‘Sweeney Todd,’ a rather pleasant musical experience

“Sweeney Todd” would have been a perfect musical for the Halloween. But it lacked the gore and grit, and messiness, I was hoping to see. Or maybe that’s just the horror freak in me expecting for a blood bath.

I did enjoy the impeccable singing of the cast which I think is the strength of the Manila production of the play. The clear vocals almost sound like they are pre-recorded. That’s how good it was.

Jett Pangan, though failing to project the tormented mad man character of the demon barber, showed off his effortless singing. “Prince Ballad” Gerald Santos’ sweet voice was a perfect fit for the love-struck character of Anthony Hope. Nyoy Volante as the hilarious Adolfo Pirelli was a joy to watch. I also liked listening to Baritone Andrew Fernando’s deep voice playing Judge Turpin.

Lea Salonga as Mrs. Lovett was, as expected, spectacular. I’ve always been a big fan of Lea so I was ecstatic to get to finally see her live and revel in her lovely voice. I thought her quirky characterization of Mrs. Lovett was spot on. Loved the Cockney accent, too.  

“Sweeney Todd” is about murder and cannibalism but the musical was anything but dark. It was however a showcase of world class talent – of Pinoys who sing damn well and I for one, certainly can’t get enough of that!

 

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‘Ang Huling El Bimbo’ – Bittersweet Nostalgia

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There’s something about the 90s fashion of grunge, bulky and oversized clothes. It would make you spin right back to the past when life was, well, simpler. And music from the same period would make you embrace nostalgia even more as the feelings sink deeper through your veins.

This is what I felt when I watched “Ang Huling El Bimbo,” a musical inspired by the songs of the Filipino rock band Eraserheads. The 90s kid in me came to life. I quietly sang along to these all too familiar tunes. It’s a surprise how songs of the past are still retained in memory while I can barely remember the words of current songs on Spotify. Sign of aging? Let’s just admit that music then was much better. I would even dare say that the 90s was the golden era for OPM (Original Pinoy Music).

The first half of the musical was brimming with life and energy relaying the story of carefree college life, friendship, and just plain fun. The revolving stage made seamless transitions between scenes and the beautiful choreography was a feast to the eyes that you won’t know where to look.

And then it gets dark. The song “Ang Huling El Bimbo” itself after all is not rainbows and butterflies. Growing up could mean losing yourself. A social commentary on the war on drugs and the face of poverty in the Philippines became the backdrop of the personal struggles of the characters in the story. That’s how life is. It can be messy.

I liked how the live band gave a fresh take on the songs. Who would have thought “With A Smile,” a song of hope, can be haunting. I also envied the effortless singing of the actors hitting high notes like it’s nothing. And the acting, too, was very natural and believable.

“Ang Huling El Bimbo” brought me back to the 90s. It made me smile. It made me sing. It made me frown in agreement to the wrongs of this world. It made me appreciate Pinoy talent. It made me want to watch more Filipino theater shows. I’ll definitely be coming back for more.

 

 

 

‘Sa Wakas’ – about wasak na pag-ibig

Sa wakas, napanood ko na rin ang musical play na ito, with the same name. Inspired by the music of Sugarfree, inilahad ng “Sa Wakas” ang phases of a break up nang pabaliktad. Reverse chronology ang peg ng show which I thought gave a unique twist, at sa umpisa palang, ipapamukha na sa iyo na walang forever.

Surprisingly, for a non-romantic like me na ayaw sa drama, natuwa naman ako sa dula. Bittersweet ang feels kasi you root for the relationship to work but you know that it won’t. Saklap! The play explored this pain part of love with struggles of finding one’s self as a backdrop, na very contemporary at relatable sa mga millenials.

For me, what stood out in the play is the music. I mean Ebe Dancel is such a poet. “Sa pagkumpas ng iyong kamay / Aking landas ginagabay / Nag-iisang tiyak sa isang libong duda / Silong sa iyak at pagluluksa…” Wow, di ba?!

Ang cool lang ng pagkakahabi ng mga awitin sa kuwento. Ang galing din ng live band with the violin and piano. Swak na swak iyong chuwariwap. At ang linis at effortless ng pagkanta nina Vic Robinson, Cara Barredo, at Justine Peña.

Hanggang next week nalang ang Farewell Run kaya nood na mga bes. “Ayoko nang mag-isa,” sabi ng kanta pero okay lang manood mag-isa tulad ng ginawa ko na walk-in lang. Kung mahilig ka sa love story, o hugot, o music, okay ito para sa iyo plus you’re supporting local artists which is always a good thing! 🙂

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Credit: Sa Wakas, A Pinoy Rock Musical

Three Songs

Writing 101 Day 3: Commit to a Writing Practice
Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you? Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice.

Only three? It’s like the genie giving me three wishes and I wish for unlimited wishes. I love music of different genres so picking three would be difficult. This is me apologizing to all my favorite songs which may not get picked today.

Before Frozen dominated the airwaves with its “Let it go, let it go…” Rob Thomas’ Little Wonders already urged his listeners to let go of whatever is holding them down. “Let it go, let it roll right off your shoulders don’t you know the hardest part is over…” It’s a hopeful song and if there’s a feel-good movie, I guess this is a feel-good song. A depressed friend once asked me to prescribe her a song that could ease her misery and Little Wonders was no little at all as the song somehow made her happy. The power of music.

If you think of a powerful song, One Day More from the Musical Les Miserables would definitely be one. I like how each singer, each character, each voice tells a story. And how this intertwines with another. Counterpointing. Different voices, different melodies. They come together, nevertheless, and create harmony.

Seasons of Love from the Musical Rent is another all-time favorite. The words are powerful. It succinctly describes friendship, love, and seemingly mundane moments summing up one’s life.