Monday, February 16, 2009

Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal (Tanghalang Pilipino)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

There was a minor glitch in the galaxy light show intro because one of the comets hit one of the smaller planets, HAHAHA. But aside from that everything else was good. It makes you marvel on the ingenuity of the Filipino. We might not have Broadway's spectacular effects or the West End's amazing sets but we make do of what we have, and we create a marvelous job out of it.

Personally, I think the highlight of the show when I saw it two years ago was when Eula Valdez came out in her costume and started singing Babae na Ako. That was one spectacular number and she was amazing. There was no doubt about it, that woman could sing as well as she could act. Unfortunately for this particular show it seemed that the larger CCP venue affected the cast’s singing. Every time there was a lively musical number their voices were drowned by the much louder background music. I think that compromised a part of the show, though it was still entertaining overall.

When Eula Valdez came out in her Zaturnnah costume a collective gasp of admiration (or perhaps envy? HAHAHA!) was heard from what I bet was a predominantly gay audience. Now that is something. I think the role is perfect for her. I have not seen K Brosas, who I think would better fit the babaeng bakla label, but Eula is just a great performer. But I think the audio really is to blame. Her performance tonight was easily upstaged by the actor who played Didi. Two years ago she would not be upstaged by the loud gay sidekick, but tonight I think she was. But she was awesome nonetheless.

The actor who played Didi tonight was also the one who played the role when I saw this two years ago. The Didi character is the prohibitive scene stealer. It is in the nature of the character and the actor really just knew how to work the crowd. There was never a dull moment when he was on stage, whether he stuck to the dialogue or made his line improvisations the audience still  laughed.

The actor who played Dodong, I think, was part of the original cast when this musical started but I think his performance lacked something. Maybe it was the deep Tagalog words that made his dialogues sound fake and practiced. Not a very powerful singing voice either. At least his co actors managed to save him.

I have read in the souvenir program that the woman who played Queen Femina already had theater credits abroad such as playing Kim in Miss Saigon. I think her physique is perfect for the role of Kim, but as Queen Femina she sort of lacked the height. Kalila Aguilos two years ago had the right height and aura of intimidation appropriate for a villain. That contributed much to her stage presence as a kontrabida, but for this particular woman I think she was not appreciated much by the crowd. But still she gave a credible performance.

Kudos to Nora A and Sharon C for sticking to their roles. The girl who portrayed Vilma C went rogue all the way. The comedy in the character of the Amazonistas lies on the fact that they are spoofs of their respective namesakes. There was no trace of Vilma Santos in Vilma S' performance. She was just singing high notes like a soprano girl in a neon orange costume. Can Vilma sing that way? The audience were not amused either. Wilma Doesnt as Dina B also went rogue halfway through her performance, during the second production number when she sang and there were shattering plates as sound effects. But at least she behaved well after that and redeemed herself. Boo, Vilma S.

I liked the dance numbers specially the first one. The moves were just very Pinoy and everyone in the chorus was dancing with energy. Great show. They must have enjoyed every single bit of their performance. Looked very enjoyable.

To summarize, great show. I wish there would be more original Pinoy musicals with a lot of upbeat dance numbers. But I think the problem is still with the audience. It seems like Filipinos nowadays would not watch something unless a big star is attached to the project. So I have to commend this musical for drawing a lot of people to the theater even if Eula Valdez is the only popular celebrity in the cast.

Story-wise I think the main protagonist's introduction and conclusion fairly summarized it: Ako si Ada, isang bakla. Yun lang. That is it. Nothing much to it. So if you hate gay people (the loud variety) or neither their actions nor flamboyant demeanor can make you laugh, then this show might not be for you.

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