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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