Photo by Karen Zhao on Unsplash

Tara’s Yearend Theatre Round-Up

Theatre

We will be ushering in a new year in two weeks, and before I share the theatre productions I’m looking forward to in 2020, here are the rest of the shows I’ve seen in the last two quarters of 2019.

(Click here for my mid-year theatre round-up!)

Rak of Aegis

Just when I thought nothing about Rak of Aegis (June to August 2019) can surprise me, they floor me. It’s more of a personal thing, really, because the cast invited me to come up on stage during a segment of the show, and it was SO. MUCH. FUN. ^_^ Not to mention some of the cast members (*ehem* Gio Gahol *ehem*) brought our books on stage and I’m just…

Anyway.

Rak of AegisΒ remains one of my most favorite original Pinoy musicals, and I’m happy that PETA Theatre Center keeps on bringing it back. I don’t care if people are calling the show “theΒ Ang Probinsyano of local theatre,” the fact remains that so many people have yet to see it, and the number of first-timers we encounter every time we see the show is testament to that. I would love to see this show brought out of Manila, or even the country, because seriously…this is two-and-a-half hours of sheer brilliance that everyone should experience at least once.

Is this a rewatch? Yes.
Number of times seen this run: 2 (for a total of 20 since 2014)

I mean…are you still surprised? My love for this show has gone beyond its narrative and the pure talent everyone in the cast and staff have invested in it, and I don’t think I’m going to stop singing its praises anytime soon. For an earlier review, click here.

Dani Girl

View this post on Instagram

When nine-year old Dani loses her hair to cancer, she copes by playing games with her guardian angel/imaginary friend, Raphael. Upon learning she only needed to learn the answer to "Why is cancer?" to get her hair back, she goes on a magical (imaginary) adventure with her new hospital ward neighbor-slash-friend, Marty, and her trusty Mr. Fritz. 🐻 Equal parts whimsical and heartbreaking, #DaniGirlMNL was a look into how a child and her mother cope with varying degrees of loss, and eventually find acceptance and peace with the inevitable. β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € Becca Coates was amazing as the titular character, Dani, perfectly capturing the wide-eyed innocence of a child living with cancer. And did I mention she's so lovely to listen to? Her voice was clear as crystal, and a million times more heartbreaking during Requiem for a Bear. 🐻😭 Oh! And Juliene Mendoza was so, so good as Raph/Father/Cancer/God, by the way! #DaniGirlMNL runs at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium (RCBC Plaza, Makati) until September 1 only! β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars . . . . . #musicals #musicaltheatre #philippinetheatre #thesandboxcollective #danigirl #followthatbear

A post shared by Tara Frejas (@tarafrejas) on

I missedΒ Dani Girl (August 2019) the last time it was staged, but I made sure to catch the show this time around. And oh, man…did it put my heart through the wringer. I mean, I already knew it was going to be emotional considering its synopsis, but the way the story unfoldedβ€”the emotional bits just hit you straight in the gut when you least expect it. Requiem for a Bear made me want to sob like nobody’s business.

(Oh god, I’m tearing up while listening to it now, jeez.)

Is this a rewatch? No.
Number of times watched this run: 1

review 4 stars
Heartwrenching as this show was, I enjoyed the parts where Dani got to be a kidβ€”with her wild imagination and playful spirit taking her on colorful journeys. Apart from stellar performances by Becca Coates and Juliene Mendoza, I loved the set dressing and the lighting for this one, too. <3

Company

View this post on Instagram

Ah, yes. Nothing quite like a musical about being single around your coupled-up lifelong friends to remind you of how single af you are. πŸ˜… Been curious about Stephen Sondheim's Company since Aaron Tveit played Bobby in 2017, so it's nice to have been able to see it last night. It was also nice to see OJ Mariano play a happier character after a string of heavy, angsty ones. And did I mention he dances here, too? πŸ˜‚ Grabe siya o, pa-triple threat na e! Charot! . . Other things of note: πŸŽ‚ The amazing cast and their powerful vocals are *chef's kiss* Special mention must go to Cathy Azanza-Dy and Maronne Cruz for their portrayals of Amy and April. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ πŸŽ‚ THE BAND! Oh my gosh the band playing live music during the show was superb. I found myself watching them a couple of times during the show, and I felt so happy to see at least three (?) of them were ladies! ❀ (Not sure if it was a matter of where we were seated though, but sometimes the music overwhelmed the cast's voices. πŸ˜₯) πŸŽ‚ As you can see from the photo, that thrust stage in the center with the six benches and the lights overhead comprises the rest of the set design, and it just WORKED for me. Proves you don't need an elaborate set just to get a story across, what with a wonderful material and an amazing cast. πŸŽ‚ Gigil ako sa Being Alive ni OJ. It felt like an attack, chos. Hashtag YAWQNAH. πŸ˜‚ . . ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars. . . Congratulations to Topper Fabregas the entire company of #CompanyUpstart2019! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘β€ They run only until tonight at the Maybank Performing Arts Theatre in Bonifacio Global City! Tickets are available at Ticketworld. Or check out @ojmariano's recent post for showbuyer details. . . . . . #musicals #musicaltheatre #philippinetheatre #sondheim #company #maybankperformingartstheatre #upstartmanila

A post shared by Tara Frejas (@tarafrejas) on

Okay, first of all…

I have a habit of reading up on show that are unfamiliar to me before I go and see them so that I’ll have a basic understanding of what I’m about to experience, but I didn’t expectΒ Company (September 2019) to slap me in the face so rudely. Sigh. Singlehood is so uncomplicated and light and it brings me so much happiness, but sometimes it’s so…difficult, yanno? (CHOS, drama!) Anyway thanks, Show, for making me want to throw things whenΒ Being Alive came on. I’ve heard the song before but like…to listen to it in the context of the story is just something else. I felt it. And it didn’t help that it was OJ Mariano singing it, because he always nails these emotional songs with just the right amount of emotion and fragility. Kaasar.

Is this a rewatch? No.
Number of times watched this run: 1

review 4 stars
It bears repeating: Cathy Azanza-Dy was amazing in this show. Perhaps the only thing that kept me from enjoying it fully was the acoustics inside the theatre. Something to improve on, I guess, Maybank Performing Arts Theatre?

Almost, but not quite.

I’ve attended some shows and events this year that are related to theatre somehow, but are actually not quite plays or musicals. I’ve included them here anyway, because I felt like sharing how wonderful the experience was for me.

ONS: Mula sa Buwan

ONS stands forΒ One Night Stand, a once-a-month cabaret featuring the brightest stars of Philippine theatre. I’ve seen quite a few ONSs before, and I really appreciate what the people behind it are doingβ€”putting the spotlight on talent a lot of people might be missing and giving them a platform to showcase what they can do. Last October, they featured the cast of one of my favorite Pinoy musicals, Mula sa Buwan.

View this post on Instagram

So blessed to have witnessed this #MulaSaBuwan mini reunion. I just knew I *HAD* to see it because there will be no reruns this year, and I do miss the music and the magic of this original Filipino musical. Loved the new songs, wish I could listen to them soon on Spotify. I've loved the Songs Inspired by Mula Sa Buwan since I've listened to them last year, and it was such a treat to see/hear them performed by the artists who created them. πŸ₯° And I will always, ALWAYS love the anthems. ❀❀❀ Sorry, Maxie ONS…I think I've found my new favorite ONS (but you're not far behind)! 😁 (Check out my IGTV videos for clips of the performances that night!) . . . Now, how to get over this night? #MinsanSaBuwan #MulaSaBuwONS

A post shared by Tara Frejas (@tarafrejas) on

What I loved about it: The energy of the cast and the palpable love and respect they have for one another shining through with every performance, theΒ Songs Inspired by Mula sa Buwan, old and new (please put up these songs on Spotify too!), and the stories of some of the cast members about theirΒ Mula sa Buwan journey.

Himala: Anatomy of a Scene

I very rarely use Facebook anymore, but I am so thankful I opened that app when I did and saw Jef Flores advertising this Anatomy of a Scene Masterclass. At that point, I was already doubtful I’d be able to secure tickets toΒ Himala: Isang Musikal because my mom and I couldn’t agree on a date and tickets were selling out super fast. Thank goodness for this Masterclass, I was able to catch a glimpse of Cupang again, albeit through the eyes and mind of director Ed Lacson, Jr.

View this post on Instagram

Yesterday, we attended the Himala: Anatomy of a Scene Masterclass facilitated by Himala: Isang Musikal director Ed Lacson, Jr., and I had so much fun learning more about the processes behind creating effective visual narratives. So glad I logged in on Facebook and saw @listentojef's post about this, else we'd have missed this amazing experience. Got us wishing we could see the inner workings of some of our other favorite stage productions, too. ❀ Himala: Isang Musikal runs at the Power Mac Center Spotlight until this Sunday, October 20. Tickets are selling out SUPER FAST, so go and check out @thesandboxco for showbuyer details now. #HimalaIsangMusikal2019 . . . . . #theatre #philippinetheatre #musicaltheatre #musicals #originalpilipinomusical #originalfilipinomusical #Himala #HimalaIsangMusikal #thesandboxcollective

A post shared by Tara Frejas (@tarafrejas) on

What I loved about it: How immersive it was.Β If I were to describe this experience in one sentence, it would beβ€”

Himala: Anatomy of a Scene is like watching a DVD commentary, except you’re watching a play, and the commentary is happening right in front of you.

We paid P300 pesos for this session, and somewhere in the middle of it my friends and I all agreed this experience was worth more. As someone who’s really interested in plays and musicals, seeing the inner workings of a director’s mind was very enlightening. And also extremely useful, even if my storytelling medium is very different. How I wish we could get something like this for all the productions I love. I’d probably be the happiest audience member ever.

Pinoy Playlist 2019

Pinoy Playlist is a six-day music festival showcasing the best upcoming and popular acts in the Filipino music industry. National artist Ryan Cayabyab, together with Moy Ortiz, Noel Ferrer, and Maribel Garcia began this endeavor last year, and due to its massive success, they decided to do it again this year! (And thank goodness, because my schedule last year was I N S A N E and I failed to catch even one show!)

What I loved about it: The lineup, the music. How straightforward it was. Every act only had about 45 minutes on stage, but precisely because the sets were so short, they were also packed with the best songs. (Sidenote: I love Ebe Dancel’s music with all my heart, and I could watch/listen to that man sing for hours, but the 45 minutes he gave us that day was so precious, given how much anxiety he had before the show. I nearly cried while he told us during his set that his week had been so busy that he almost couldn’t get out of bed that day, and still…he showed up. And that was everything.)

I’m so looking forward to next year’s Pinoy Playlist. I really hope my schedule then will be better than this year so I can plan properly. I need to watch more OPM artists!!! <3

And now, for my 2020 theatre list:

So stoked for what else is in store for next year. Until then, see you at the theatre! <3


Care for a theatre romance? In Waiting in the Wings, a single-since-birth theatre actress gets caught up in a love triangle with the company’s in-house choreographer, and a theatre legacy-turned-mainstream actor. Get it on Amazon for only $2.99, or, if you’re living in the Philippines and would like a copy, you may place an order here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *