Sunday, September 5, 2010

Xanadu (Atlantis Theatrical)


Xanadu gives you a nostalgia for the roller disco days you never had. Too bad it only runs for under two hours, although that is already sufficient for one to enjoy the show. The souvenir program is a little bit pricier than usual, but you get a CD along with the book. The sad thing is that it does not contain the whole soundtrack, only about five songs by Rachel Alejandro.

The story follows the simple immortal-falls-in-love-with-mortal formula, and to where the plot is headed is obvious from the beginning. What makes the show interesting is that it gives you the illusion that you are back in the eighties, making you feel as if you have once lived it too even if in reality you were still in diapers watching Voltes Five on IBC-13 back then. Okay, technically you did but were too young to actually identify with such a bygone era.

The set is minimal, a few Doric columns here and there, and a mural rendered artistically via colored image projection. There are seats onstage for some members of the audience, craftily made to look like bleachers at a Greek Auditorium. The cast interacts with the said part of the audience once in a while, and the what-the-F reactions on their faces are priceless. But kudos to them for displaying sportsmanship under such intimidating scenarios. The disco balls are awesome, specially the big one at the center. The way it disperses rays of light is magical. Or maybe all disco balls do that. How should I know.

A very big applause for Rachel Alejandro who has to: act, sing, dance, and switch accents; all while on her quad skates (90% of her performance on stage is done like that). Then add that sense of paranoia that she might push a bit too hard and fall off the stage, whew! Great job. She makes it look so easy.

Felix Rivera is okay as a muscle-bound oaf. He has good comic timing and wow, can he sing! And he does so without looking like a vein on his neck would pop. Effortless. His performance here further solidifies his status as Philippine theater's Golden Boy.

The rest of the cast are not to be outdone. Actually, the ensemble songs are the ones that draw attention here. Whether a duet or a group effort, all you hear is a smooth blending of voices. They do add to the aesthetic value of the show. It is also nice to see people from behind the scenes hitting the stage. From the very moment Chari Arespacochaga comes out of the mural you would know at once that you are in for a great show. Her rapport with Yael Alano Pineda is so good that their tandem as the plump wicked sisters of Muse Clio yields one of the best-received performances of the night. One could easily tell by the crowd's applause.

The support cast is just as strong and gain their own respective moments through the show's less than two-hour run. Glen Llanes gets the crowd laughing hard as: Hermes, with his snappy Bitch, I don't know your life! line, and as a one-time centaur joining the ensemble cast in the Have You Ever Been Mellow number. Anthony Tarrosa Ong dances wonderful Tap in a flashback sequence. Underrated perhaps based on audience impact, but one certainly knows when tapping a wooden floor produces music, and when it just produces noise. His is obviously not noise, at least to my ears. Alys Andrea Serdenia and Bea Garcia sort of fade away as muses when next to the other two duos, but they do get their fair share of attention during their turn as Hera and Thetis, respectively.

It has been a while since Noel Trinidad has been visible on TV, or maybe I just missed him, if he did appear recently, but it is definitely the first time that I have seen him onstage. That is when it dawned on me: Hey, I have seen that acting style on stage before! Joel Trinidad! Wait, they are both Trinidads and they look alike. Father and son? Well, so does the souvenir program confirm. Their being equally talented onstage does so too.

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