Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Love You Because (Repertory Philippines)

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Like they say on the website it is a modern re-telling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I do not know Jane Austen so I have no idea how loyal this adaptation is to the book. As a musical it was good but there were some dull moments, and there was no song that really made an impression.

The comedy in this musical comes from the dialogue, both the witty and the funny. The punch lines were delivered on time and the delivery itself was commendable.

It is a musical and though the musical performances lacked recall I would say that the actors did a great job. The cast can sing and they did so well enough. There was one scene when Diana was explaining her theory about relationships and numbers. She was not singing, just talking fast but every syllable was in unison with the musical accompaniment. It was awesome for the ears. And she was doing all that while acting and moving around. Kudos to the actress.

My favorite portrayal would be that of Jeff's role. He was the player in the play, not willing to commit to relationships. His lines were comic because he always ended up saying the wrong things like albatross instead of abacus and also because of the far-fetched half reasoning he did when trying to get away with something wrong that he had done. But the actor kind of struggled with the songs, paled in comparison with the rest of the cast. But he seemed to be enjoying every second he had on stage, and the audience always laughed when he said something funny.

The thing with Repertory Philippines is that it is almost always a Broadway adaptation. The actors are crisp and clean performance-wise. Their American accents are consistent and they portray their roles well. The thing is that every action seems calculated. I think this is where the intelligent actor versus talented actor debate comes in. They are intelligent actors with clean performances but that's about it. I think I could describe it better as SAFE. And safe could be sometimes boring. It is always as if you can predict what is going to happen or be said next. There is no spontaneity unlike in other productions. No thrill.

The best performance came from the barista/Chinese waiter. He was just full of energy. While he managed to smoothly pull off different roles I think he still brought the mannerisms of one when shifting to the other. But other than that he was actually good and was one of the comic reliefs of the show. His role was short, he did it well but without stealing the limelight from the leads. His partner was also a terrific singer and dancer though some of her movements were kind of exaggerated.

What distracted me was the simultaneous changing of sets and the performance scenes. The spotlight was on the actor singing but you see the other cast members moving sets around. I think this is where an actor's stage presence is tested. I do not know if what they did here was a new trend or maybe that is really just how the play is supposed to be done. It was distracting but I appreciate the way it was done because the actors themselves were moving the sets around and their facial expressions were consistent with the current mood of the scene.

I think watching this musical is a good way of spending the Valentines weekend. Better if you watch it with your significant other. It is, after all, a musical about love, with the singing and the dancing. It is not that great but it is fun. So catch it before its run ends first week of March. Still a production worth the admission price, in my opinion.

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