang Pilipino (832-1125 loc 1620/1621 or 09052544930) or Ticketworld (891-9999 /

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Recap of THEATER AT SOLAIRE LAUNCH: Sophisticated Acoustics!

November 26, 2014

I have not been to the Solaire complex before today. First of all, I am not really a casino-goer. When they had concerts at their ballroom, like the Jacksons just earlier this month, the schedule did not fit mine. But today, I was invited to attend the inauguration of a facility which would make me return to Solaire time and time again. This was the Theater at Solaire.

The theater had a spacious and elegant lobby. There were 1,760 seats inside. Its main conceit is its usage of the Constellation Acoustic System, which enables the acoustic properties of the theater fit that of the event being held, all with just a touch of a finger. Theater at Solaire is first and only theater venue with this sophisticated sound system, and only the third such theater in the whole of Asia.

The guests were mostly dressed to the nines as the posh venue seemed to demand. There was a sumptuous buffet cocktail served along the corridor which included roast beef (rare!) and salmon among others. A particularly exciting souvenir given to the guests was a Solaire Swatch Watch, a limited edition made specifically to commemorate this special milestone.

The time in the ticket says 8 pm but the show began about 8:30 already with the assumption on the stage of Mr. Thomas Arasi (President and COO of Solaire), followed by Mr. Jasper Evangelista (VP for Brand and Marketing), with their respective opening remarks. Important people behind the theater were introduced. These were: Ed Concepcion (Theater Manager), Shax Siasoco (Venue Technical Director) and Sandy Hontiveros (Talent Center Manager). Finally, veteran stage performer Mr. Audie Gemora was introduced as Solaire's Director for Entertainment.

Mr. Gemora opened the show with his revue on how to put on a stage presentation, from a blank stage to the sets, costumes, screen backdrop, etc. until the show is ready, all set to the tune of "Putting It Together". Ironically, there were sound glitches in this first number where some lapel mics would lose sound. Not to worry though, these glitches would not happen again in the rest of the show.

Gerard Salonga appeared on screen talking about the theater and its special sound system. He came out on stage to demo the equipment with musician Robert de Pano and his trumpet. You can clearly hear the difference of sound quality with the Constellation on and off. After his short talk, Salonga went back to lead the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra in a Classical Suite. 

The three leading sopranos rendered solos, Karla Gutierrez, Myramae Meneses and Camille Lopez-Molina. Ervin Lumauag provided tenor counterpoint in certain songs, as other members of the Philippine Opera Company joined in others. The big highlight of this suite is the appearance of prima ballerina, Ms. Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and some male consorts from Ballet Manila. She danced a challenging number from "Sleeping Beauty" with her faultless pirouettes.

Maestro Ryan Cayabyab appeared on the big screen to talk about the multi-purpose rehearsal studio located backstage. He would segue to introduce the next suite about Filipino musicals. Robert Sena and the Ryan Cayabyab Singers (including Poppert Bernadas) would sing a song from "Stageshow." Karylle sang a song from "Rama Hari". Myke Salomon sang "Magsimula Ka" from the musical of the same title. Isay Alvarez sang a uptempo boogie number from "Katy!" Aicelle Santos sang "Basang-basa sa Ulan" from the mega-hit "Rak of Aegis". She would be joined by Sena and Salomon for "Halik." Finally, Ms. Isay came back onstage to sing "Minsan ang Minahal Mo ay Ako", later joined in by the others, to end this suite.

Ms. Solaire and Ms. Philippines-World Valerie Weigmann appeared on the big screen to talk about the dressing rooms and the other events which could be held in the theater. Sam Concepcion came out to sing Pharell's "Happy". He would be joined by a number of Solaire models. This segment would showcase different kinds of dancing. First up was Ednah Ledesma and two male partners for a ballroom exhibition. Regine Tolentino was fiery and fabulous in her dance number with the 38 Degrees, who lifted, flipped and threw her around. The Manoeuvres had an interesting dance number with only the LED lights on their costume visible in the total darkness. 

Mitch Valdez was the next person who introduced the next act on screen, the OPM Suite. Morissette, Christian Bautista and Yeng Constantino all had their solo spots, which were well and good. However, it was when they got together to sing "Sana'y Wala ng Wakas" that their set was elevated to different level. Their harmonizing sounded so very good indeed. 

Martin Nievera came out to sing his solo spot with the song "Kahit Isang Saglit." He then sang a little bit of "Music of the Night" (from "Phantom of the Opera") to introduce the final performer of the night.

Lea Salonga was on fire as she sang for ten minutes or so straight, with a medley of punishing Broadway songs that only she can sing so flawlessly well -- "Memory", "I Dream a Dream", "On My Own", "For Good" and to cap it all off "Defying Gravity". Words cannot adequately describe the power and the passion in her renditions of these iconic songs. You really have to watch the video below from beginning to end to know what I mean!

Audie Gemora came back on stage to reminisce with Lea about the last time they were on stage together, which was when Lea was only 9 years old. Then they led off to sing the Solaire song "Brighter Than the Sun". Everyone else in the cast of performers later joined in as well. The end of the rousing song was greeted by a merry rain of confetti, and this special night was over. 

The top-notch production staff behind this show is a Who's Who of current Philippine Theater. The director is Dexter Santos. The writer is Floy Quintos. Production design is by Mio Infante. Lighting design is by John Batalla. The impressive graphic designs were by GA Fallarme. Kudos to all for a great show!

Postscript: There was a bit of a problem for guests on their way out as there is no elevator or escalator going upstairs back to the theater lobby! Everyone had to climb up the steep high escalator or the regular stairs (three flights up!), even the ladies in their high heels (including Ms. Annabelle Rama, who was there with husband, Eddie Gutierrez). I am pretty sure though that the Solaire management will have this problem figured out in time for the big maiden presentation of this theater -- the international touring production of CHICAGO to run by the first week of December.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review of WALLY WATTHEAD and his LOST GLOW: Fun Magical Kids Show

November 16, 2014

Admittedly I was not really too excited to see this show at first. The strange image of Wally Watthead in the poster is not really too enticing on initial glance. I was also not sure how a comedy act from Finland would be able to make us laugh. However, when opportunity came up that allowed me to bring my whole family along to watch, I grabbed it wholeheartedly. 

Wally Watthead (Janne Raudaskoski) is the lightbulb of a lamp. One day, his light starts to sputter then died out. Wally desperately asks his friend Simon the Sim Card (voiced by Jonathan Hutchins) for help to regain his light. While he was doing everything Simon says to get his light back, Wally was also trying to win the attention of the object of his affections, the pretty Polly the Picture (Tuija Nuojua), who mysteriously came to life!

In the beginning, the show started slow, and yes, rather corny.  I can understand the giant lightbulb head piece Wally had to wear. However, I could not fathom why he needed to have those ugly huge hairy ears!  I would call his act a "semi-mime" because while Wally was miming most of the time, he would also utter some stray word or make some strange sounds while he was fooling around on stage. This style needed some time to get used to.

However, as the performance went on and the acts of magic began though, we were all charmed and drawn in, with a constant smile on our faces. Interacting with the cellphone mascot Simon (reminiscent of a Nokia 3210, so loyally Finnish!) on his right and video picture Polly on his left, Wally would perform amazing feats of sleight of hand with cards, flowers, confetti, and bubbles, among other common magic props. 

While there were times when it felt like an expanded magic act for a birthday party, there were those tricks which were truly mystifying. He had a part where it seemed he was levitating. I personally found that segment where he was trying to attach his "battery" most baffling. Those romantic interludes of Wally and Polly to the tune of "Love Story" were cute as they were fascinating to watch.

The best part of the show is actually observing how the kids all around us were absolutely enjoying themselves. When we watched, the PETA Theater was full of kids of all ages. Many of them were elementary students from public schools sponsored by a generous grant. Hearing all these kids gasping in amazement and laughing with glee is so heartwarming. My own kids are past 10 years old already and can easily be bored by regular plays, but here, they were in rapt attention. Wally's unique combination of magic and comedy worked on target audience!

This was indeed an unexpected treat for the kids and the whole family. Don't let that odd-looking ape-like creature with the bulbous cranium you see on the posters put you off. This is such a fun show for kids and kids at heart -- short (only 45-minute long) but sweet, engaging, spellbinding and happy.


"Wally Watthead and his Lost Glow" will run for one more weekend from November 21-23, with shows at 10 am and 3 pm at the PETA Theater in Quezon City. Tickets are Php 800 for VIP and Php 600 for regular seats. For tickets, contact Ticketworld at 891-9999 or For more details, call PETA Theater Center at 725-6244, local 21-23 or 0915-4933728.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Recap of DISNEY IN CONCERT: TALE AS OLD AS TIME: Reliving Our Childhood Thru Music

November 9, 2014


We all grew up on Disney films. From the first Mickey Mouse shorts in the 1930s, to its first full-length film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," (1937), followed by "Pinocchio," "Cinderella," "Sleeping Beauty", etc... Disney films were a child's fantasy world come alive. After a slump in the 1970s and most of the 1980s, Disney experienced a great resurgence in its popularity in 1989 with "The Little Mermaid". This popularity continues up to the present with its latest hit, "Big Hero 6". 

The musical soundtrack of Disney films are just as special. These are among the first songs we learn as kids. Songs from Disney films are also staples in the Best Original Song category in the Oscars, as nominees and as winners. 12 Disney songs have won the Academy Award: from "When You Wish Upon a Star" (Pinocchio, 1940) to " Let It Go" (Frozen, 2013). 

In the 90s, songs from Disney films began hitting on the pop charts as well.  In 1993, "A Whole New World" became the first song from a Disney film to hit Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Beauty and the Beast" (#9, 1992), "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (#4, 1994), "Circle of Life" (#18, 1994), "Colors of the Wind" (#4, 1995), "Someday" (#30, 1996), "Go the Distance" (#27, 1997) and "You'll Be in My Heart" (#21, 1999) all had pop versions that reached the Top 40 as well. "Let It Go" (2013) had BOTH its pop version by Demi Lovato (#38) and its original version by Idina Menzel (#5) reaching the Top 40.

This list does not even include songs from live action Disney films. Number 1 song "All for One" by Bryan Adams/Rod Stewart/Sting is from "Three Musketeers" (1994). Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" (#6, 2004) is from "Princess Diaries 2". Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" (#4, 2009) is from "Hannah Montana: The Movie". Trivia: Before all this, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" by Julie Andrews and DickVan Dyke from "Mary Poppins" actually reached No. 66 on the Hot 100 in 1965.


There were two dates for this special concert on Disney music, Nov. 8 and Nov. 9. My kids and I watched the second show on Nov. 9 which was set at 2 pm in the CCP Main Theater. The show started promptly at 2 pm, even when the seats in the orchestra around us were not yet filled up. 

The ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra played the National Anthem live onstage, which was already quite a thrill in itself. Then conductor Gerard Salonga made his entrance and proceeded to conduct the orchestra through an overture of beloved Disney tunes. At the same time, we were watching a perfectly edited, high definition video montage from the original animated films (like "Peter Pan," "Lady and the Tramp," "Alice in Wonderland," and "Fantasia") playing on the screen behind them. 

The first singer introduced was Caisa Borromeo who led us through the songs from the Rapunzel-inspired film "Tangled." She would be joined by Sam Concepcion, Red Concepcion and a singing group called Vocal Synergy through songs like "When Will My Life Begin", "I've Got a Dream" and the love ballad "I See the Light."

Morissette (it seems she has dropped her surname Amon from her stage name) came out in a red gown and sang a beautiful pop (ala Christina Aguilera) version of "Reflection" from "Mulan". Her voice was really something else -- solid and oh so clear. This would only be the first of so many memorable songs from her today. I knew she would go far when I first heard her sing in "Camp Rock the Musical" and then during her stint on "The Voice".

The next singer up was Antonio Ferrer, and man, he came up with a big revelatory performance I totally did not expect. I knew him as a classical tenor from serious musical plays like "Noli Me Tangere: the Opera" and "Walang Sugat". But there he was matching Robin Williams' very animated multi-inflection rendition of "Friend Like Me" from "Aladdin"! This would be only the first surprise of many more he had in store for us.

Next up was a Villains Medley to pay tribute to the more memorable baddies in Disney lore. There were three songs in this segment. First was "Trust in Me" which was python Kaa's song from "The Jungle Book" sung for us by Sam Concepcion. Next was a spectacular version of Sea Witch Ursula's "Poor Unfortunate Souls" by the always smashing Carla Guevara-Laforteza. Finally, it was Scar's menacing "Be Prepared" from "The Lion King" by Antonio Ferrer. Again this low growling baritone was the last thing I expected from him, and this he nailed it up to the evil laugh after the song.

The next segment was a showing of the classic Disney short cartoon entitled "The Band Concert". This short released in 1935 was the first Mickey Mouse film produced in color. The music of this short was Rossini's "The William Tell Overture" and it was played live by the ABS-CBN Orchestra in perfect consonance with the film as its soundtrack.

The final number in Act 1 was a Gospel medley by the Muses from the film "Hercules". The Muses were composed by Caisa Borromeo and Carla Laforteza, who were very good. But a lot of attention was being drawn by the third Muse, EJ Pepito of Vocal Synergy. This girl can wail like the best of them! How good that she was given this golden opportunity to showcase her voice solo. I was not too familiar with the songs like "Zero to Hero" and "A Star is Born", but the girls' amazing singing and harmonizing carried the day.

Act II opened with songs from "The Princess and the Frog." Honestly I was not too familiar with the Creole-flavored Randy Newman songs here "Down in New Orleans" and "Almost There".  I was pleasantly surprised to see Karylle there as Tiana, since she was not in the first act. Sam Concepcion sang the parts of Prince Naveen. But again the thunder was stolen by Antonio Ferrer with his gleefully evil rendition of the sinister "Friends on the Other Side," which incidentally the only song I remember from the film.

The next medley would be love songs entitled "They Finally Meet". The first was "Kiss the Girl" sung by Red Concepcion with Sebastian's calypso flair. The pop version of "Beauty and the Beast" was next sung by Morissette and Sam Concepcion. This pair can really run perfectly with their multiple runs ala Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson. The final duet was "So This is Love" (from "Cinderella") sung by Karylle and Antonio Ferrer. Now this is the tenor voice I know Antonio for. 

Next up was an instrumental interlude entitled "Battle with the Forces of Evil". While the screen was showing us the climactic battle of Prince Phillip and Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty," the ABS-CBN Orchestra regaled us with their rendition of the soundtrack score adapted from Tchaikovsky no less. Watching those memorable scenes unfold with the accompanying music being played live by a full orchestra was really something else.

Finally, it is time for the very popular "Frozen". Adorable 4-year old Julia Concio (grand-daughter of ABS-CBN boss Ms. Charo Santos-Concio!) sang the first verse of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?". The audience supportively clapped as she entered, and again after she sang. Then 11-year old Camille Santos came in to sing the second verse. Another young singer named Jillian Ita-as sang "For the First Time in Forever." 

Red Concepcion came in to sing Olaf's song "In Summer." However, there was no doubt that everyone was waiting for "Let It Go" and it was Morissette who delivered it. If it was not too blasphemous to say she out-sang Idina Menzel herself, I'd say it.  That was positively the BEST LIVE rendition of this ubiquitous and iconic song I have ever heard. Morissette's version was so effortless, flawless and vibrant!

The rest of the cast of singers came out to sing another verse and chorus of "Let It Go" as they did their curtain call and bade their goodbyes. Morissette, Sam Concepcion and Antonio Ferrer drew the loudest applause. (Honestly, I was half expecting the Philippines' own Disney princess Ms. Lea Salonga herself to come out and surprise us with "A Whole New World" but that did not happen. Haha!) 

Then, Gerard Salonga stepped down from his dais to address the audience. He told us how this show was a new package program set by Disney itself. Salonga and his director Mickey Munoz had to convince the Disney execs to allow local singers to sing the songs, which were fortunately allowed. They then proceeded to hold an online audition for participants. 

Also allowed was to change the gender of the singer who will sing the encore song. Originally it was supposed to have been sung by a male singer, but Salonga wanted, and got Ms. Bituin Escalante to sing it. The song was "Circle of Life" from "The Lion King." The choice was inspired. Ms Escalante brought the house down as she always did. 

My kids and the younger kids around us all enjoyed the songs from the more recent films. The older members of the audience were already very high on nostalgia. Kudos to Munoz, Salonga and everyone else who worked on the production of this special show. Undoubtedly, the Filipino talent for music is really world-class!

********  UPDATE: NOVEMBER 19, 2016

This show "Disney in Concert: Tale as Old as Time" was re-staged tonight at the KIA Theater in Cubao, Quezon City, and will have a second show tomorrow afternoon at 3 pm. 

It was generally the same show, with the same set of original Disney music rendered for us by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Gerard Salonga. Stage direction was again by Mickey Munoz. Of the original cast recounted above singing the same songs, namely Morissette, Carla Laforteza and Arman Ferrer were still present, as well as Bituin Escalante for the encore. 

Theater actor Jef Flores took over songs like "I Got a Dream," "Trust in Me" and "Kiss the Girl." "The Voice" finalist Timmy Pavino took over Sam Concepcion's roles as Flynn and Naveen, as well as "Beauty and the Beast" and "In Summer." Stage diva Tanya Manalang took over Karylle's songs, particularly killing her Tiana solo "Almost There." Teenage superstar Janella Salvador took over Caisa Borromeo's Rapunzel songs, as well as Anna's "For the First Time in Forever," which was her best song of the show.

Janella Salvador 
looked and sounded like a true Disney princess 

For a change, in addition to "A Friend Like Me" in the first act, there were two more songs under the theme of sidekick characters. Lumiere's "Be Our Guest" was rendered by Jef Flores, while Sebastian's "Under the Sea" was sung by Pavino. Meanwhile, the instrumental number of "The Band Concert" was scrapped. 

The same crisp high-definition video showed the classic Disney film scenes in spectacular color and detail. I still wished there were lyrics on that screen for those of us simply itching to sing along with the amazing performers onstage. Anyhow, the same smile was on my face the whole time. This show is guaranteed to imbue its audience with a warm happy feeling.  It did for me two years ago, and it did again last night.