Tara’s Yearend Theatre Round-Up

Photo by Karen Zhao on Unsplash

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

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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…


Rak of Aegis 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 “the 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

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I missed 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 unfolded—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 kid—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


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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 expect 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 when 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 for 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 doing—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.

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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, the 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 their 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 to 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.

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What I loved about it: How immersive it was. If I were to describe this experience in one sentence, it would be—

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!)

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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.

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Tara’s 2019 Mid-Year Theatre Round-Up

Photo by Karen Zhao on Unsplash

Most of the people who know me know I’m a sucker for a good theatre production. Thing is, I kind of suck at writing reviews lately, that most of my thoughts about the shows I’ve seen this year were only confined to Instagram posts. And since we’ve reached the halfway mark of 2019 (ALREADY?!?), I’ve decided to do a mid-year theatre round-up! <3

Here are the musicals and plays I’ve seen this year:

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Changing Partners has returned to the PETA Theater Center!

Following its successful transition into film, the critically acclaimed and award-winning musical CHANGING PARTNERS is returning to the stage this May at the PETA Theater Center.

The Journey

According to multi-awarded composer and writer Vincent A. DeJesus, the book, libretto, and music of Changing Partners were inspired by his own personal stories and of his friends. When asked how long it took him to write this piece his reply was, “A lifetime.”

Changing Partners was first presented in a full-house, one-night only Stage Reading at the Virgin Labfest in July 2016. The Virgin Labfest, spearheaded by the Writers’ Bloc Inc., is a festival of new plays by emerging and established Filipino playwrights held annually at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). The staged reading featured actors Ricky Ibe, Patricia Ismael, Giannina Ocampo, and Sandino Martin and was directed by Director Rem Zamora.

Two months after, DeJesus and Zamora came together once again to produce the full production of  Changing Partners: A Torch Musical. Produced by DeJesus and the PETA Theater Center, the musical was staged at the 115-seater PETA Theater Center’s Studios in September and October 2016. Actors Agot Isidro, Jojit Lorenzo, Anna Luna, and Sandino Martin starred in the play, while DeJesus was the musical director and provided live piano accompaniment. About the same time, The Bindlestiff Studio in California, U.S.A. produced and performed the musical as part of its Tagalog Theater Festival and featured Fil-American actors. Several weeks after, DeJesus submitted the script to the Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature where it received a Best Full-Length Play award. In November and December 2016, the musical went back onstage and had another successful rerun at the PETA Theater Center Studios.

In November 2017, Changing Partners: A Torch Musical transitioned from being a theater musical to full feature film. Under the direction of blockbuster movie director, Dan Villegas, the film starred the same cast as the full musical theater production and was a film entry at the 2017 Cinema One Originals Film Festival. Changing Partners – The Movie won eight awards: Best Director (Villegas), Best Actress (Isidro), Best Actor (Lorenzo), Best Acting Ensemble (Isidro, Lorenzo, Luna, Martin), Best Editing (Marya Ignacio), Best Music (DeJesus), Audience Choice Award, and Champion Bughaw for Best Film. Because of its success and critical acclaim, Changing Partners – The Movie was given a nationwide commercial release in January 2018. The movie also released the Changing Partners – The Movie Original Soundtrack on Spotify. Produced by Star Records, select song from the musical movie were covered by Star Music artists KZ Tandingan, Jona Viray, Khalil Ramos, and Daryl Ong. In February 2018, it won big at the 34th Movie Press Club of the Philippines – Star Awards 2018, bagging five awards under the Independent Film Category: Best Film, Best Director (Villegas), Best Screenwriter (DeJesus and co-writer Lilit Reyes), Best Editing (Marya Ignacio), and Best Music (DeJesus).

A New Offering

Looking at its track record, Changing Partners seems to be moving in the fast lane. In the span of less than two years, it has impressively achieved what would normally take about a decade, or more, to reach. But the team behind this gut-wrenching, anti-romcom musical is not slowing down anytime soon. They are taking Changing Partners to another level by bringing it to a bigger stagethe 400-seater PETA-Phinma Theater.

Agot Isidro, Jojit Lorenzo, Anna Luna, and Sandino Martin are returning to reprise their roles, and Director Rem Zamora is again directing. DeJesus will be joined by cellist Poch Gutierrez to provide live music accompaniment. Another addition to the close-knit team is production designer Ben Padero, who also designed the set of PETA’s adaptation of Marsha Norman’s “Night, Mother.”

CHANGING PARTNERS: THE STAGE MUSICAL just opened its two-weekend run at the PETA-Phinma Theater, PETA Theater Center last Friday, May 11. Make sure to catch the show on May 19-20, at 3:00 and 8:00 pm.

Ticket prices are Php1500 (VIP), Php1300 (Orchestra Center), Php1000 (Orchestra Sides), Php1200 (Balcony Center), and Php800 (Balcony Sides).

You can book your tickets through Ticketworld. You may also call or text (0945 499 1008) or send a message to the PETA Theater Center Facebook page for inquiries and reservations.

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[ Press Release ] Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones

The PETA Theater Center presents:

A shadow puppet comedy show, made from bits of rubbish.

Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones Poster1

Sneaky chickens, flying Ninjas, brain surgery and an unforgettable horse race! Welcome to the surreal shadow puppet world of Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones.

Using household objects and bits of rubbish, Bunk Puppets transforms simple objects into hilarious silhouette stories. In each scene, the puppetry is performed in front of the shadow screen, so that the audience gets a close look at the visual trickery. Old toys, brooms, boxes and discarded clothing are deftly stitched together to create shadow puppet stories and characters.

Delighting audiences in dozens of countries, Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones is a hilarious fusion of shadow puppetry and physical theatre. It’s a visual feast for the imagination! Come, experience one man’s playful vision of wonder and nonsense. Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones is a wordless and imaginative puppet comedy show for all ages running for 50 minutes. (Though some bits are a wee bit scary for under 6 yrs old).

Based in Melbourne, Bunk Puppets company director, Jeff Achtem explains “Traditionally, shadow puppeteers create their silhouette performances by manipulating puppets behind a screen. We perform Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones in front from the screen, which means we can use cinematic effects like close-ups and zooms. The audience gets to witness every bit of the puppeteers moves” he says.

Performed by Tim Sneddon, created and directed by Jeff Achtem.

  • Award Winner: Best Newcomer (Edinburgh Spotlight): Edinburgh Fringe 2010
  • Award Winner: Spirit of the Fringe (Mervyn Stutter’s): Edinburgh Fringe 2010
  • Award Winner: Adelaide Fringe 2011
  • Award Nominee: Total Theatre Award: Edinburgh Fringe 2010

SSBB Show Photos 5

QUOTES in the reviews:

“His imagination is glorious! This one-man show has so many characters and interesting situations, you can’t help but be captivated.” – The Adelaide Advertiser

“As he carefully brings the pieces together, it is impossible to be certain what you are about to see until it is finished and projected onto a large screen, where the intricacy of his creation is amazing.” – Edinburgh Evening News

“… more entertainment than a multi-million quid McMusical.: – The LIST (Edinburgh)

Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones comes to the Philippines on May 3-7, 2017 with seven limited performances at the PETA Theater Center. To complete this rare experience, there will also be a series of puppetry workshops for kids and adults alike facilitated by the founders of Bunk Puppets.

Tickets and workshop slots may be booked through Ticketworld or by texting (0917) 807 3069. For more information about the show, visit http://www.bunkpuppets.com and http://petatheater.com.

All show photos are by Andrew Wuttke.

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The 16 Sweetest Moments of 2016


Honestly, I hadn’t really planned on writing a yearender blog post for reasons that are relatively mababaw (i.e. my internet connection S U C K S here in Baguio City), but I thought it would be nice to cap this mostly WTF year with a look back at the moments I was most thankful for. After all, happiness stems from having a grateful heart, right?

And so without further ado, here are the 16 sweetest moments of my 2016.

1. Being able to write for kids. (Bayong ng Kuting Workshop, January 2016)

Being able to write is, in itself, a blessing, but at the end of 2015, I decided to challenge myself and enroll in the Bayong ng Kuting Workshop. The workshop required us to craft an original children’s story around the Bayong ng Kuting universe. And if you think writing children’s lit is easy, think. again. No news yet about our submissions, but no matter the outcome, I’m so glad I took on this challenge. ^_^

2. Dipping my toes in uncharted waters. (#romanceclass @ Komiket, February 2016)

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Another first for #romanceclass and myself was being one of the participating merchants at the Komiket, an event that featured and celebrated indie komiks and the talented people behind them. We probably stood out like a sore thumb then, selling romance novels alongside comicbooks and art, but it had been fun, and we actually sold books! I believe this was where the idea for #4 came up (though I could be wrong, heh).

BONUS ROUND: I met Manix Abrera for the first time in this event! He is SO COOL. <3

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