A Party Called Grease

Yup, "Grease" is the word...the word that transported me back to my childhood days when I fondly recall my 4-year old self holding a hairbrush for a microphone and singing along "You're the One that I Want" while going down a flight of stairs at my lola's house, imitating the song's choreography.

Now, with 9Works Theatrical's staging of the updated version of "Grease", the younger generation can watch what "Grease" is all about (in case they have never seen the movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John) while those who saw the movie and grew up with its songs can enjoy the 1950s pop culture all over again.

A powerhouse cast that is led by Gian Magdangal (Danny Zuko) and Frencheska Farr (Sandy Dumbrowski) promises to electrify its audiences and make them fall in love with the characters once more.  Joining Magdangal and Farr are Iya Villania and Jennifer Blair-Bianco (alternating as Betty Rizzo), newcomer Rafa Siguion-Reyna (Kenickie), Reb Atadero (Roger), Mark Tayag (Sonny Latierri), and Vince Lim (Doody) completes the T-bird members, while Carla Dunareanu (Marty), Peachy Atilano (Frenchie), and Sarah Facuri (Jan) rounds up the Pink Ladies.  Supporting cast members are Carlos Canlas (Johnny Cash), James Stacey (DJ Vince Fontaine), HArold Cruz (Eugene Florcyzk), Sab Jose (Patty Simcox), Angela Padilla (Miss Lynch), and Carmelle Ros and Ciara Sotto (alternating as Cha-cha Digregorio).

"You're the One that I Want"
And as for the Teen Angel who serenades Frenchie during "Beauty School Dropout," each show will feature a surprise guest for the role -- each one a notable stage, film or TV actor. The Teen Angel during the preview that I watched was Franco Laurel while JM Rodriguez, Raul Montesa and Michael de Mesa have appeared in the succeeding shows.

The Grease cast class picture
Watching the show, I couldn't help but stomp my feet, wiggle my fingers and sing-along to "Grease" favorites such as "Hopelessly Devoted to You," "Grease Lightning," and of course, "You're the One that I Want."  I really enjoyed the whole production and I must say that casting was perfect so congratulations to the artistic team led by  director Robbie Guevara and assistant director Lorenz Martinez, and to the production team led by executive producer Santi Santamaria.

Want to have a musical blast from the past? Join the gang and party with "Grease" at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City on all weekends of November until December 1, 2013, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday gala at 8 pm, Saturday matinees at 3:30 pm and Sunday matinees at 4 pm.

Colors of Hope and Unity

The Philippine flag's lively colors and spirit magnified by the show of support of the Empire State Building and Houston City Hall to the survivors of super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. To all those who are involved in the relief operations, keep the donations coming. God bless all of you and thank you.

Photos of the Empire State Building and Houston City Hall from posts in Instagram and Facebook.

Maxie: A Musical to Love

I first heard about the plans to stage the live theater adaptation of the successful indie film "Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros" last 2012 and finally, it's here!  

The theater scene welcomed Bit by Company's production of "Maxie the Musicale: Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros" as it opened to the public last November 8, 2013.  "Maxie" is the coming-of-age musical about a gay teen who is torn between his love for a young cop and his loyalty to his family.

Based on Michiko Yamamoto's screenplay (ufo Pictures, 2005), "Maxie" features book and lyrics by Nicolas B. Pichay, music by William Elvin Manzano, JJ Pimpinio and Janine Santos, and direction and choreography by Dexter M. Santos.

I know about the film but I was not able to watch it in its entirety so I had an almost blank canvass for my mind when I watched the press preview at the PETA Theater Center.  The stage design, meant to portray a slice of life in Sampaloc, Manila, was simple but every nook and cranny was utilized to its fullest with the various scenes that came to fruition.  The songs reflect the true to life events that take place daily in an oppressed neighborhood -- episodes of people trying to earn a living through decent and otherwise means.

The cast was a well-put together group that's a mix of experienced and new talents: Jayvhot Galang (Maxie), Roeder Camanag and Nazer Salcedo (alternating as Paco Oliveros, Maxie's father), Jojo Riguerra (Victor Perez, the policeman love interest of Maxie), Al Gatmaitan and OJ Mariano (alternating as Boy Oliveros, Maxie's brother) and Hay Gonzaga (Bogs Oliveros, Maxie's other brother).  The other cast members are Aaron Ching (Nar), Nomer Limatog, Jr. (Leslie), Teetin Villanueva (Monique), Eo de Guzman and Merdin Mojica (alternating as Peter), and Greg de Leon (Chief Dominguez).  The ensemble is composed of Ruth Alferez, John Paul Basco, Jules dela Paz, Irene Delarmente, Elliot Eustacio, Karyl Factora, Jim Andrew Ferrer, Francelle Fetalvero, Al Bernard Garcia, Jeffrey Hernandez, Ronah Rostata, and Christian Velarde.

14-year old Galang, who has been joining singing contests in various barangays and in a reality-search TV show, is a theater newbie.  His raw but powerful singing prowess bagged him the title role of Maxie and he joined the PETA Summer Acting Workshop to prepare for the challenges that come with the role.  As Maxie, Galang was charming, funny and seemed to belt out the songs effortlessly. Riguerra, on the other hand, was fit to the role of Victor, the young policeman who is uncorrupted by the system and Maxie's apple of the eye.

What's my favorite part of the play? Aside from the scene where Maxie meets Victor, is the BeauCon or beauty contest which is an integral thing for every community.  I love the contestants' transformation and the talent portion which was more of a production number for each candidate.  Overall, "Maxie" is a production that was conceived and staged with the heart and soul of all those involved that I didn't feel shortchanged but rather felt wanting to watch it one more time.

"Maxie the Musicale: Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros" will run until December 8, 2013, with shows on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 8 pm and matinee shows on Saturdays and Sundays at 3 pm.  All performances are at the PETA Theater Center, No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City.