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A brave experiment

WHEN most theater producers postponed or canceled their shows because of the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, the Virgin Labfest (VLF) went in a different direction — it migrated online. With the help of the online technical team of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the festival of untried, untested, and unstaged one-act plays went on as originally scheduled with livestreams on Facebook and Vimeo.

The politics of the body

IT’S a pas de deux on air. Two men attracted to each other climb up a silky white cloth mounted on the proscenium’s battens, and they slide and slither until they reach the heights of libidinal pleasures. Lust evolved to love but the commitments that were forged soon teeter on a precipice as they battle the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV now lodged in their bodies.

It’s about time to understand HIV

PETA Theater closes its 52nd season with Under My Skin, a drama about Filipinos living with HIV.

Unblurred Lines

SLIPPERY TONE. The phrase is mentioned several times in Repertory Philippines’ 83rd season opener, Stage Kiss, suggesting the director’s dilemma on how to handle the variations in text, subtext and metatext of a complex play. In this case, the phrase refers to the troubles of both the character of the Director in the play (Jamie Wilson), as well as Stage Kiss’ actual director Carlos Siguion-Reyna.

La Alegre and the Waray zarzuela Lunop Han Dughan

LUNOP HAN DUGHAN, shown in Tacloban City on Nov. 7 and 9, brought a new whiff of dramatic energy to the traditional Waray zarzuela and community theater after two decades of moribund theater activity in Tacloban. Previous presentations of Waray zarzuelas were mostly nostalgic revivals, notably the plays of Iluminado Lucente whose works still lend well to staging. Held for the 6th Commemoration of the Supertyphoon Yolanda Disaster, Lunop was not the usual zarzuela. While it carried the trappings of the form — music, songs, dances, and dialogue — Lunop underwent a kind of reinvention. Surreal, metonymic and folksy, its new configuration seemed designed to test the waters of social acceptance with its new audience.

Sweeney Todd gets a modern tweak

BEFORE the show, I had explained a synopsis of Sweeney Todd to my teenage sister; one of the things I noted was that the story is set in Victorian England. Upon entering the theater, the first thing I noticed was the sound of heavy rain coming from the onstage. It was only during the creative presentation of show reminders (Turn off your cellphone!) that I noticed: “Wait! It’s set during the Industrial Revolution, right? Then why are there cars?”

Faith and Feminism

IT IS 1883, the town is Paete, the cloak of Franciscan friar rule shrouds the town’s christened folks. Father Galiano commissions Mariano, an indio, to sculpt an image of the Virgin Mary — the Dolorosa iteration — for a competition in Amsterdam.

High notes for Passion

“What is the cost of a few words when a life hangs in the balance?” Doctor Tambourri, who is airing for the terminally ill Fosca, asks the young soldier Giorgio Bachetti in Stephen Sondheim’s one-act operetta, Passion.

What it takes to have company

It’s Robert’s (fondly called Bobby) 35th birthday! And his friends — five couples and three girlfriends — are waiting for him to show up at his surprise birthday party. He is the only bachelor among them. Will he wish to finally find the one? Or to stay content and happy as a bachelor? Is he really ready for commitment?

Rak on!

BARANGAY VENEZIA is still underwater three months after the last typhoon hit. It has affected every aspect of their lives. The children and the elderly are getting sick. Their livelihood has been threatened. The simple act of moving from one street to the next would require a boat ride. Its residents, frustrated by the inaction of the local government, realized that the massive flooding began only after a subdivision for the affluent was built near their impoverished community.

The persistence of love

SARA and Callie are out late one evening at NYC’s West Village and share their first kiss. A bystander then viciously attacks them — Sara’s injuries are so bad that she falls into a coma.

A songbook of life and love

By Michelle Anne P. Soliman, Reporter THEATER REVIEW Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Presented by AtlantisTwenty June 14 to July 7 Meralco Theater, Pasig City THE ORCHESTRA began playing a...

Listen to understand, not respond

AMONG A slew of big-budget productions, a not-so-quiet little play emerged with one of the boldest and loudest, yet sweetest, voice that many have not heard in a very long time. The Kundiman Party, a play by Floy Quintos and directed by Dexter M. Santos, is currently being restaged at the Peta Theater Center.

The Dresser as master class for actors

By Sujata S. Mukhi Theater Review The Dresser Directed by Loy Arcenas Presented by Repertory Philippines Fridays to Sundays until May 26 Onstage Theatre, Greenbelt 1 Paseo de Roxas St., Makati...

Tokhang and talkbacks

TWO EVENTS transpired on April 16 at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City. The first was the performance of Mae Paner (a.k.a. Juana Change) of a four-part monodrama written by Maynard Manansala and directed by Ed Lacson. The second was the talkback — a forum that followed after the curtain call where the play’s lone actor, the playwright, informants, and sources of inspiration went up the stage to answer queries from the audience.

Still relevant after nearly 40 years

MISTAKES of the past are repeated — it takes a long time before the cycle is broken.

Superb Angels leaves one wanting more

WHEN THE Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group opened the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium for the initial offering of its 20th season production last Friday, it performed for what could be the most theatrically star-studded audience possible. There was Lea Salonga, Monique Wilson, Michael Williams, and the cast of Ang Huling El Bimbo in attendance to name a few. It was like being in a family reunion of kindred spirits bound by love for the theater.

Popular culture and political theater

CHAROT” is gay slang, one of the many fluid terms generated by popular lingo, often used as an interjection to express the flimsy nature of a statement and to which the appropriate response should be... charot, or char, its abbreviated expression. The word has permeated popular culture such that in television, radio, and social media, the term is used with impunity.

Reworked El Bimbo musical soars

SEVEN YEARS after the revolution, a nation once filled with hope but now confronted with the enormity of the task to rebuild a broken country woke up to the unique sound of the Eraserheads. The rock band, whose members came from the University of the Philippines, debuted Ultraelectromagneticpop! in 1993. This album would be the first of over a dozen. It also led to Ang Huling El Bimbo — a musical inspired by the music of arguably the most popular Filipino band of the ’90s.

Interactive theater: Amidst despair, always hope

SHE GLIDES onto the stage, lithe and nimble, and randomly distributes what seem like rectangular flashcards to members of the audience. There are numbers and words written on those cards. She instructs them to hold on to those cards and remember the numbers and words written on them.

A critical decision

PETA’s inventive musical comedy Charot! takes place on election day in May 2020 when citizens of P.I. battle traffic and bad weather to reach their voting precincts before they close. A plebiscite is being held to determine whether the nation will transition to a new charter which will establish federalism as the country’s new form of government.

Manila Notes: People at an exhibition

A MUSEUM, an art gallery, or a theater performance, are not places where Pinoys typically congregate. The shopping mall remains the most popular choice which is why Sunday mass is celebrated there. For “educational excursions,” teachers and their students prefer to be part of the live audience of popular TV noontime variety or afternoon game shows. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise, to find seven van loads of senior high school students attending an evening performance of Oriza Hirata’s Manila Notes in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Waitress is fun and sweet

TWO WOMEN in front of me couldn’t stop reacting to what they were watching on stage. Sometimes the other woman would slap her friend’s shoulder, out of kilig (thrill) and sometimes because of laughter. Then at one point, I saw them wiping away their tears. We were watching Atlantis Theatrical’s Waitress last Friday night.

Simple story, classic music in All Out of Love

WHAT DO Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born and Resorts World Manila’s All Out of Love have in common? Besides their good music, both show the perils of the entertainment industry.

Lungs: a relatable and powerful 90-minute play

BREATHE in. Breathe out. If you don’t, you’ll run out of stamina trying to keep up with Lungs, a rapid-fire 90-minute play about lovers M (Jake Cuenca) and W (Sab Jose) who are both striving to be conscientious members of society while figuring out their personal lives, as in, planning to conceive a child.

The music is fun in Gee Gee at Waterina

THE music is queen in Gee Gee at Waterina, ang Musikal. The 11 songs, composed by Jesse Lucas, aid in the storytelling and add to the visual spectacle of the one-act play on stage.

Music and nostalgia in Eto na! Musikal nAPO!

ETO NA! Musikal nAPO! is bounded by time (it is set in 1975), but it is timeless in theme, and, of course, in music that transcends generations.

Ang Huling El Bimbo, with a smile

FILMMAKERS say that a story is good if it follows a full circle: the premise at the beginning is addressed at the ending. The premise, often confused with the plot, is the initial action of a narrative. Premise is hypothesis or the very reason why the story is being told, while plot is the story line.

The redemption of Chris Millado

By Giselle P. Kasilag Theater Review Ding, Ang Bato! By College of St. Benilde’s Arts and Culture Cluster’s Dance Program IN 2003, Chris Millado directed a highly anticipated...

Comedy for comedy’s sake

By Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman Theater Review Arsenic and Old Lace Presented by Repertory Philippines Ongoing until April 29 Onstage, Greenbelt 1, Ayala Center, Makati City REP’s Arsenic and Old...

Spamalot inspires you to always look on the bright side of...

By Michelle Anne P. Soliman Theater Review Monty Python’s Spamalot Presented by Upstart Productions Ongoing until April 22 Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, BGC Arts Center, Taguig City. KING ARTHUR,...

Rewriting the Stars

Theater Review Silent Sky Presented by Repertory Philippines Directed by Joy Virata March 16, 17, 23, 24 at 8 p.m.; March 17, 18, 24, 25 at 3:30 p.m. Onstage Theatre,...

Kinky Boots kicks again

Theater Review Kinky Boots Presented by Atlantis Productions Directed by Bobby Garcia March 16, 8 p.m., March 17 and 18, 2 and 8 p.m. Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Ayala...

Rep’s Silent Sky:Big on passion, a lot of science, and a...

By Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman, Reporter Theater Review Silent Sky Presented by Repertory Philippines Onstage, Greenbelt 1, Ayala Center, Makati City On view until March 25 THE WORDS “cerebral” and...

Twilight of the Goddesses

By Menchu Aquino Sarmiento Theater Review Manila Biennale Performance Night Feb. 22, Casa Manila, Intramuros, Manila AS ARTS MONTH this February was winding down, the first Manila Biennale...

Death, and then the laundry

By Sujata S. Mukhi Theater Review ’Night, Mother Presented by PETA Ongoing until March 18 PETA Theater Center, No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, QC “AFTER ENLIGHTENMENT, the laundry, “ is...

Humor me: A millennial’s reaction

By Nickky F. P. de Guzman, Reporter Theater Review A Comedy of Tenors Repertory Philippines Ongoing until Feb. 18 Onstage, Greenbelt 1, Ayala Center, Makati City COMEDY IS said to...

Of depression and expression

By Nickky F. P. de Guzman, Reporter Theater Review ’Night Mother Presented by PETA Feb. 2 to March 18, Fridays to Sundays The PETA Theater Center,No.5 Eymard Drive, New...

Looking for Richard in the tambakan

By Menchu Aquino Sarmiento Theater Review RD3RD: Throne of Blood Presented by Tanghalang Ateneo Directed by Anton Juan and Ricky Abad On view until Jan....

The Revolting Matilda

By Sujata S. Mukhi Theater Review Matilda the Musical Presented by Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group Directed by Bobby Garcia Ongoing until Dec. 12 Meralco Theater, Ortigas Ave., Q.C. IN THE FINAL...

Blackbird: Complex and disturbing

THEATER REVIEW Blackbird By David Harrower Presented by The Necessary Theater Directed by Topper Fabregas Sept. 8 to 10, 8 p.m., Sept. 10, 3 p.m. Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium,...

The Bible in burlesque

Theater Review Godspell Presented by MusicArtes Directed by Anton Juan May 6-21 Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Ave. corner Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City By Sujata S. Mukhi Growing up...

The Sinner is the Saint

By Sujata S. Mukhi Theater Review Agnes of God Presented by Repertory Philippines Directed by Bart Guingona Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until March 12 Onstage Theatre, Greenbelt 1, Paseo de Roxas St.,...

Eurydice: A message from my father from the afterlife

By Nina Tesoro-Poblador Theater Review Eurydice By Sarah Ruhl Presented by Tanghalang Pilipino March 3, 8 p.m.; March 4, 3 and 8 p.m.; and March 5, 3 p.m. Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, Cultural...

Sparkling comedy kicks off Rep’s 50th year

By Alicia A. Herrera Theater Review Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Directed by Bart Guingona Presented by Repertory Philippines Jan. 20 to Feb. 12 Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1, Paseo...