Saturday, March 21, 2015

Recap of ONE DIRECTION Live in Manila 2015 (Day 1): Biggest Concert Event Ever!

March 21, 2015

When One Direction announced that they will be having a concert in Manila early last year, their local fans were thrown in a frenzy. One the day the tickets were released, everything from VIP to Gold were sold out. Silver and Gen Ad seats were sold out by the next day. To assuage crying fans who missed out, a second date was announced. This was good news which was received with open arms and parents' wallets.

Well today March 21 was my daughter's recognition day when she received 2 medals. The ceremony was held in the afternoon, so we only got out of school by 3 pm. We had to rush over to the MOA in order to get decent parking being a Saturday with an extra-big event coming. All the seaside parking areas were already full. We parked in the mall, already on the 5th floor. The lines were already very long. We decided to eat an early dinner first before joining the line at around 5 pm. An even longer line formed behind us as we waited. Many enterprising people were selling 1D merchandise from glow sticks to T-shirts.


By 6:30 pm, loud screaming was heard from beyond the corner in front of us. Turned out it was because the gates were already open. Fortunately, despite the high level of excitement, everyone was very disciplined and followed the lines into the venue. We decided to just stay at the back of our section while everyone it seems were already crowding the front part of the section when we came in. It afforded us a great view of a wide screen. This was our only way to see the 1D boys since our view of the stage was already so miniscule. There was an empty space in front of us which made our concert time quite comfortable as we rested our back on the back divider of our section. 

By about 7:30, there was a DJ named KC who played a lot of dance music from Rihanna to Zed in order to build up excitement in the audience. There were even fireworks in the sky during his first song! I am thinking that there in our section were many young girls there who are attending a concert for the first time. They were really very excited with this DJ and were already dancing non-stop with taking videos and photos. After this DJ's set, they played music videos of other boy bands like 5 Seconds of Summer (the lyrics of whose songs the audience also knew by heart). They were also playing a lot of dance music to keep the mood up, from "Macarena" to "Single Ladies" to "Locked Out of Heaven." The excited fans were also screaming when their heard their idols' voices during a concert safety video they were flashing on the screens. 


At around 8:30 pm or so, the lights on the stage started coming to life. The concert is starting!  From our section, I hardly saw what going on on stage, but this colorful video started showing on the screens. Then we hear the One Direction boys were already singing live. The screaming of the girls around us was deafening. They were positively singing out all the lyrics of each and every song! 

As already announced the day before, there were only four guys on that stage. Zayn Malik really did not show up, begging off from the rest of the tour because of "stress". His name was not even mentioned at all during the show. Of course, his diehard fans missed his presence. For me, the four boys performed as if they were only really four in the group. I certainly did not notice anything amiss in the arrangements, though I am sure all the true fans knew which Zayn parts were sung by alternates.





Harry Styles stood out in his yellow shirt with floral designs and electric bad-boy stage presence. During the encore, he came out wearing a black t-shirt and his hair tied up, much to his fans' delight. He seemed to be performing separately from the others. Niall Horan (and his trusty guitar), Liam Payne (and his mic flipping), and Louis Tomlinson (with his white sleeveless shirt) all had their own big moments. These three were always seen interacting, goofing off and having fun with each other. Every boy had his own group of dedicated fans. Different groups of girls were screaming when their faces were being shown on the screens.

These are the songs they sang:

1. Clouds
2. Steal My Girl (VIDEO)
3. Little Black Dress
4. Where Do Broken Hearts Go
5. Midnight Memories (VIDEO)
6. Kiss You
7. Stockholm Syndrome (VIDEO)

8. Ready To Run
9. Strong
10. Better Than Words
11. Don't Forget Where You Belong: From our area, we only saw videos of the boys in their previous tours. Some fans in the audience were holding up Philippine flags.
12. Night Changes (VIDEO
13. Little Things (VIDEO): The guys sat down side by side to sing this gentle ballad.

14. Alive
15. Diana
16. One Thing: From our area, we only saw a video game cartoon with the boys as pixelated characters.
17. What Makes You Beautiful (VIDEO)
18. Through The Dark: A light rain started falling during this song. Of course the boys onstage and fans on the field seemed to pay no mind. 
19. Story of my Life (VIDEO)


20. You and I
21. Little White Lies
22. Live While We're Young
23. Best Song Ever (VIDEO)

The boys kept on repeating over and over how this was their best show ever and how much they love Manila and the Philippines. They apologized for the difficulty fans had to endure to get to the concert. Harry even thanked the parents, grandparents, husbands and boyfriends who brought their fans over. 

I must say that of all concerts I have attended (and I have watched a lot), this must be the biggest one I have ever seen. Not even those big outdoor concerts I've seen of Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, Sting, Phil Collins, or Beyonce could match it in terms of sheer rabid fan numbers and power. I don't know, but maybe we have to really look back to the Manila concerts by Beatles in 1966, or those of Michael Jackson in 1996, or F4 in 2003 (three  shows that I didn't witness) to find something that could match this event in those terms. I am sure all those screaming fangirls just had their most exciting and memorable night of their young lives. The spectacular extended fireworks display after the show ended the show with a big colorful bang, making sure we will long remember this show.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Review of Repertory Phils' 4000 MILES: Coming Forth in Life

March 14, 2015

Usually, by this time of the year, Repertory Philippines already had two plays done in its current season. However, oddly this year, Rep was very quiet. There was no grand announcement last December as they usually did. Frankly, I was concerned they would not be having a season this year. It was only this month when the Rep announced that it had a play coming up, and I was very relieved.

The title of the show is "4000 Miles." It is a play written by Amy Herzog that had its off-Broadway debut in 2011. It won the 2012 Obie Award for Best New American Play. It won the 2012 New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award. It was #1 on Time Magazine's list of 2012 Plays and Musicals. It was also a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. I am happy that Rep has chosen more recent material this time around. Fans notice that they frequently stage material from the 1960s or 70s which tend to be very dated in style. 

21-year old Leo Joseph-Connell was on a cross-country bike ride when a major tragedy struck. He sought out and bunked with his 91-year old grandmother Vera in her New York City apartment. This decision led to a month-long bonding stay around which the story of "4000 Miles" revolved. The play is just a series of conversations between grandmother and grandson in Vera's apartment. There is no real unifying theme in these conversations, just random topics with no clear relations to each other. The off-putting sex talk (hardly a topic grandmas and grandsons really talk about) and the occasional expletives make this show inappropriate for young teens.

Being a simple talky play with hardly any physical action nor major histrionic moments, it really just depends on the talents of the actors to make the audience listen and pay attention. If we were given any lesser actors to bring this type of script to life, it would be so easy for the audience to just tune out or even nod off. Fortunately it was not the case in this production.

The esteemed Ms. Baby Barredo herself, one of the pillars of Repertory Philippines, played Vera Joseph. I missed Ms. Barredo's performance as Violet Weston in last year's Rep production of "August Osage County" (though I was thoroughly enthralled by the riveting performance of her alternate Sheila Francisco), so I made sure I did not miss this one. You really cannot separate actor and character here. It seems Ms Barredo and Vera are one person. It seemed that every deep breath Ms. Barredo drew or every frown her face formed is exactly what Vera would do in that situation. 

However, the character of Vera though did not have any big moment. She was not even the central character of the play at all. Ms. Barredo graciously allowed her newcomer co-star Jeff Flores to shine on center stage. Tall, lanky with a long mane of hair, Flores perfectly fit the bill of the slacker Leo, a young man who is at a crossroads in his life and had seemingly no idea what to do next. By the time he was delivering Leo's big moment -- an emotional 10-minute-or-so monologue in Act 2, I was very impressed. Flores nailed that difficult scene with no sense of pretense at all. This was certainly an auspicious and star-making dramatic debut for this new actor.

The liveliest scene of the play is that one featuring Cara Barredo as Amanda, a chirpy Chinese party girl whom Leo brings home to the apartment. She was simply so naturally delightful and fun to watch, unmindful of her racy lines and revealing costume. She was a welcome breath of fresh air in what was becoming a heavy-handed serious talkfest.

Caisa Borromeo is also in the cast as Leo's girlfriend Bec. Even if she has two longer scenes than Amanda, Bec did not have anything memorable about her at all. This is not Borromeo's fault though but the thankless way her character was written. Borromeo does her best with the rather lifeless and underwritten part.

The set is beautifully planned and executed, really looking like a real NYC flat, especially with that hallway that allowed us to see the door of their neighbor. The lighting was very effective in those intense dramatic moments. Director Bart Guingona comes up with a well-staged production. Even with the limitations of the script, he was successful in drawing inspired performances from his talented cast. 


"4000 Miles" runs this weekend up to March 29, 2015, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, 3:30pm and 8:00pm at the OnStage Theatre (2nd Floor, Greenbelt 1 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City).