PETA has always been known for its outstanding theater shows for children, like "Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang" and "Ang Post Office." This year, on its Golden anniversary, PETA once again comes up with a new show for kids and kids at heart -- J-mee Katanyag’s “Tagu-Taguan Nasaan Ang Buwan”.
Against his wishes, Popoy was brought by his strict and stressed out Father to Lola Luna's house to take care of her because she was ill. Popoy was puzzled when his Lola called him Jepoy, and told him that she needed to look for her friends. His Father though told him to ignore her because this was all mere nonsense idle talk of a sick old woman.
Later that night though, a giant mouse named Ngo appeared and told Popoy that he had a shining heart and was the prophesied savior of Dilim-Dilim Land from the curse of the monstrous Papaw Halimaw. With the help of Ngo and the crazy and colorful Princess Mina, Popoy collected some items from the other denizens of Saysay Lupalop -- essential things for him to complete his fated task.
Those new to PETA may not recognize them, but all those nutty residents of Saysay Lupalop were actually characters culled from other PETA children's shows. I recognized Pepe and Pepito to be from "Batang Rizal" (MY REVIEW). As for the others, the hypernasal Ngo is from “Ngo ang Dagang Patay,” the bipolar Prinsesa Mina is from “Ang Tiririt ng Ibong Adarna,” the English-speaking Little Match Girl is from “Hans Christian Andersen Must Be Filipino”, and the challenge-hungry travelers Ismail and Isabel are from “Ismail at Isabel.”
To make the play attractive to kids, the set and costumes have to be vibrant and colorful, and they are! Costume designer Leeroy New had some very imaginative designs for the costumes of the Saysay Lupalop characters, especially Ngo, Princess Mina and Match Girl, also with accessories recycled from household items. The lighting of Loren Rivera and the shadow designs of Sig Pecho worked well with the sets of Charles Yee to create a world of wonder. The giant puppet of Papaw Halimaw was a sight to behold!
Bugcat, Silos, Relavo and other cast members
meet fans in the lobby after the show
In the show I watched, the boy Popoy was played by Albert Silos ( his alternates in this role are Noel Comia and Omar Uddin. The role of Lola Luna was played by Joann Co (her alternates in that role are Marichu Belarmino and Upeng Galang-Fernandez). Popoy's father was played by John Moran. Silos gave a spirited lead performance with confidence and verve. Co gave the third act a potent emotional core. Moran did not feel like he was comfortable playing a father.
The delightful audience-favorite Ngo was played by Roi Calilong. His speech defect must have been so hard to sustain the whole show with a straight face. The very exhausting role of the unhinged Princess Mina was played by Joan Bugcat. She also got to display her belting voice that we heard before in "Rak of Aegis."
Match Girl had a pitch perfect English accent care of Teetin Villanueva. Her Tagalog with an accent is even cuter to the ear. Ismail was rather awkwardly played by Gelo Lantana, but Isabel was sprightly played by Raven Relavo. Pepe and Pepito were given energetic portrayals by Lemuel Silvestre and Vic Robinson III respectively.
Vien Alen King, Eric Dela Cruz, Phil Noble, Gab Pangilinan, Angelo Lantaco, Julia Enriquez, Yeyin Dela Cruz, Gerhard Krysstopher, and Norbs Portales alternate in these roles on other show dates.
Director Dudz Teraña kept the physical comedy up on high gear for almost the whole one and half hours running time of the show, knowing how any dip in the show's momentum might cause the attention of the kids in the audience to wander. The music by composer Jeff Hernandez may not have been immediately catchy for me, but it was lively and bubbly enough to keep the energy of the show going.
For adults though, the payoff will be in the third act, which will resonate with them, with me, the most. Writer J-mee Katanayag delivers a message of not losing our connection with our childhood and the stories we have heard back then. We should never be too jaded with the pressures of adulthood. Instead, we should always hang on to our inner child with its essense of awe and imagination. Our kids will love us more for it.
“Tagu-taguan Nasaan Ang Buwan?” debuted last August 18, 2017 at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City. It will have one more show at that venue on August 27 at 3 pm. The next weekend, it will be staged at the Star Theater in Pasay City on September 2 and 3, with shows at 10 am and 3 pm. For the Sept. 2 shows, contact Eko Baquial at 0915-734-7431. For the Sept. 3 shows, contact PETA at 0917-539-1112.