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.