Soon after Blackbox Productions’ Mula sa Buwan returned for a two-weekend run last February 18, I saw social media posts comparing the musical to the recently-released Jollibee “Vow” ad. But while the trope was definitely similar, the Cyrano de Bergerac retelling was SO much more than that. (In millenial-speak, it was simply SO EXTRA.)
This December 2016 review of Mula sa Buwan will tell you just how much I loved the show when I first saw it, and just when I thought I couldn’t possibly fall in love with it a little more, they went ahead and proved me wrong. I love it when that happens.
First of all, that stage! Man, I was already pretty cool about the minimalist set-up of the December run, but I was pleasantly surprised by what they did to the design this time around. The added layers to the set provided a more dramatic texture to the “big picture,” and the movable pieces looked more polished. The additional light fixtures made certain scenes more festive and intimate. I was already swooning when I saw the photos on the show’s official Facebook page, and seeing it in person simply felt like Christmas morning.
Lighting design was also fabulous. Correct me if I’m wrong, but they definitely did something new with it, didn’t they? (I’ve only seen the show twice this run, so I might be wrong.) And yes!!! The show didn’t feel like it dragged at some parts anymore. Each scene flowed nicely to the next, which made me feel like the show was a bit shorter this time around. (Again, I could be wrong.)
And the music–oh the music–STILL all sorts of lovely. I rejoiced when they announced a cast recording was being produced, and the first thing I did when I arrived at the venue last Saturday, February 25th, was to buy a CD. (And then we played it in my friend’s car on the way out of Ateneo. Like the fools that we are. Na para bang hindi pa sapat yung heartbreak.) It’s such a steal for P250, butbutbut dare I wish for a FULL cast recording as well? I mean… there’s a full cast recording for Maxie, the Musicale, right? Surely there could be one for Mula sa Buwan. <3
I failed to catch Boo Gabunada again during this run (drats!), but I’ve seen tweets and posts lauding him for his performance as Cyrano. I will see you wear that infamous nose someday, too! And hopefully soon. Meanwhile, Nicco Manalo as Cyrano is STILL everything. His performance has been in my mind since I saw the show in December, and now that I’ve seen it again, I will constantly remember it as one of the best portrayals of a character I’ve ever seen. I was constantly in awe of his stage presence and the way he delivers his (sometimes very long) lines was nothing short of brilliant. I live for his final monologue. If they could record that and include it in a full cast recording I would be an extremely happy fangirl.
Beautiful and utterly talented KL Dizon‘s voice never fails to
make me lose my shit amaze me. She sings a note and I get goosebumps all over just like that. I kid you not, during the 3pm show on the 25th, she was just singing the notes to the very first song and there were already tears in my eyes. God. I lovelovelove her wide-eyed innocence in Awit ni Roxane, but her tortured rendition of Ang Sabi Nila was sublime. I swear… every time I hear her sing it, it feels like she’s ripping my heart open. And oh, did you know she doesn’t have an alternate? Gosh. That. Is. Tough.
Edward Benosa showed a lot of improvement as Christian, and I was pleasantly surprised. Not that he was bad the first time, though. He seemed to have embraced the character more this time and added a few more quirks here and there. I loved that little jig he and Cyrano did during Tinig sa Dilim that seeing the gesture being reprised during Act 2 pretty much broke me. Enough for me to whimper, yes. Congratulations.
Also, FINALLY!!! I got to see Fred Lo as Christian! <3 He lent a more confident air to the character, in that he knows his limitations in terms of his capacity to spew poetry out of nowhere, but he also knows he’s a capable guy who deserved Roxane as much as anyone. I like that small, vulnerable moment he has in Act 2 after Roxane admits she fell for him first because of his looks. It plays off nicely in the context of the previous scene (Matatapos Din) where he steps up and brings the cadets together after a misunderstanding. It’s like he’s finally found his footing and then, BAM, he breaks. I love it. *cue fangirl giggle*
I also have to say that the Mula sa Buwan ensemble rocked like WOAH. If they were great in the December run, they were even more awesome this time around. Their energy felt electric and provided the audience a richer experience. Shoutout to Ronah Rostata (who played Rosanna) for her spirited Manifesto performance. Also, thanks for adding a crack to my already shattered heart during Mula sa Buwan/Ikaw, and that goodbye scene in Act 2. Okay, I’m tearing up just thinking about it now. Gah.
Mula sa Buwan closed last Sunday, February 26, but I’m sure I’m not the only one wishing for a rerun. Here’s why it needs one:
- It’s not just a love story. Looking past the romance angle, Mula sa Buwan is also a musical that honors the unsung heroes of our country, and I think it’s as important that this message comes across as well, especially to the younger generation. It’s not just a love story between people in love. It’s also a love story between a country and its citizens. I think that’s a story that’s always worth telling.
- It cultivates love for the Filipino language. The writing is excellent–from the script to the music–and more people should be exposed to it because contrary to what some people believe, Filipino is such a beautiful, heartfelt language. I think teachers should bring their students to the theatre to see this, and maybe do a follow-up lesson in if the vocabulary gets too much for them to handle. I’m serious. Please teach our kids Filipino. Proper Filipino for that matter.
- It’s just an amazing show. I think there’s something for everyone here. Music lovers will love the songs, dance aficionados will enjoy the choreography–there’s so much to see, hear, and feel, it would be such a shame if only a few people were blessed with such a thing of beauty. <3
- Improve sound tech. The Saturday 3pm show had minor technical glitches which could be easily dismissed, but I’m so sorry to say that the sound was atrocious during closing night. We were seated way, way back (very near the tech booth, actually) and we could NOT hear Cyrano and Christian’s lines for maybe 10 minutes in Act 2. Mics were either off or malfunctioning. There was awful feedback and static. And it happened at such a critical part of the story too that it made me wonder if first-time audiences were able to understand what was happening at that point in the show.
- Bring the show to a smaller venue if possible. I’m not sure where. Maybe PETA or Power Mac Spotlight Center? Or the Maybank Theatre (not sure how small that is, though)? This is both out of preference and necessity maybe, because I like smaller venues for their intimacy, plus whenever an unfortunate sound glitch happens, the actors’ voices can still be heard up to the balcony (I know this to be true for the PETA Theater Center) if they speak loud enough. That’s harder to achieve in such a huge venue.
- FULL. CAST. RECORDING. ^_^ I’ll buy it. Even if I already have the current recording, I’ll still buy it.
Intermission // Quick fangirl story
Back when I posted my first Mula sa Buwan review, I’ve been able to receive messages from director Pat Valera and composer William Elvin Manzano, and that was SUPER COOL. Nicco Manalo takes the cake though (for being so extra, lol), because he told me to introduce myself should we see each other during the rerun, and I did, and he actually looked happy to see me! <3 He asked for my name when I asked him to sign my CD. I said “Tara,” and he was all like “TARAAAAAAA!” and then he gave me a hug! I was so happy he remembered! And then we proceeded to take a selfie (the only matinong selfie I got that day) and he said “I-tag mo ako ha,” and oh oh my poor fangirl heart was just all over the place after that. It was a wonder how I even got to approach Edward Benosa after that. Maybe that explains why our selfie was SO MESSED UP.
So yeah. Thank you so much, Nicco. You’ve made a happy fangirl out of me. ^_^
Mula sa Buwan felt even more magical this time around, with a brand-spanking new set, beautiful lighting and costume design, and a cast that’s brimming with talent. Congratulations to everyone who was part of this show, and I know for sure magkikita-kitang muli tayo sa buwan, sooner or later. Now let me listen to the cast recording one (million) more time(s).
Show photos taken from the Mula sa Buwan official Facebook page.