Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review of VIRGIN LABFEST X - SET B: Three Thought-Provoking Comedies!

June 26, 2014

I have heard about the Virgin Labfest before, but I have never yet watched any of its past nine incarnations.  This year, some time opened up for me this afternoon so I was able to go to the CCP and try my luck to get a ticket.  Good thing I was lucky enough to finally get to watch this much-awaited event in local theater.  

This festival is all about giving the playwrights, both veteran and new, an opportunity to showcase their newest unstaged works. This year's 12 entries were selected from 160+ plays submitted.  That statistic alone says so much about the quality of the plays.

The 12 selected plays were divided into four sets of three.  For each ticket you buy, you get to watch three one-act plays staged in the intimate Tanghalang Huseng Batute.  For today, the scheduled set to be staged was Stage B. I watched these plays without knowing what they were about and who would be acting in them. I was very pleasantly surprised how thought-provoking everything was this afternoon.


Written by Dingdong Novenario.  
Directed by Joshua Lim So

Wendy (Delphine Buencamino) is a driven and ambitious employee in an IT company.  One day after eight years, she submits her resignation to her supervisor Mark (Topper Fabregas).  Her reason:  she wants to be a housewife. Mark finds her decision strange and unacceptable since she does not even have a husband or even a potential husband yet.  

This play only has two characters so it was essential that the two actors had chemistry with each other.  Buencamino was an energetic delight as Wendy.  You totally feel her feeling of stagnation in her present occupation which she feels is hampering her social life.  Fabregas had the more difficult role of reacting to the various odd declarations of Wendy.  He had to switch from "Boss" hat to "Friend" hat several times during the run of the play.  They succeeded in developing the essential sexual tension that the script required in order for it to work.  

The script by Novenario fully reveals his background in the IT industry in real life with all the jargon interspersed in there.  He was able to capture the female point of view quite well.  The script is funny and smart, and to the point.  


Written by Raymund Reyes 
Directed by Dennis Marasigan
Intoy suddenly suffers a stroke and needs P300,000 for brain surgery to drain the hemorrhage.  Being an ice cream seller who was just recently laid off from work, they do not have the money for this. Intoy's wife Felisa seeks the help of Intoy's three elder siblings, Guido, Doreen and Ate Linda. As Intoy lies critically in the ICU, his three siblings end up squabbling over past family issues instead of coming up with the cash.

At first, this play did not seem so promising because of the rather common and morose initial premise, as well the unfamiliar actors. However, as the play progressed, especially with the entry of Bong Cabrera as loud-mouthed Guido, the play's hilarious over-the-top nature revealed itself.  The entry of Dolly de Leon as the flamboyant loan shark eldest sister Linda further upped the comedy scale even more.  

Because of my background, I enjoyed the medical aspects of the play and how lay people misinterpret what the doctors tell them, and the common beliefs about strokes and aneurysms. Those absurd medical hypotheses on how the stroke probably happened certainly kept me in stitches.  Reyes also found a trove of rib-tickling comedy from the many sub-issues this play tackles, like public school teachers, drinking sessions of men, the nouveau riche, marrying older foreigners, etc.  


Written by Carlo Vergara
Directed by Marlon Rivera

In the year 2045, the Philippines had already won four of the big five beauty titles, with only the Miss Universal Empress title left.  Ms. Philippines Candy Coron (Hannah dela Guerra) will compete to win that last title and has a big chance to complete a grand slam. Backstage, Candy's trainer Greg Rodrigo (Rem Zamora) and the head of the Philippine delegation, Ms. Sylvia Dayrit (Noemi Manikan-Gomez) discuss an ancient Spanish-era prophecy that seems to predict Candy's win and the world peace which would ensue.  However, there is a dire consequence.

The beauty pageant setting, especially the Q&A portion, is automatically entertaining for the Pinoy audience.  Ms.  dela Guerra with her flawless face, figure and long legs, plays a perfect Ms. Philippines beauty queen.  I do hope we see her more in future plays.  It was a great surprise to see Rep and Red Turnip actor Zamora so effortlessly essay the role of her mentor in the pageant biz on the Labfest stage.  He fit the role like a glove.  Ms. Manikan-Gomez was also so well-cast, so credible as an aging beauty queen who was so delightful in her self-confessed gullibility.

Vergara first entered Pinoy pop consciousness as the creator of Zsazsa Zaturnnah.  Last year, he had his first Labfest entry, "Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady," which had been selected as one of the three VL IX plays to be re-staged in Set E this year.  After super-heroines, he turned to another favorite gay icon -- the beauty queen.  I must admit that I found the prophecy angle was a little too far-out and the ending had me scratching my head in puzzlement.  But that is the important thing there, that these plays challenge their audiences to think for themselves.


These Set B plays will be shown again on July 5 (8 pm) and July 6 (3 pm).

Tickets are at P300 each.  I am not sure if there are still festival passes on sale.  Call 832-3704 or 891-9999 for tickets.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Recapping GAME OF THRONES Season 4

June 17, 2014

S04E01: "Two Swords"

After all these months of waiting, we are all so excited to watch this initial episode of this new season. Nothing really big happens yet as this episode tells about the frustrating events that occur after Stannis defeat at Blackwater and Rob Stark's death at the Red Wedding. Of course, as in past episodes, there there is violence, wry humor and frontal nudity.

Tyrion Lannister frustrated as his child bride Sansa avoids him, and his ex-lover Shae tries to seduce him. Jamie Lannister frustrated as he was rebuffed by Cersei and insulted by Joffrey. Cersei Lannister is frustrated because she is about to marry a "pillow biter". 

Danaerys frustrated by the mummies that line the road to her destination, Meereen. Jon Snow is frustrated by the his meeting with the Night Watch elders. Margaery Tyrell and Lady Olenna are frustrated by the poor quality of Kings Landing jewelry. Arya Stark is frustrated because she does not have a horse of her own.

We meet Oberyn, a prince with an axe to grind against the Lannisters. an He is an interesting new character as we expect him to give the people of Kings Landing a hard time this season. We meet a new group of Wildlings who actually threaten Ygritte and her group. 

We meet a new actor who plays Daario. Strange they did not at least give him the same hairstyle as the previous Daario. We are frustrated by his lame attempts at romance with Danaerys. Wildflowers, really? Haha! (3/5)

S04E02: "The Lion and the Rose" 

This episode will again go down in the GoT annals as one of the most shocking endings this show had ever had. You really have to see it to believe it because it came from out of nowhere. And this time it happens in only the SECOND episode of the season. After we see that ending, the other earlier events in the episode suddenly become forgettable. 

We get to meet again the insidiously insane bastard Ramsay Snow and how he had "tamed" Theon Greyjoy, now a pitiful creature called Reek. We see Bran Stark and more of his bizarre visions. We see Melissandre insinuating herself more into Stannis' whole family with her "Lord of Light" fanaticism.

But this episode is mostly about the Royal Wedding between King Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell. We will witness extreme degrees of cruelty and humiliation and underhandedness during the "festivities". The totally unexpected way the feast ends will leave you flabbergasted. What this event implies will definitely make you want to watch the rest of the season. Ingenious plotting indeed! (5/5)

S04E03: "Breaker of Chains" 

There were many events that were tackled in this episode. We are updated about Arya and the Hound, about Stannis and Daavos, about Sam and Gilly, about Oberyn and Ellaria, about Sansa and Ser Dontos. We finally get to see Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish and learn of his big role in recent events. 

We see Tyrion in chains awaiting trial, and Podrick professing his loyalty. We see the Lannister patriarch Tywin teach the incoming regent Tommen about kingly leadership. We see the wildness of the Wildlings and the cannibalistic terror they sow. We see Danaerys reach the city of Mereen, and Daario stepping up as her champion.

However, this episode will be most remembered for one particularly unexpected scene of sexual violence. We have been witnessing Jamie Lannister seemingly on his way to heroic reform. In this episode, going way out of his character's arc, Jamie had a rough "encounter" with his sister Cersei. Was this rape? Or was it consensual? I guess we will all have to wait for the coming episodes to know the answer. (2/5)

S04E04: "The Oathkeeper"

Danaerys liberates the slaves from the city of Mereen, and metes crucifixion justice on their harsh masters. Lady Olenna's sneaky talents are revealed, in murders, as well as ensnaring a husband. Margaery Tyrell pays a secret night visit to her pre-teen future husband. Sansa Stark surprisingly able to stand her own against the slimy Littlefinger, for now at least.

Jamie Lannister seems to be back to his good boy mode. He pays a visit to Tyrion in prison. He sends Brienne off to her quest with his sword, which she names "The Oathkeeper." Cersei is as bitchy to him as ever. I guess that was not rape we saw last week since it was never mentioned again.

Jon Snow meets a new friend Locke. This guy has worked for Roose Bolton and was the one who cut off Jamie's hand. Wonder where his association with Jon will lead?

A big part of the episode dealt with those rowdy mutineers from the Night Watch. They rape Craster's daughters. They capture Bran Stark and his posse. They leave the last Craster infant son out in the snow for the White Walkers.

For two episodes now, things had been a relatively slow and quiet. There had been more talk than action. They better get something going already as the excited viewers can get bored. Too bad there was no update on Arya and the Hound. There should not be an episode without the ever-sharp Tywin Lannister like this one. Can't wait for Tyrion's trial to start already. (2/5)

S04E05: "First of His Name"

Tommen Baratheon gets crowned as the new king, while his mother Cersei and future bride (?) Margaery Tyrell chat with dripping sarcasm. Danaerys decides to be a Queen in Slaver's Bay. Arya gets whupped by the Hound for her fancy but impractical swordplay. Podrick can't cook nor fight, but Brienne seemed impressed with his loyalty. Cersei talks to Oberyn about her daughter.

When Littlefinger brings Sansa to the Vale of Arryn, we see the creepy regent Lysa again, but good thing her pre-teen son Robin was not breastfeeding on her this time. We learn just how deeply Littlefinger skillfully managed to murder not only one king, but two (and maybe more). We also learn that poor Sansa is bound to be locked into yet another doomed marriage.

Back at Craster's Keep, Meera narrowly escapes being raped by Tanner when the Night Watch comes in for the rescue. Brandon was able to escape from the clutches of Locke by using his powers to possess Hodor, but decides to go on with their own weird quest instead of reuniting with Jon Snow. But Jon does get reunited with his precious dire wolf Ghost. 

No Tyrion, No Jamie. No dragons, Tywin and Oberyn in disappointingly subdued scenes. Best revelatory scenes tonight were those at the Vale, but that Lysa is really a weirdo of the highest order. (3/5)

S04E06: "The Laws of Gods and Men"

Loyal Ser Davos manages to convince the condescending men of the Iron Bank to fund the campaign of Stannis Baratheon for the Iron Throne. Daenerys gets to flex her solomonic wisdom as she decides on her subjects' requests. Theon Greyjoy is a totally broken creature under the whims on ruthless Ramsey Snow.

But the main highlight of this episode is the trial of Tyrion Lannister. It was a total demolition job, as Pycelle, Varys and Cersei all take turns with their vile lying testimonies. Tywin has plans of simply sending off Tywin to exile in the Night Watch, and remove Jamie from the Kingsguard in order to be free to carry on the Lannister name. However, upon hearing the bitter betrayal of Shae on the stand, Tyrion flared up, confronts his father, and demands for a trial by combat.

This must be the only episode of GoT where there was not a single member of the Stark family shown. Seeing a Dragon appear is always a good moment for this series. Peter Dinklage lays claim again on the Emmy with this impassioned performance as the Imp in this episode. I wonder who will be Tyrion's champion in the trial by combat? (4/5)

S04E07: "Mockingbird"

This is a great eventful episode where we were brought throughout Westeros to see something about most of the significant characters in the series. We can certainly feel the accelerating build up to big events in the last three episodes this season.

We see various relationships goes another level: Arya and the Hound, Daenerys and Daario, Melissandre and Selyse. All in different ways, of course.

We see the chance encounter of Brienne and Podrick with "Hot Pie". Now they know that Arya is still alive.

We see Tyrion languishing as the people who he expected to be his champion turn him down. But in the end, he gets his biggest surprise by a declaration from a most unexpected person, Oberyn. We also get a bloody glimpse of Cersei's brutal gigantic champion, Ser Gregor (aka The Mountain).

The sleazy Petyr Baelish reveals his true intentions for Sansa Stark. But the biggest surprise was delivered at the end when another character meets her crazy end through the Moon Door. (4/5)

S04E08: "The Mountain and the Viper"

As the title clearly states, this episode was all about that much-awaited fight to the death between Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Oberyn Martell to decide the fate of Tyrion Lannister. This was another one of those classic Game of Thrones shocking death endings. It was bloody and crushing fight, the brutal ending of which will make you look away. 

Aside from that big fight though, many other significant events occurred.

The leader of the Unsullied Grey Worm gets mesmerized by the beauty of translator Missandrei (and who wouldn't after her alluring bathing scene?!). I guess he is up for a promotion now that Daenerys has discovered the truth about Ser Jorah Mormont and exiled him despite his eventual loyalty and (unrequited) love for her.

Reek seems to have miraculously recovered straight speech to play Theon Greyjoy to help the despicable Ramsay Snow in his quest to control the whole North. In return, Roose Bolton formally recognizes his son Ramsay and gives him his family name to replace the Snow (which indicates a bastard birth).

Sansa Stark actually stands up and lies for Petyr Baelish when the death of Lysa Arryn was being investigated. She actually sports a different, more confident look in her last scene in this episode. Meanwhile outside, Sandor and Arya finally reach the gates of the Vale.

Oh, there are scenes with Ygritte sparing Gilly and her baby when the Wildlings attacked their area, and scenes with the Nights Watch assessing their shortcomings. But these scenes did not seem significant with all these other big events happening elsewhere in Westeros. (5/5)

S04E09: The Watchers on the Wall

An entire episode dedicated to the battle between the Night Watch and the Wildlings in Castle Black. Said to be the most expensive GoT episode because of its special effects -- with giants, mammoth, wolf, and more gory deaths. 

There were only four people whose names I knew in this episode. One of them died, and it was not really a big surprise which one. This was a generally underwhelming episode for me as the Night Watch storyline is not exactly a favorite of mine. It came alive only for me in the last fifteen minutes or so. (2/5)

S04E10: "The Children"

This is the only episode the writers of Game of Thrones have submitted for Emmy consideration in the Writing category. This was even before the episode aired today. Now that is confidence in what they have got!

Up north, Stannis Baratheon overruns the camp of the Wildlings, just when Jon Snow was there to strike a deal with Mance Rayder. In Meereen, Daenerys was forced to chain her dragons underground. Meanwhile, Bran Stark finally meets his three-eyed raven in the form of an old man.

In Kings Landing, Tywin Lannister was having a bad day. Not only did Cersei confirm that all the incest rumors between her and Jamie are true, but Tyrion had even bigger issues to discuss with him with the help of a crossbow. (However finally, Tyrion had to put his trust on the slimy Varys who smuggles him onto a ship hidden in a box.)

When they cross paths, Brienne and the Hound fight to see who has Arya's best interests in mind. Arya though would not go with the victor. Instead, she embarks fearlessly sails into the unknown on her own, as this season closes.

There were so many exciting well-shot scenes like the attack of Stannis' army, the battle of Bran & Co. with the skeletons, and the fight between Brienne and the Hound. Ultimately, it would be the confrontation scene between Tyrion and his father in the toilet (of all places!) which would be remembered the most. Peter Dinklage and Charles Dance are indeed the two best actors in this series.

This finale had a lot of loose ends to tie but actually it just made the plots get murkier as more and more developments are set up for next season, which is not for another 9 months away. (5/5)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Recap of GAWAD BUHAY: 2013 Philstage Awards for the Performing Arts

June 7, 2014

Last night, I was witness to the sixth edition of Gawad Buhay awards.  This local version of the Tony Awards as PHILSTAGE honors the best performances of the previous theater season among its members. Philstage is an umbrella organization of professional performing arts companies in the Philippines, including Ballet Manila, Ballet Philippines, Gantimpala Theater Foundation, Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit, Peta, Repertory Philippines, Tanghalang Pilipino, Trumpets, Actor’s Actors, 9 Works Theatrical and Philippine Opera Company. 

The show started "promptly" at 8 pm, though the ticket said 7:30 pm.  Christian Bautista and Karylle, dressed in their "Cinderella" finery performed the first musical number and delivered the first introductory spiels. Karylle would also be the first to crack a joke about not being nominated, which would be a running gag among several other presenters through the night.  Sculptor Reg Yuson was acknowledged for his work on the Gawad trophies this year.

Emcees Christian Bautista and Karylle

The first awards presenter was Ricci Chan, dressed in his sparkly Care Divas garb.  He enumerated a list of rules for winners on how to receive their awards, essentially to keep their speeches short.  He handed the first award to REGINA DE VERA who was unopposed in the category Female Lead Performance in a Play for her work in “Der Kaufmann” (TP). Ms. de Vera broke every rule on Ricci's list to everyone's delight.  The other awards presented by Chan were:

Outstanding Translation or Adaptation
• RODY VERA, “Der Kaufmann” (TP)

Female Featured Performance in a Play
• Carla Dunareanu, “Boeing, Boeing” (Rep)
• RAQUEL PARENO, “Der Kaufmann” (TP)

Male Featured Performance in a Play
• Joe Gruta, “Kanser” (Gantimpala Theater Foundation)
• Lou Veloso, “Der Kaufmann” (TP)
• Marco Viaña, “Der Kaufmann” (TP)

Male Lead Performance in a Play
• Reb Atadero, “The Graduate” (Rep)
• Jonathan Tadioan, “Der Kaufmann” (TP)

Outstanding Production of Existing Material for a Play
• “Red” (AAI)

There was a speech by CCP President Chris Millado, calling the Gawads a celebration of the theater community, rather than a competition.  

This was followed by the conferment of the first of two lifetime achievement awards. To intorduce the first awardee, there was a staging of a scene from "Portrait of an Artist as a Filipino" with Liesl Batucan as Paula.  This segued to the same scene in the film version of this play, with the awardee Ms. NATY CRAME-ROGERS as Paula. Jaime del Mundo cited her achievements and presented the award. Ms. Crame-Rogers appeared onstage on her wheelchair.  She may look frail, but her mind was sharp in her acceptance speech, which she delivered with no notes.

Ms. Naty Crame-Rogers

There was a medley of songs from the 9Works production of "Grease".  I did not recognize any of the actors who performed, even the wan girl who played Sandy.  The girl who played Rizzo though clearly stood out.

The next set of awards, which were for Classical Dance, were handed out by Nicolo Magno.

Female Featured Performance in Classical Dance
• Jan Erika Basilio, “Le Corsaire” (BM)
• Dawna Mangahas “Le Corsaire” (BM)
• Jessa Balote, “The Nutcracker” (BM)
• Missy Macuja Elizalde, “The Nutcracker” (BM)
• RITA WINDER, “Giselle” (BP)

Male Featured Performance in Classical Dance
• Francis Cascaño, “Le Corsaire” (BM)

Female Lead Performance in Classical Dance
• Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, “Le Corsaire” (BM)
• LISA MACUJA-ELIZALDE, The “Nutcracker” (BM)
• Dawna Mangahas in “The Nutcracker” (BM)
• Denise Parungao, “Giselle” (BP)
• Katherine Trofeo, “Giselle” (BP)

Male Lead Performance in Classical Dance
• Mikhail Martinyuk, “La Bayadere” (BM)
• Rudy de Dios, “The Nutcracker” (BM)
• Earl John Arisola, “Giselle” (BP)

Outstanding Classical Dance Production
• “Le Corsaire” (BM)

There was a performance by the Philippine Opera Company with a medley of opera classics.  Aside from Karla Gutierrez, I did not recognize the other singers. The final soprano who was dressed in fiery red was a standout, but sadly I do not know her to cite her performance properly. I wish they could introduce the performers, but I guess that would take more time.

Sir Toots Tolentino and Amiel Mendoza 

The technical awards were handed out next by Publicity gurus Toots Tolentino and Amiel Mendoza.

Outstanding Sound Design
• Jeff Hernandez, “D’Wonder Twins of Boac” (Peta)
• Dodo Lim, “Red” (AAI)
• Rards Corpus, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)
• TJ RAMOS, “Der Kaufmann” (TP)
• TJ Ramos, “Ibalong” (TP)

Outstanding Costume Design
• Raven Ong, “Alice in Wonderland” (Rep)
• Raven Ong, “Boeing, Boeing” (Rep)
• Mio Infante, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)
• Tuxqs Rutaquio, “Der Kaufmann” (TP)
• LEEROY NEW, “Ibalong” (TP)

Outstanding Lighting Design
• John Batalla, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)
• John Batalla, “Der Kaufmann” (TP)
• Jay Aranda, “San Andres B” (TP)
• JOLU ESCANO, “Red” (Actor’s Actors, Inc.)
• John Batalla, “The Graduate” (Rep)

Outstanding Set Design
• Mio Infante, “The Graduate” (Rep)
• Gino Gonzales, “Alice in Wonderland” (Rep)
• Damien Anne and Baby Imperial-Anne, “Red” (AAI)
• Lex Marcos, “D’Wonder Twins of Boac” (Peta)
• MIO INFANTE, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for Classical Dance
• “Le Corsaire” (BM)
• “The Nutcracker” (BM)

Janine Desiderio came out to introduce an excerpt from TP's "Ibalong".  They performed an energetic and colorful dance number of the title song, featuring the award-winning costumes of Leeroy New.  

The cast of Ibalong sing and dance in their awesome costumes

"Metro Manila" buddies Jake Macapagal and John Arcilla came out to present the next set of awards, which were for Modern Dance. 

Female Featured Performance in Modern Dance
• GUIA GEQUINTO, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (BP)
• Monica Gana, “Rock Supremo” (BP)
• Jan Erika Basilio, “Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang” (BM)
• Missy Macuja Elizalde, “Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang” (BM)

Male Featured Performance in Modern Dance
• Jean Marc Cordero, “A Christmas Carol” (BP)
• Richardson Yadao, “A Christmas Carol” (BP)
• EARL JOHN ARISOLA, “Rock Supremo” (BP)
• Jean Marc Cordero, “Rock Supremo” (BP)
• Victor Maguad, “Rock Supremo” (BP)

Female Lead Performance in Modern Dance
• Katherine Trofeo, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (BP)
• Kris-Belle Paclibar, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (BP)
• CARISSA ADEA, “Rock Supremo” (BP)
• Joan Emery Sia, “Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang” (BM)
• Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, “Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang” (BM)

Male Lead Performance in Modern Dance
• Nonoy Froilan, “A Christmas Carol” (BP)
• CYRIL FALLAR, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (BP)
• Richardson Yadao, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (BP)
• Richardson Yadao, “Rock Supremo” (BP)
• Michael Divinagracia, “Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang” (BM)

Outstanding Modern Dance Production
• “A Christmas Carol” (BP)
• “Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang” (BM)

A trio of young dancers from Ballet Manila danced an excerpt from "The Nutcracker."

The second Natatanging Gawad Buhay award was presented by Nonoy Froilan.  The lifetime achievement awardee is BASILIO ESTEBAN VILLARUZ, a choreographer, choreologist, performing and visual arts critic and educator.  He was also a member of the Gawad jury for 2013.

Basilio Esteban Villaruz

Franco Laurel came out to present the next set of awards.

Outstanding Choreography for a Dance Production
• Edna Vida Froilan, “A Christmas Carol” (BP)
• CARLO PACIS, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (BP)
• Gerard Francisco (“Ang Palasyo ng Mga Duwende”) and Osias Barroso and Michael Divinagracia (“Anting-Anting”), “Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang” (BM)

Outstanding Choreography for a Play or Musical
• Arnold Trinidad and Francis Matheu, “Grease” (9WT)
• Carlon Matobato, “D’Wonder Twins of Boac” (Peta)
• Nancy Crowe, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)
• ALDEN LUGNASIN, “Ibalong” (TP)

Outstanding Stage Direction for a Play or Musical
• Robbie Guevarra, “Grease” (9WT)
• Bart Guingona, “Red” (AAI)
• Maribel Legarda, “D’Wonder Twins of Boac” (Peta)
• Jaime del Mundo, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Play
• “Red” (AAI)

The winning cast of Der Kaufmann

A couple of young lady singers dressed in blue went onstage to sing "For Good" from "Wicked".  This turned out to be the "In Memoriam" segment, paying respects to theater luminaries who passed away in the past year.  Cited were actors Amable Quiambao, Bong Embile, Behn Cervantes, theater benefactor Juan Lanuza, Philstage executive director Elmar Ingles and a couple of National Artists Daisy Avellana and Andrea Veneracion. I wished they also introduced the ladies who sang so well.  My seatmate whispered that they were Kakki Teodoro and K-La Rivera. (VIDEO)

An excerpt from PETA's "Wonder Twins of Boac" followed, which was the hilarious part where a stuntman was practicing action moves with his mentor, but his mentor had other "moves" in mind.

Karylle and Christian changed into their Rama Hari costumes to introduce an excerpt from Ballet Philippines "Rock Supremo." This energetic number featuring Jean Marc Cordero and a couple more dancers doing some difficult contemporary dance moves.

Ejay Yatco and Vince de Jesus

Ejay Yatco and Vincent de Jesus presented the next set of awards.

Outstanding Original Libretto
• Nicolas Pichay, “Rock Supremo” (BP)
• Layeta Bucoy, “Sandosenang Sapatos” (TP)
• Jaime del Mundo, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)
• RODY VERA, “D’Wonder Twins of Boac” (Peta)
• Rody Vera, “Ibalong” (TP)

Outstanding Musical Direction
• Sweet Plantado-Tiongson and Joseph Tolentino, “Grease” (9 Works Theatrical)
• Only Torres, “The Producers” (Rep)
• Rony Fortich, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)
• Carol Bello, “Ibalong” (TP)
• JOSEFINO (CHINO) TOLEDO, “San Andres B” (Tanghalang Pilipino)

Outstanding Original Musical Composition
• Carol Bello, “Ibalong” (TP)
• Noel Cabangon and Jed Balsamo, “Sandosenang Sapatos” (TP)
• Rony Fortich, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)
• Jeff Hernandez, “D’Wonder Twins of Boac” (Peta)

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for Modern Dance
• “A Christmas Carol” (BP)
• “Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang” (BM)

The next number was a solo spot for sweet little Trixie Esteban who sang her plaintive song "Sa Panaginip" from "Sandosenang Sapatos". (VIDEO)

The next set of awards were presented by Garry Lim and Anna Luna.

Female Featured Performance in a Musical
• SHAMAINE CENTENERA BUENCAMINO, “D’Wonder Twins of Boac” (Peta)
• Pinky Marquez, “No Way to Treat a Lady” (Rep)
• Bituin Escalante, “Alice in Wonderland” (Rep)
• Lynn Sherman, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)
• G Töngi-Walters, “The Producers” (Rep)

Male Featured Performance in a Musical
• AUDIE GEMORA, “The Producers” (Rep)
• Noel Rayos, “The Producers” (Rep)
• Joel Trinidad, “The Producers” (Rep)
• Joel Trinidad, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)
• Cheeno Macaraig, “Ibalong” (TP)

Outstanding Production for Children—Play, Musical or Dance
• “Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang” (BM)
• “A Christmas Carol” (BP)
• “Alice in Wonderland” (Rep)
• “Sandosenang Sapatos” (TP)

An excerpt from "Bluebird of Happiness" was introduced and performed by Robbie Zialcita, playing his dog character with little children dancing around him.

Robbie Zialcita and kids sing and dance

The members of the hardworking Gawad jury, who are required to watch all productions of Philstage member-companies for the entire year, were acknowledged. For 2013, they were Vlad Bunoan, Gibbs Cadiz, Ralph Semino Galan, Glenn Mas, Elka Requienta, Carlo Rivera and Steve Basilio Villaruz.  The 2014 jurors were also announced: Rome Jorge, Jazmin Llana, Martin Lopez, Tats Manahan, Clarissa Mijares, Chantall Primero, Ricky Toledo, and Chito Vijandre.

Carla Guevara- Laforteza presented the next set of awards with Sandino Martin.  

Female Lead Performance in a Musical
• Jenine Disederio, “Ibalong” (TP)
• Trixie Esteban, “Sandosenang Sapatos” (TP)
• Nikki Gil, “They’re Playing Our Song” (9WT)
• Chimmi Kohchet-Chua, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)
• CRIS VILLONCO, “D’Wonder Twins of Boac” (Peta)

Male Lead Performance in a Musical
• Gian Magdangal, “Grease” (9WT)
• ROBBIE ZIALCITA, “The Producers” (Rep)
• Audie Gemora, “No Way to Treat a Lady” (Rep)
• Lawrence Martinez, “They’re Playing Our Song” (9WT)
• Anton Posadas, “The Bluebird of Happiness” (Trumpets)

Topper Fabregas gamely (he was the only cast member of that show NOT nominated) introduced an excerpt from Rep's "The Producers" which was the riotous "Keep It Gay" number with Audie Gemora in full sparkly drag, looking like the Chrysler Building.  Joel Trinidad covered for the absent Noel Rayos.  This number really brought the house down! (VIDEO)

Just after that crazy number, Sir Audie Gemora had to deliver his speech as Philstage president breathless, AND in his Roger DeBris regalia, which was very funny.  He extolled the sense of Community among theater people.  This very awards show had been a labor of love alone, as it had been staged tonight despite having a ZERO budget.

The final set of awards were presented by Ms. Joy Virata and Ms. CB Garrucho.

Outstanding Production of Existing Material for a Musical
• “GREASE” (9WT)
• “They’re Playing Our Song” (9WT)
• “The Producers” (Rep)

The winning cast of Grease

Outstanding Original Musical
• “D’Wonder Twins of Boac” (Peta)
• “Sandosenang Sapatos” (TP)
• “Ibalong” (TP)

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Musical
• “Grease” (9WT)
• “D’Wonder Twins of Boac” (Peta)
• “Ibalong” (TP)
• “The Producers” (Rep)

The winning cast of Bluebird

No winner was announced for Outstanding Original Play and Outstanding Original Script.  I was thinking a lot of the original plays and scripts, or other worthy stage performances were not eligible tor awards because they were not staged by Philstage member theater organizations.  Hope time will come when university productions, like Dulaang UP, as well as other professional theater groups like Atlantis, will also be included in the Philstage roster.

I felt bad that I was not able to watch the most awarded production of the night (winning 7 Gawads), "Der Kaufmann" by TP.  I was able to watch all the other TP productions of the season except this one!  I hope they re-stage this multiple winner one day.  The other big winner of the night is "The Bluebird of Happiness" by Trumpets.  I knew this show was on its way to multiple awards that very night when I saw it.  I extolled its world-class merits in my review which was posted HERE.

Mabuhay ang Teatrong Pilipino!