Ateneo wins over Mapua and La Salle defeats San Beda, which simply means an ADMU-DLSU showdown at the NCAA finals. Tommy (Jeremy Aguado) is the star player of the Green Archers while his cousin Paco (OJ Mariano) is the star player of the Blue Eagles, which gives them enough reason to loathe each other. However, this rivalry really goes way back. Their fathers’ loyalty to blue and green turns every family reunion into an extension of the court side drama, something their wives do not comprehend because according to them, it is just a game after all. Quito (Felix Rivera), Paco’s younger brother, shares the same sentiment and serves as the buffer between his kuya and his cousin. There is only one other person he is crazy about aside from Don Quijote: Reena (Ashley Immler), the girl from Maryknoll. Set in 1968, Rivalry Ateneo-La Salle the Musical takes the competition from the basketball courts onto the stage. With lively song and dance numbers and funny dialogues, they give you their rather hilarious take on how all of this started, and on how the drama never stays just within the walls of Araneta.
The more enjoyable scenes come right after the intermission, from that rally planning scene involving Joel Trinidad and his spot-on delivery of his sarcastic lines, such as the unforgettable Oh, he’s a La Sallite? No wonder he can’t read. What are you laughing at? You’re Ateneans, you can’t count! all the way to Felix Rivera’s I am not stalking you verbal diarrhea sequence. Wait, do not forget Noel Trinidad’s turn as the family patriarch who tells his own version of how the rivalry started, all while singing and dancing with a cane. He sure brought the house down with that one, especially with his finale punch line. The acting is decent, although some of them, particularly the girls, were too unnaturally perky that they seemed more like high school students than colegialas. They sprinkle some Tagalog in the dialogues which gives you some sort of reverse coño effect that does not fail to entertain.
Rivera as the love-struck torpe is cool, and serves as the anchor to hold on to for members of the audience who also did not get into the whole basketball craze and dealt more with problems regarding social skills back in college. Aguado gets more time onstage than Mariano because of the love triangle he forms part of. The two of them are believable as cousins and rivals and they do a good job in singing and dancing while doing some push-ups and crunches. That must have been challenging. Kudos! Immler as Reena is aesthetically pleasing to look at and sings astonishingly well, but her character is quite boring and only comes out onstage to sing and rant about love, which gets repetitive after a while. We get it. Girl’s got some first world problems.
It is hard to say if this musical would succeed in terms of audience attendance. The story is laudable and you just could not help but commend the effort of those who conceptualized everything. The thing is, this might be too artsy for avid sports fans to stomach. Sure, the main theme here is the rivalry which stems primarily from basketball, but this is a musical, and those two do not seem to go together well, at least if you observe the trends and the two different kinds of people who patronize one over the other. If you are from either school you might appreciate this because you would get most, if not all, of the humor grounded on the culture propagated in both. On the contrary, you might also want to just skip it since you already lived this once in your lifetime, unless you are a true blue fan of both basketball and theater and you would like to view the rivalry issue in another light. If you belong in neither of the two universities, you might feel alienated even though this musical would definitely help you understand where all the fuss is coming from.
There are many scenes that are well thought of such as that riot scene where the members from both teams add to the commotion one by one and then freeze for a diorama effect while bathed in blue and green lights. The press conference scene has a feel similar to that of Chicago’s We Both Reached for the Gun, and is a perfect representation of the effects the rivalry has on the players and its role in society as a social phenomenon glorified by the media. The songs do not leave much of an impact but serve their purpose well by really capturing the essence of each scene in the lyrics, eliminating the need for extra dialogue just to deliver a point across.