They say that without any competition, there isn’t any growth at all. Why so? It is because life will be such a boring state; one couldn’t find any challenge to advance one’s condition and all—at least that’s what I know in my growing years and which I see in the many La Sallites and Ateneans back then, or maybe even up to now. This is what ‘Rivalry’, the musical is all about. It centers on how the basketball game rivalry between La Salle and Ateneo back in the 60s when the two opposing teams were part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Philippines (it is in no way related to the US’s NCAA).
The story focuses on two families: The Basilios and the Valencias. The head of the two families have long been rivals especially during their heydays in basketball tournaments, which is passed on to their two sons that are both part of their respective basketball teams. Tommy Basilio (Mako Alonso) is with the Green Archers while his cousin Paco Valencia (OJ Mariano) is the star player of the senior basketball team, the Blue Eagles. The only thing that makes the two families ‘civil’ and ‘sane’ are two reasons: The wives: Andrea and Dolores are sisters, which were never affected with their respective husbands’ long-time rifts and then, the two sons—Tommy and Quito are the best buddies amidst the tension created by their fathers.
This 32 years of concept, which Ed Gatchalian, the executive producer, composer-arranger and musical director have claimed—is one bold step in coming out with an all-original Filipino production. He mentioned that the musical was a product of his old-time friend Noel Trinidad who once toyed the idea of coming up with a musical that revolved around the rivalry of Crispa-Toyota teams in the late 70s.
Fast-forward, Gatchalian finally decided to mount the musical: Rivalry – Ateneo-Las Salle the Musical.
Some of the positive notes about this production are as follows: It has already a ready market—its captive audience is the two rival schools—Ateneo and La Salle. Second, it recreated the idea of rivalry between the two schools from the basketball court to the stage of Meralco Theater. Lastly, the third one is the love triangle of Tommy-Reena-and Quito. Now that makes it a surefire blockbuster.
There was no doubt that Athena Tibi as Reena San Jose, the object of affection of the two boys played by Mako Alonso as Tommy Basilio and Felix Rivera as Quito Valencia did provide the ‘kilig’ factor. But, the most applauded part was Noel Trinidad’s, when he did his song and dance number—he did steal the limelight from the cast. And yes, the presence of the basketball dunk hoops are pretty much interesting because it transported the audience to experience what it is to be in a stadium during a ballgame.
However, what I found out about the production, there were some areas needed to be improved. No offense meant to Mr. Gatchalian’s show, the production has great promise, but I think the music, the lighting, the blocking need some reworking. The music is fine in terms of beat, its being contemporary, but it seemed that there was lack of energy or spunk—not sure if it’s the loudness of its sound that drowned the actors’ voices while singing or the actors just lack the gusto. The actors were almost racing with their lyrics, which somehow diminished the emotions and impact of its message needed to convey to their audience. Also, I struggled a couple of times on scenes especially when it attempted to build up tensions. It fell short, somewhere. I asked: Where’s the ‘rivalry’—I didn’t feel any? The lighting was quite poor. Even in photographs, the vividness seems to be difficult to achieve. Lastly, some of the actors were not fitted to assume the roles—either the actor is ‘too’ mature for the character or he or she simply couldn’t characterize it well. The actors included in the cast have already proven their acting skills in the past, but in this play, they were not able to give much justice to their roles.
In its entirety, the production is ambitious and is worth supporting. There are only a few theater productions that venture on this route. I believe Mr. Gatchalian’s vision is noble and worth-risking. The conclusion was mind-boggling. Did Reena end up with Quito or with Tommy? Who succeeded in having Reena–the Atenean or the La Sallite? Having that in mind, it is a good way to bank on… the love triangle between Rivera-Tibi-and-Alonso.
Perhaps, what the production needs is the kind of tension that Dulaang UP has created for ‘Orosman at Zafira’ particularly in the dance-fight scene. If that could be brought in and ironed out some of the kinks—there is a bigger chance of this getting noticed, not just to theater goers here but in abroad, too.
The musical runs from Thursdays to Sundays until March 11. Thursday – Sunday shows at 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday shows at 3 p.m.
For tickets, call TICKETWORLD at (632) 891-9999.
Visit its facebook page on RIVALRY: Ateneo-La Salle The Musical.