Friday, July 3, 2009

The Fantasticks (Repertory Philippines)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

I like the flow of the story. The first act is like the fairy tale and the second act serves as its deconstruction. The pianist and the keyboardist are awesome. The minimal musical accompaniment they provide jives well with the also minimalist set.

Luisa (Julia Abueva): It is weird but she resembles the Gonzales twins. Her voice is stunning and after reading her bio on the souvenir program I found out why. I do not know how old she really is but she effectively captures the naivety of a sixteen-year-old girl. She is the only girl in the group but she manages to stand out because of her stage presence. I think this girl would end up in Broadway one day. She is so damn good.

Matt (PJ Valerio): His performance on the second act is better than the first. It could have been flawless if not for that one big technical glitch, his mic went dead in the middle of a song! The show must go on but try as he might his voice got drowned by that of El Gallo's. Singing alone, he is good. I think the highlight of his performance is the opening ensemble song of Act 2. The problem is when he is singing a duet with Abueva, the girl's voice somehow steals his thunder. I am not saying that his voice is not good but maybe he could just polish it a little and work on sustaining the long notes. But I just love their They Were You duet. He fits the role well because he really looks like a teenager. The guyliner and the makeup bothers me though. He looks emo specially when on the spotlight.

PJ Rebullida (Mute): I have to commend this guy. I think his role is the hardest here. He mimes. He does ballet. He does not talk, but his facial expressions and movement on stage are just so full of life, so expressive, and consistent even when he is in the dark areas of the stage. The mime character is a bit annoying but I acknowledge the necessity to include him in the cast because that character actually helps set the mood and is a good supporting character to his co-actors. And Rebullida is just excellent in doing those.

Miguel Faustmann (Henry) and Red Concepcion (Mortimer): These two steal the show. They do not come out until the second half of the first act but once they do they just start working the stage and everyone ends up laughing. I love how Faustmann attacks his role as a senile theater actor, the rants, the shaky movement, and that costume during the abduction scene! Mortimer, on the other hand also has his moments. That scene in the abduction where he eventually dies borders on OA but still so freaking hilarious. And of course, his immortal line: I have been dying for twenty years ever since I was a boy! HAHAHA!

Jaime del Mundo (Matt's Father) and Dido de la Paz (Luisa's Father): These two work well as a tandem. They have onstage chemistry and their out of sync dance moves are very entertaining. And they sing well too!

Jake Macapagal (El Gallo): His voice as a narrator is very appropriate. His voice as a singer is okay although I have noticed a few instances when he had to sort of catch his breath. As the bandit I simply love his Flamenco inspired footwork.

I have not seen the original version of this musical so there is no point of comparison for me, but I find this show enjoyable so I am recommending it to everyone! Although there are some dull albeit tolerable moments, the show is mostly lively. There is nothing much to see on stage but the use of the few props available is maximized. All the actors have their own moments but as an ensemble cast they do complement one another, and I think more than anything else that is what makes this musical work.

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