music, musings

ERASERHEADS, THE MUSICAL (Party Pilipinas Version)

years before SA WAKAS, a musical featuring the songs of Sugarfree, came into fruition, there was an attempt to do a musical using the songs of the Eraserheads, the greatest band there ever was. and although elements in this pseudo musical were borrowed from Rent and Moulin Rouge with bits of variety show thrown in (obviously this was done haphazardly), the musical showed that the songs had potential to be transformed and woven into a narrative.

here’s the result presented by GMA’s party pilipinas in september 2010 over a three week period, featuring gian magdangal, rachel anne go, lovi poe, mark bautista, jay perillo, geoff taylor, la diva, and ms ayen munji-laurel.  as a fan of the eraserheads and of musicals, i was intrigued by this and i liked it.  it helped that gian magdangal (im a fan) and ayen are musical theater people, plus rachel ann was more than capable of what she had to do with the role (she later played ariel onstage in the local staging of disney’s the little mermaid).

with the APO songs made into a film musical in I Do Bidoo Bidoo and sugarfree songs made into SA WAKAS, i dont see why we cant have a real eraserheads musical any time soon.

please watch it in hd (720). cheers!


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music, musings

SA WAKAS, A NEW PINOY ROCK MUSICAL

SA WAKAS stage design

SA WAKAS is a new pinoy rock musical love story, directed by andrei nikolai pamintuan and written by him with marianne abuan, featuring songs made famous by Sugarfree, a filipino band that has disbanded a few years back. we watched SA WAKAS on the opening weekend with its first ever show at the PETA Phinma Theater. generally we had mixed feelings about it. carlo was more livid than i was haha

first of all, the songs are all great. credits go to ebe dancel, lead singer of the band, who wrote most, if not all, of the band’s material. he even wrote a gorgeous new song for the musical.


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the performers were actually good. we watched the 3pm show on april 13th. the lead cast were played by the handsome fred lo (playing the lead guy, topper), laura cabochan, and justine pena.  both laura and justine are familiar faces as ive seen them in ateneo stage productions before. act 1 was just confusing. *spoilers* the story flow apparently was running in reverse so we started sa wakas (the end) and ended SA WAKAS dun sa simula (at the beginning) but this was only evident when you get to act 2. in the meantime, you sit through the first act lost and angry. you cant even latch on emotionally to any of the characters because theyre all so bitter and vile at each other and you dont know why there’s too much hate going on. when the first act ended, carlo and i were looking at each other and just going, what was that?! we actually contemplated on leaving right away. eventually we decided to change seats and sat at the balcony and waited to find a clearer perspective on things.

as act 2 progressed, i was telling myself this scene or that song should have been in act 1 so we could understand and appreciate the characters and situation better. it perhaps was only in the middle of the second act that you realize the story was in reverse. you go, oh, so that’s why, except that you’ve already hated the whole thing and are not sure if you’ll still like it.  and the characters turn out to be actually sweet and funny and it’s supposed to be bittersweet knowing in the end they do separate. the only thing bittersweet about it is that this could have been great if the treatment wasnt pretentious and didnt try to copy “The Last Five Years” or something like Nolan’s “Memento.” i dont really see it as “groundbreaking” since the reverse treatment was not really effective.

having said that, i think the last half of act 2 was really great. you finally get a clearer sense of who these characters are, what makes them tick and why you should fall in love with them. that scene with topper and gabbi on the rooftop was fantastic and the anti-hipster hipster lines were great. basha and popoy gets special mention again as lexi plays out a dvd of “one more chance”. you probably would still like to whack the lead guy in the head for cheating on his girlfriend and then you remember it didnt even go very well in the end at the beginning so what’s the point? the play’s treatment will indeed make you forget the bad things that happened in the relationship shown in the beginning but sometimes also, less is more.

im mightily curious though of what victor robinson iii (alternate for topper) would bring to the show, knowing he’s a really good PETA actor.  the reviews during press night on robinson were not very favorable but maybe that’s just first night jitters. most of the reviews on SA WAKAS were positive though, including feedback from friends who’ve watched the show. i thought it was just carlo and me who didnt like it (and few of the people seated behind us in the theater) then i read this review from broadwayworld.com which shares my sentiment.

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the cast during curtain call. from left: hans dimayuga, cassie manalastas, laura cabochan, fred lo, justine pena, mikou david, and abi sulit.

my friend, mikou david, is actually in the chorus and i congratulated her after the show, but i knew id be writing a not so great review of the show and i couldnt tell her that at that moment. also, one thing we noticed when we got in was that the set was tightly packed and some elements werent maybe necessary. we’ve seen a lot of productions mounted on the PETA theater stage but this felt too cluttered.

i was actually looking forward to this because im still waiting for the songs of the eraserheads to be made into a musical and this would be a fantastic appetizer. if the creators would explore a different treatment to act 1 maybe id sit again and watch this musical. i really wanted to like this and my reaction was not what i hoped for. here’s wishing for a miracle. in the meantime, im gonna wash off bad vibes with a dose of sugarfree’s dramachine album. cheers!

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movies, music, musings

Les Misérables (2012)

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LES MISERABLES the musical the movie. we waited for this all christmas long and it’s finally here. lots of things i may or may not need to comment on. but no fun not saying them, right? the golden globes is right to grant hugh jackman and anne hathaway best actor and supporting actress respectively but i think they should have at least nominated eddie redmayne for his fantastic portrayal as marius. beautiful voice and his scene on empty chairs and empty tables alone was worth the admission price.

and they were also right to give the best director award to ben affleck and not to tom hooper if only because of his excessive use of closeups. what’s up with that? also, some of his staging in the film is too literal–the pavement shines like silver, the streets are full of strangers, rain will make the flowers grow? we get it!

anne hathaway was awesome but something about her winning reaps of accolades and awards may have hampered my appreciation for the performance. same thing happened with jennifer hudson’s effie white. when she got to “and im telling you, im not going,” i expected to cry buckets and i didnt. shame.

the design was awesome, the textures reminded me of perfume: the story of a murderer where you could smell the streets of paris. even that little detail of dirt on marius’s rump when valjean carries him off into the sewer is just awesome. but i hate that painted eye in the optical shop signage by the barricade. you didnt see it? it was the “eye” of God (bring him home scene)

the weakness of the film may be due to the nature of the musical as a stage production. the transitions could be much smoother, story telling wise, and despite this being an adaptation of the musical, they could have added a bit more score in between scenes.

having said that, i forgive russel crowe’s singing voice because he did try his best and his acting was still effective. i love the 2nd half of the movie when marius and enjolras started plotting out the futile rebellion. i love the new song that fleshes out valjean’s purpose in life. i love samantha barks here because i hated her in the 25th anniv concert. i love the young cosette and i love gavroche. kudos to sasha baron cohen and the typecasted but lovable helena bonham carter. and it’s awesome to give love to colm wilkinson, who passes the candlesticks to the new valjean.

i am aware of hugh jackman’s singing prowess and despite him not being a natural tenor, he owned this and more. the imperfections of live singing created so much more depth in his performance that i wish he could have a breather of space in his camera framing to make it perfect. still awesome!

dont get me wrong though. i was trying my best not to belt out enjolras’s parts lest i earn the ire of my fellow theatergoers. at the end of the day, i still love this musical. the movie is imperfect but i will still watch this adaptation again and again and again. and in a year’s time, i will love this movie more than i did today.

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music, musings

LSS: i know him so well

whitney houston and her mother cissy houston

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i remember hearing this song on the radio as a kid and it was a huge hit in the 80s. it wasnt until i heard the original version that i was blown away by the power of the song. i only learned/realized this year (what?!!) that the song was from chess the musical, written by tim rice and music by benny andersson and björn ulvaeus (from ABBA, yes that group). whitney’s version is very pop, palatable to a larger audience but im starting to love the musical version more and more. chess the musical involves a romantic triangle between two top players, an american (frederick trumper, loosely based on grandmaster bobby fischer) and a russian, in a world chess championship, and a woman (florence) who manages one and falls in love with the other; all in the context of a cold war struggle between the US and the soviet union, during which both countries wanted to win international chess tournaments for propaganda purposes (source wikipedia).

let me just say, listening to the various versions of this song will overwhelm and may even confuse you. and you might even end up hating the song for too much recall. my apologies in advance 🙂

i know him so well is sung by florence, the lover, and svetlana, the estranged wife, reflecting on their relationship with anatoly (the russian chess player).  the london cast version was recorded by elaine paige with siobhán mccarthy but here’s paige (florence) and barbara dickinson’s (svetlana) hit version from the original concept album (1984).

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when the show moved to broadway in 1988, judy khun replaces elaine paige as the role was rewritten to be an american. here, she sings this song with marcia mitzman. for the uninformed, judy khun played cosette in les miserables for the original broadway cast and was singing voice of pocahontas (whose version of “colors of the wind” will remain my favorite over vanessa williams’s pop take). this is such a beautiful version i never tire listening to (along with paige’s version) on loop.


listen to this again and try to imagine pocahontas singing this 😉

in 2008 a concert version was staged with josh groban (anatoly), adam pascal (from rent and aida, playing freddie) and idina menzel (of wicked and glee fame, as florence). i do think her version of “i know him so well” with kerry ellis was an abysmal performance. although i love idina as elpheba, she was just screechy in this version.  kerry ellis also played elpheba on broadway.

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the always magnificent lea salonga sings the song in a tv show in the 90s (probably aired on rpn9).

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elaine paige sings along with one her biggest fans, susan boyle in this link here. we should remember susan boyle did mention her greatest idol was paige during her famous audition in the tv show, britain’s got talent.  there is another version recorded by barbra streisand with richard page in 1992.  of course, locally the divine kuh ledesma, with regine velasquez, covers the song here (start at 4:23 if you wanna get straight to the song). another with regine and lani misalucha here (start at 4:09).  the australian pop group, steps, also performs this song (accent is heavy!). link is here.

stumbled upon an amazing male version by john barrowman and daniel boys. they didn’t bother changing the lyrics here. awesome!

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this blogpost is sort of a comparative study, if you may, on the different performances of this incredible song.  ive listened to paige and kuhn’s versions endlessly i just had to blog it. it was inevitable. to lessen the blow of listening to various versions of the same song, i leave you with another beautiful song from chess the musical. this is someone else’s story, performed by judy khun (remember pocahontas?) and was only written when the show moved to broadway.  first heard this song when lea salonga performed it in her broadway concert (link here).  let’s listen to the original version:

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im all for im-all-alone songs from musicals (someone else’s story, aida’s i know the truth, and avenue q’s there’s a fine, fine line, etc.) but let’s save that for another day and another blog entry. cheers!

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movies, music

legally blonde the musical

LegallyBlondeTheMusical.jpgthis was a surprise. finished downloading the whole show a month ago and had a blast watching it. the film wasnt my favorite but the broadway show just became one. its music and the cast is infectious, it’s been weeks since i saw it and the songs are still looping in my head. the show’s audience clearly enjoyed themselves and cheered at every instance it’s contagious. ang kulit! laura bell bundy plays elle woods in the original cast and she got nominated for a tony award here.

fantastic choreography and staging in “what you want,” where elle applies for harvard, “chip on my shoulder,” and tracks 17 and 18 “legally blonde” songs. for more information here’s the wiki page of legally blonde the musical.

By Source, Fair use, Link

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