One of the most timeless romances is that of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet in the William Shakespeare tragedy Romeo and Juliet. The sad tale of the star-crossed lovers is so universal that it has been referenced and adapted countless of times. One of the most enduring adaptations is the musical West Side Story, which is currently in Manila for an international tour.
2017 is a great time to be a fan of theater. This year alone, both Repertory Philippines and the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) celebrated its 50th anniversary, and many productions are being staged. Apart from the booming local theater scene, more and more touring companies are visiting Manila. Just this February, Wicked came to give us a “thrillifying” performance. Now, West Side Story will charm us as it is set to open this August!
Last year, I declared that Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical’s A Christmas Carol was the best local theater production I’ve seen… ever. That title is now with Newsies, which coincidentally, is also a collaboration between the two companies.
Spectacle seems to be a keyword for Globe Live. It’s a word that perfectly defined A Christmas Carol, with an incredibly talented cast that delivered soaring vocals that sent shivers down my spine. They recreated the pageantry in the musical Newsies, where they demanded that each actor should be able to act, sing, and dance.
Who can ever forget the iconic scene in Sister Act where Whoopi Goldberg led a choir of nuns in singing “I Will Follow Him”? I loved the movie (and its sequel) growing up, so imagine how joyful, joyful I felt when I heard that the musical adaptation will be flying to Manila for a limited run.
When it comes to plays in the Philippines, the leading name in English-language theater is Repertory Philippines. They are behind some of the country’s best plays, having produced 443 productions since it started in 1967. Yes, the company has been around for 50 years and they celebrated their golden anniversary with a lavish gala at The Theatre at Solaire.
REP: 50 Years of Telling Stories pays tribute to its history by inviting its current roster of talents and alumni to weave together the company’s story. It covers every aspect of producing a show, from narration to music, choreography, producers, performers, comedians, set designers, and directors.
Last Thursday, I was invited to a backstage tour of Cirque du Soleil’s Toruk: The First Flight, an acrobatic performance inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar. As I mentioned in the story I wrote about my tour, seeing the Mall of Asia Arena without the bells and whistles of the show was like looking at a penguin enclosure, as it was just a massive gray slab. But when the curtains were pulled back during opening night, I was left breathless.
I watched the first show of Cirque du Soleil’s Toruk: The First Flight last night and fell in love with how they transformed the Mall of Asia Arena into Pandora, the moon where the Na’vi live. It was a visually spectacular show mixed with gravity-defying acrobatics. Before I saw Toruk, I was given the opportunity to do a backstage tour and see how they produce everything.
One of the things I like to do when I’m tired (like the past few days) is to listen to Newsies‘ “Seize the Day” on full blast. I love it because it’s such an empowering song about courage, unity, and standing up for one’s beliefs set amidst a booming score. So imagine my joy when it was announced that Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical are partnering to bring Newsies to Manila! It made me want to shout “strike!”