Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rent (9 Works Theatrical)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

The thing about Rent is that it has universal appeal. It is all about the message, and the songs. When the actors start singing the tunes their faces disappear and you just hear the music, because in reality you are one of those characters, trying to find a meaning for your own life.

La Vie Boheme has a different appeal when seen onstage. It has that certain magic that the onscreen version seems to have been unable to capture. It is more engaging, perhaps owing to the fact that it is performed here live, and the candidness of it all makes it one of the most memorable musical numbers of the show. On the other hand, Angel's Today 4 U seems to lack the appeal of the onscreen version, although the choreography and energy seems all the same. Strange. It is really not good to compare the two. Both mediums seem to have an advantage of its own over the other.

Mark Cohen could well be considered as the face of Rent. He serves as the narrator of his friends' stories as well as his own. Fredison Lo has all the mannerisms of the character nailed. It is obvious that he has really studied the role. He just has to loosen up a bit. From the start of the show up to the Rent number, there is something off about him, as if he would commit an error anytime. Good thing is that he just lets go and starts being Mark in the Tango Maureen number, starting off with that awkwardly cute dance move. Perhaps he would be able to deliver a more polished performance during the last few shows.

Maybe it is just the character, but Gian Magdangal seems to only have one facial expression all throughout the play. He sings like he is in a concert, or maybe that is just how it should be because Roger used to belong in a band. Some of his movements onstage seem calculated. Worse, it seems he has no chemistry at all with Cara Barredo who plays Mimi. But in terms of vocals there are no complaints here. Nice voice, but maybe adding some emotion to it by feeling the song could add more to the successful portrayal of the character.

Cara Barredo is how someone would imagine Alessandra da Rossi could be if she could belt and decided to do musical theater. Semblance aside, Cara is a joy to watch as Mimi because she seems to have imbibed the vibrancy of a genuinely slutty pole dancer. She has the moves and the voice, but again maybe she could loosen up a bit, specially in the Out Tonight number. It sounds as if she is holding back and not using the best of her belting capabilities. It would be nice to here her just hit the note in the Awoo segment of the song and support it with a strong vibrato.

Carla Guevara Laforteza is well worth the wait as Maureen. Her Over the Moon solo is the most applauded part of the whole play. The audience simply cracks up every time she does something wild as the animated visual aids flash through the projector on one side. She also has that whole Idina growling thing going on here. To some hardcore fans she might just seem like a copycat. But I would say that she actually nails it.

It is funny how OJ Mariano and Job Bautista, as Collins and Angel, have more chemistry than Magdangal and Barredo could ever wish they had.

They all fall flat in their rendition of Seasons of Love. In fact only Ring Antonio does a good job singing the big voice parts of the song. Or maybe the original Broadway cast just made quite a big impression with the original version that every other cover just sounds trying hard.

Overall, the reviews for this particular production of Rent are quite lukewarm. People who have seen other versions are complaining that this pales in comparison; but they also agree that this one is just okay if it is your first onstage Rent experience. It is indeed my first, and I agree with them.

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