The Wheel and Axle

Tag: musical theater

Funny Money

by on Dec.08, 2017, under Music & Theater, Society

Tanghalang Pilipino closes out the year with the hilarious yet educational Christmas-themed play Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog, written by Eljay Castro Deldoc and directed by Abner Delina, Jr.

The title is a reference to money, with lukot-lukot referring to “crumpled” (paper bills, that is) and bilog-bilog referring to round (coins, to be exact). It is an interactive staging that seeks to provide some financial literacy to the audience while at the same time ensuring an enjoyable time for all. I went to the Press Night last weekend not knowing what to expect (especially since I just came from watching Matilda in Meralco Theater a couple of hours prior), and despite my preconceived notions about a “financial literacy comedy,” I came out very happy.

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When Children Revolt, Part 2

by on Dec.07, 2017, under Literature, Music & Theater

Continued From:

When Children Revolt, Part 1

The cast of the Atlantis production of Matilda is superb. There are three alternates who play Matilda, and I watched Uma Naomi Martin (the other two are Esang De Torres and Felicity Kyle Napuli). Uma is a talented child who superbly portrays the strengths and vulnerabilities of the lead character so that the audience truly roots for her. The best compliment to her capability is when the audience – half of which are schoolkids who likely identify with Matilda – clapped and cheered loudlt during the climactic moment when she finally put Trunchbull in her place. The children approve.

Cris Villonco is Miss Honey, and she captures the sweetness and compassion of the character to the hilt. In the hands of a lesser actress, the character of Miss Honey could have been a one-note pollayana, but Cris imbues the role with sufficient three dimensionality to make her well-realized and truly human in a world of satiric caricatures.

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When Children Revolt, Part 1

by on Dec.06, 2017, under Literature, Music & Theater

Children, especially in hordes, can be a rowdy bunch. This is just a reality of life. However, they can also be an amazing group of smart and endearing young people who can, on occasion, prove to be wiser and more mature than all the clueless and insensitive adults around them.

This is made quite apparent by Roald Dahl’s Matilda, a story about a precocious little girl – abused and unwanted by her own family – who finds empowerment (literally and figuratively) as she makes friends in a school run by a horrific headmistress.

The tale of Matilda Wormwood has been adapted for both screen and stage, and Atlantis Productions is currently doing the musical in Meralco Theater. And quite a production it is.

I came into Matilda with zero expectations. Though I’m superficially familiar with the basics, I’ve never read the book nor have I watched the critically-acclaimed film. I know almost nothing about the musical adaptation. However, one of my friends – even more of a theater enthusiast than me – watched it and said it was great. He was willing to see it with me again.

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Once Again On This Island

by on Oct.28, 2017, under Music & Theater

Once On This Island will always be one of my favorite musicals, ever. It doesn’t get as much love as a lot of the bigger Broadway classics, but it has a very loyal following throughout the decades. In the Philippines, it’s been staged both professionally as well as in various schools. I can pretty much still sing it from start to finish.

So imagine my excitement when I heard they’re doing a revival on Broadway this year, with an out-of-the-box casting bonanza as well. Aside from having the Lea Salonga, a Filipina, as the goddess Erzulie and Quentin Earl Darrington as the god Agwe, we have some gender-bending casting choices with Glee’s Alex Newell portraying the goddess Asaka and actress Merle Dandridge portraying the psychopomp Papa Ge. These are, after all, deities, so perhaps interpreting them as not conforming to human ideas of gender and sexuality is a valid point of view.

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Aurelio Postscript: Mabuhay ang Tanghalan!

by on Sep.17, 2017, under Literature, Music & Theater, Society, Travel & Culture

Because I enjoyed it so much, I watched Aurelio Sedisyo: A Rock Sarswela again. I basically book-ended the experience, having first seen it during opening night and now capping it with the closing show. And while opening night was great, the production has definitely found its footing and is even more polished.

I’ve spoken previously of the wonderful performance of the cast members, but this time I was able to watch Baron Geisler as Tikbalang. Just like the rest of the cast, he is excellent onstage. Despite the occasional difficulty of being heard (it might have been his mic), Baron has a powerful presence, perhaps more so than his alternate, that truly helps embody the personification of American Imperialism. His is an imposing antagonist, one that is disturbing, hilarious, and frightening all at the same time – a portrayal deserving of the character.

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Deliciously Seditious, Part 2

by on Sep.04, 2017, under Literature, Music & Theater, Society, Travel & Culture

Continued From:

Deliciously Seditious, Part 1

Aurelio Sedisyoso: A Rock Sarswela, beyond sedition and subversion, is also a grand zarzuela. It is a beautifully-boisterous production reminiscent of those colorful stagings of old, where drama and comedy were fused with music and choreography and, in some cases, cheeky but pointed social criticism. Simultaneously operatic and punk and everything in between, it seamlessly incorporates classic zarzuela accoutrements and traditional Tagalog song and dance with modern trappings such as rap battles, rock riffs, and hip-hop.

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Deliciously Seditious, Part 1

by on Sep.03, 2017, under Literature, Music & Theater, Society, Travel & Culture

I never thought the children’s song I Have Two Hands could ever be disturbing, but Aurelio Sedisyo: A Rock Sarswela – the latest musical from Tanghalang Pilipino – proved me wrong.

It tells the tale of playwright Aurelio Tolentino, who at the turn of the 20th century opposed the American regime in the Philippines through the mighty pen. He staged symbolic plays that condemned the colonizers as a way to continue the revolution after Emilio Aguinaldo’s capture. Together with Macario Sakay and Dominador Gomez, Tolentino was part of a triumvirate of resistance from different fronts: soldiers (Sakay), laborers (Gomez), and artists (Tolentino). Along the way, he befriends Manuel Quezon, an aspiring lawyer who believes freedom will come through political maneuvering into government, an idea that appalls Tolentino. Interspersed with the story of his cause is the story of his family, of how familial loyalties and love are tested in the midst of trials and tribulation.

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Mighty Big Boots To Fill

by on Jul.24, 2017, under Music & Theater, Queer

From Atlantis’ FB Page

2005’s Kinky Boots is one of my favorite LGBT-themed films ever. Heck, it’s one of my favorite films, period. It’s funny, touching, and uplifting all at once. This was a time before Joel Edgerton ever became Ramses and Chiwetel Ejiofor ever became Baron Mordo. The film itself is something I can watch over and over without getting tired of it.

So obviously, Kinky Boots the Musical has absolutely big shoes (boots?) to fill in my eyes. True, it won Tonys, Oliviers, a Grammy, and more. Plus, hello, Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein, duh. I have not seen it on Broadway – it’s on my bucket list – but I managed to catch the matinee of the Manila production last Saturday afternoon with my friend AJ.

The verdict?

Big shoes absolutely filled fantastically!

And such a perfect analogy, to boot (heh).

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I need a Genie.

by on Dec.12, 2016, under Music & Theater

Then again, don’t we all? (I’d like an Aladdin, too.)

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You can’t stop the beat.

by on Nov.28, 2016, under Film & TV, Music & Theater

My favorite musical makes a comeback in a different way on December 7th (US time), proving that you truly can never ever stop the beat.

Shake and shimmy, baby!

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