Friday, December 29, 2017

My Yearend Roundup: The BEST of PHILIPPINE THEATER 2017

December 29, 2017

For the year 2017, I had seen and written about 53 theater productions: 15 musicals, 21 full-length plays, and 17 one-act plays. I missed a lot of productions in Ateneo because of schedule conflicts and especially the bad traffic in that area.

I will list here what I feel were the best among those theater shows I have seen and written about for 2017. (My 2016 list was posted HEREMy 2015 list was posted HERE.)


(My Full Review)

Music by: Pipo Cifra
Written and Directed by: Vincent Tanada

In an inventive and bold twist of storytelling genius, Atty. Vince Tanada brings us inside the disturbed psyche of Juan Luna as he argued within himself about key decisions and events of his life, both celebratory and tragic.  While this potentially controversial two-in-one characterization style (the genteel artist vs. the volatile cad) can cause confusion for the viewers at first, this novel approach also made us gain a unique understanding of the artist and his state of mind. I marveled at how Atty. Tanada was able to create such an imaginative manner of telling what could have been a straightforward dry history lesson.

Other Notable Productions:

Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (My Review)
Aurelio Sedisyoso (My Review)
Tagu-taguan, Nasaan ang Buwan (My Review)

Notable Performances:

Vincent Tanada, Patrick Libao, Cindy Liper and Adelle Ibarrientos-Lim (Obra ni Juan); Arman Ferrer, Aicelle Santos and Shiela Valderama-Martinez (Maynila); David Ezra, Norby David and Hazel Maranan (Aurelio Sedisyoso): Roi Calilong and Joan Bugcat (Tagu-taguan); Upeng Galang Fernandez (A Game of Trolls)


(My Full Review)

Book by: Dennis Kelly based on a novel by Roald Dahl
Music and Lyrics by: Tim Minchin
Director: Bobby Garcia

The heart and soul of the whole show was Telesa Marie "Esang" De Torres who played Matilda.  So impressive was her snappy Hermione-Granger sounding British accent with which she flawlessly delivered the longest lines while narrating four parts of her story. When we hear her sing her solo songs "Naughty" or "Quiet", it was transcendent of any initial expectations for a child performer her age in her first lead role in a major production. The beautiful stage design depicting Matilda's favorite library is immediately arresting in its size and play with colors, as designed by Faust Peneyra. Director Bobby Garcia, as always, never fails to wow the audience with how he staged the shadow play storytellling and the telekinetic special effects. 

Other Notable Productions:

Newsies (My Review)
Kinky Boots (My Review)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (My Review)

*** Foreign Touring Production: The Sound of Music (My Review)

Notable Performances:

Esang de Torres, Cris Villonco, Joaquin Valdez, Carla Guevara-Laforteza and Jaime Wilson (Matilda), Gian Magdangal, Danielle Chopin, Jef Flores and Daniel Drilon (Newsies); Nyoy Volante (Kinky Boots); Reb Atadero (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang): Caisa Borromeo (Hair): Carla Guevara-Laforteza (Spamalot), Noel Rayos and Franco Laurel (A Christmas Carol 2017); Janelle Visagie (The Sound of Music)


A. One-Act:

Best: LOOB
(My Full Review)

Written by: Patrick Libao
Directed by: Vincent Tanada

The performance of Gerald Magallanes as the ballet boy Mika was bold and graceful in the course of his painful self-discovery, literally baring himself body and soul on that stage. His intensity was matched step by step by Arian Golondrina, who amazed everyone with her fluid versatility as she seamlessly transitioned into multiple characters, even dropping a few lines in Russian. A thunderous standing ovation greeted this mesmerizing play when it ended, all truly deserved!

Other Notable Productions:

Pilipinas Kong Mahal with All the Overcoat (My Review)
Si Dr. Dolly Dalisay at ang mga Ladybugs (My Review)
Ang Mga Puyong (My Review)

Notable Performances:

Gerald Magallanes and Arian Golondrina (Loob), Fitz Bitana and Anthony Falcon (Plipinas), Dolly de Leon and Celeste Legaspi (Dr. Dolly), Reynald Santos and Ahmed Maulana (Puyong) Gie Onida (Birdcage), Ricci Chan and John Lapuz (Hindi Ako si Darna), Katie Bradshaw and Epi Quizon (Beheld), Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap (Carol)

B. Full-Length: Original Filipino Material or Filipino Adaptation:

(My Full Review)

Written by: Floy Quintos
Directed by: Dexter M. Santos

This new Quintos - Santos collaboration is inspired by the real life story of Alfonso Ossorio, a Filipino artist who painted on a wall in the sanctuary of a chapel in Victorias, Negros Occidental in 1950. The creation of this mural, called "Angry Christ," was the source of much turmoil and controversy for Ossorio, but it eventually became a high point of his career as an artist, and the work he will be remembered for in the land of his birth. For a second consecutive time this year, Nelsito Gomez is playing an artist with a controversial painting about Jesus Christ against popular conventions of religious art. 

Other Notable Productions:

Ang Pag-uusig (My Review)
Sakuntala (My Review)
Ang Buhay ni Galileo (My Review)

Notable Performances:

Nelsito Gomez and Kalil Almonte (Angry Christ), JV Ibesate, Jonathan Tad Tadioan, Doray Dayao and Antonette Go (Ang Pag-uusig), Vincent Kevin Pajara (Sakuntala), Bodjie Pascua, John Moran and Noel Comia Jr. (Ang Buhay ni Galileo), Leo Rialp and Issa Litton (Mga Ama, Mga Anak), Boo Gabunada (Bagong Cristo), Juliene Mendoza (Eurydice), Angeli Bayani, Jackie Lou Blanco and Cherry Pie Picache (Buwan at Baril)


(My Full Review)

Written by: John Pielmeyer
Directed by: Bart Guingona

Even if Pinky Amador may physically seem too young to play a strict jaded Mother Superior, she convinces us that she was one by the sheer gravelly grit of her voice as she delivered her world-weary lines which dripped with bitterness. Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo never missed a beat as the chain-smoking doctor. Her psychiatrist was frank and straightforward, yet caring and empathetic. That chest-beating scene is simply so potent.  As Agnes, Becca Coates reminded me of the raw talent exuded by a young Monique Wilson. Her look and her voice were angelic and innocent, yet she made us feel Agnes' fractured psyche.

Other Notable Productions:

My Name is Asher Lev (My Review)
W;t (My Review)
Prelude to Macbeth (My Review)

Notable Performances:

Becca Coates, Pinky Amador and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo (Agnes of God); Nel Gomez (Asher Lev); Tami Monsod (W;t); Mikkie-Volante and Bart Guingona (Blackbird);  Giannina Ocampo, Caisa Borromeo, Tami Monsod and Joshua Spafford (In the Next Room); Michael Williams, Roselyn Perez and Cherie Gil (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike); Jernice Matunan (Prelude to Macbeth)

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