It was quite a different feeling to watch a show that you were once part of. I was back at the Guerrero Theatre yesterday in UP to watch the rerun of Isang Panaginip na Fili written and directed by Floy Quintos with original music by Ceejay Javier. The original material debuted 2 years ago and I’m glad to have been a part of the cast as chorus. I should say that being a part of this show is a magical journey and up until now, I still want to do it. I got chills all over my body while watching the show. Nostalgia looms through the air as the famous ‘cuidao’ songs play. I can’t help it but get teary-eyed and say to myself, “Hey, I should be on that stage singing those songs and wearing those costumes.” I want to jump off my seat and leap on the stage and do my thing like what I did 2 years ago. But that was a quite different story to tell.

I admit it, I envy the present cast for having Dexter Santos as their choreographer. If there’s one thing that would set this show aside from the first run, it was the unique, flamboyant, and harmonic dance steps by the man who gave us Orosman at Zafira (OZ). The show was like St. Louis Loves Dem Filipinos and OZ in one. Even though little changes were made in the script, the show still brought the freshness of the original piece. Some musical numbers were given new arrangements which made them classy and easier to sing. (Back then, we really had a hard time rehearsing the songs because of the complex rhythms.) The new batch of chorus undoubtedly has nice voices and the lead actors never failed to deliver Pepe Rizal’s message with much conviction and passion.

They did a quite different opening number. I think it was way better to keep an almost bare stage and the chorus enters on the first climactic note. It’s much stronger doing that. This year, they managed to use curtains (which I guess was the plan in the 2008 production) and the actors were preset on stage. It has a nice choreography but a little push is needed to lift the energy especially from the singing chorus.

Doing this musical is tiring yet fulfilling because we do production number after production number. Personal favorite of mine is the Imuthis scene. It was good before but it is way way better this year. The stage was maximized and choreo was grander. Same with ‘Magandang Balita/Lampara’ and ‘Matanglawin.’ They improve much on choreo. There are times though that the chorus lacks energy especially on the balcony. Turned out that the balcony became a safe haven for them rather than a performance space. Sorry. Also, Maria Clara’s death scene didn’t make much impact. I still remember when we did this show, the chorus sings backstage counterpointing the mad nuns on stage. We’re like throwing our voices out from the backstage to the auditorium. And the death of Juli should be climactic. I don’t know what happened to the performance of the actors. But I think, together with the death of Juli, the scene also died. One more thing, I noticed that the chorus didn’t sing the first ‘FILIBUSTERO’ in sync after Kabesang Tales shot Simoun. They’re like waiting for someone to sing first before they can follow. This was after the ‘Magandang Balita/Lampara’ and the prelude to the finale number.

Ad libs from the original run became quite handy for this year’s production. Some of them include ‘Nagdudugo ang ilong ko’ by Eric Dela Cruz (one of the original Tunyings) and ‘Buhatin na nga natin dahil baka patayin pa tayo sa nobelang ito!’ by Ces Quesada (one of the original and present Donya Victorina).

Franco Laurel still best fits the role. No one could ever do it like him. His youthful yet classy attack to the character of Pepe Rizal is one of Fili’s trademark. Add the fact that he’s a singer who can act. No doubt about it. Nazer Salcedo gave the show an operatic twist which I think what Direk Floy really wants. Ces Quesada is as bubbly as ever in her Donya Victorina character. Floyd Tena follows the likes of JC Santos and JM de Guzman as Basilio. The innocence of Janine Santos gave a true-to-life Juli. Greg de Leon’s overpowering voice is perfect for Kabesang Tales. Charley Magalit is quite a surprise for getting out of her comfort zone as Paulita Gomez. Vincent Pajara proved to be more than a character actor in his role as Isagani. Jean Judith Javier is haunting yet lovely as Maria Clara. And lastly, Meynard Penalosa is much more convincing in his acting techniques as the scary Padre Camorra. This show is full of great artists filling Guerrero with SRO’s, rounds of applause, and standing ovations.

The finale never failed to bring me to tears. The anti-climactic tone of it made much sense since it’s more of a plea to the Filipinos rather than a conclusion to a play. I think the whole musical is a microcosm of our nation today.

I hope that this musical would come a long way. If there’s going to be a 3rd run, I would do my best to be a part of it, again. 🙂