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Maja is Back via Her Third Concert


On Saturday, November 12 at the Music Museum, the Dance PrincessMaja Salvador is set to return onstage for her third concert titled—‘Only Maja’, which is exactly a year after her last.

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From a larger venue like Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay where Salvador had her second concert dubbed as ‘Majasty’, she is moving to a more intimate venue as she is bringing together a bit of her performances in her show last year. She will be taking on a number of solo dance numbers.

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Proven as a reliable actress as her previous TV series with Jericho Rosales and Paulo Avelino titled—‘Bridges of Love’ is nominated at the International Emmy Awards this year, competing in the Best Telenovela category alongside other nominees from Canada and Brazil; she will be spotlighting her singing. Parts of her show’s repertoire are songs from her well-received albums—‘Believe’ and ‘Maja in Love’ plus the recently launched single titled ‘Haplos’.

Among Maja’s closest friends, two equally gorgeous actors—Rayver Cruz and Enchong Dee will be performing with the young actress-turned singer-and dancer. Surprise guests will also be appearing during the show, which will definitely be a treat for the star’s fans and viewers alike.

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Maja gamely posed for a memento shot with one of the bloggers (which happens to be the writer of this article). Photograph is courtesy of Sany Chua.

‘Only Maja’ will be directed by Johnny ‘Mr. M’ Manahan and its musical director is Marvin Querido.

Presented by MFE Events Organizer; tickets are available on TicketWorld or at Music Museum at (632) 7216725.

Mio Infante takes Pride in 9 Works’ production on ‘La Cage Aux Folles’


Two of the notable things the audience would definitely feast upon the local production of ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ are the costumes and the set designs involved as created by the genius of Mio Infante and is mounted in a rather more intimate venue at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, which re-opened on the 15th of August.

The Cagelles of 'La Cage aux Folles'. Photograph courtesy of 9 Works Theatrical.

The Cagelles of ‘La Cage aux Folles’. Photograph courtesy of 9 Works Theatrical.

Mio Infante, the scenographer of this latest 9 Works Theatrical’s production, the winner of Best Scenic Designs at Philstage Gawad Buhay Awards for his works—‘The Bluebird of Happiness (2013) and ‘Rak of Aegis’ (2014); talks about herculean tasks he has to accomplish along with his team in order to bring a show that won’t only be remembered because of its great lead actors—Michael De Mesa and Audie Gemora as Georges and Albin or Zaza, respectively.

Mio Infante, the scenographer of this latest 9 Works Theatrical’s production. Photograph courtesy of 9 Works Theatrical.

Mio Infante, the scenographer of this latest 9 Works Theatrical’s production. Photograph courtesy of 9 Works Theatrical.

Through the ‘Beaded Eyelash’ of Albin.

The colour palette of the show is very Mediterranean and is set in St.-Tropez is a coastal town on the French Riviera, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southeastern France. The place have been popular because of artists and attracted the international jetsetters in the 60s because of its beaches and the nightlife.

Audie Gemora as Albin or Zaza and Michael De Mesa as Georges. Photograph courtesy of 9 Works Theatrical.

Audie Gemora as Albin or Zaza and Michael De Mesa as Georges. Photograph courtesy of 9 Works Theatrical.

According to Infante, he borrowed inspirations from the golden hues of the skies and azure seas, the terracotta colors did find its way into the nostalgic ‘postcard look’ and ‘feel’ of a bygone era. The touches of teal and lavender echo the flora of the area.

“Fitting a ‘big musical’ scene that changes into a small space as was quite challenging,” Mio confessed.

In fact, his challenge didn’t end there since there it involves a thousand and one (quick) costumes, make-up and wig changes. Despite the fact that the originally show meant for a bigger theatrical venue, the director (Robbie Guevara) and him thought best to focus on the intimacy of the plot, that being about family, love and acceptance.

When one looks at Albin’s beaded lashes, everything’s sparkle dust, bugle beads, ostrich plums as described in one of the songs titled—‘(A Little More) Mascara’ performed by Albin and the Cagelles as the world that he’s looking at is beautiful, too.

“Albin is such a strong character. He is an artiste and can have his share of tantrums, despite the challenges of being accepted by the social norms, he ultimately can laugh about it, and selflessly take sidesteps in lieu of unconditional love for his family. He notes that he does this ‘with one great stroke of mascara’ and everything seems and looks better,” Infante added.

With regard to their sets, Robbie Guevara (the director) and Mio agreed to retain the ‘look-and-feel’ of the 1983 original production, which had more froufrou, have lots of sequins and fabulous-ness as opposed to the Chocolate Menier Factory of the said musical in West End and as it transferred to Broadway.

“I had seen that production in London. It was a more gritty and millennial adaptation.”

He also mentioned that the biggest challenge was the script as it required for multiple scenes that had took them inside the apartment, backstage of the club, on the St.-Tropez promenade and back; and the changes had to be fast and seamless.

“We decided on a generic looking set of arched doors that could double up as interiors and exteriors; with a bit of louvered door add-ons that complemented the other scenic drops that flew down from the battens, and we were able to do that. We also extended scenic elements into the auditorium house, so that the audience became part of the cabaret club ‘La Cage’.”

Designing Albin/Zaza’s costumes: A Dream Come True for Mio.

Audie Gemora dazzles as Zaza in this scene. Photograph courtesy of 9 Works Theatrical.

Audie Gemora dazzles as Zaza in this scene. Photograph courtesy of 9 Works Theatrical.

Infante who was a former Cagelle had Repertory Philippines’ 1988 production of the same musical, and second having designed the play version Gay Birds for Rep also in 2005 was a dream task. He shared that the work came easy for him since he’s already quite familiar.

“As a reference point I looked at cabaret drag personalities of the late 70s to early 80s, zeroed-in on the fabulous gowns with sequins of Danny La Rue and also the Liberace style, with echoes of style icons such as Ann Margaret, Lady Diana Spencer, Telly Savalas, and even Margaret Thatcher (for the other characters’ costumes).”

“We first see Albin ‘in-between scenes’, and ‘at home in the kitchen’, the script called for him in a dressing gown, but I figured her style offstage would still exude the flamboyant thespian style. He would be wearing a bustier and slip that would transform into a costume change in full view of the audience, but move well with the ‘Ginger Rogers-type of choreography’.

“Twinkle Zamora (costume execution) and I found this fabulous printed fabric, which we knew would be perfect in electric-pleated and matched with satin details that would put contrast in texture.”

He also shared: “We had several shopping sprees in Divisoria and had the time of our life sifting through bolts and bolts of fabrics in sequins, of all colors and textures. It was like wanting to have all the candy in the candy store. However, we had to restrain ourselves knowing that, ultimately, we had to pick, select, and simplify!”

“On Zaza’s gowns, we had to consider the male form with the type of silhouette that the ‘show costume’ gowns. By putting more fabric and flounce on the bodice and bust area, while showing off a lot of shoulders, we looked into a sexier form of course and added a bit of the hips.”

Cagelles Dressed Fashionably in Drag.

Since the show is dubbed as ‘cage of mad women’, from cagey crinolines to spider webs, Little Bo Peep and Harem girls, to geishas and cloistered nuns, the Cagelles’ costumes are much fun to design. It was the craziness of the cast—their wackiness on-and-offstage is infectious,

“We were very lucky to have been given permission to rummage through Repertory Philippines’ costume collection and (thank you to Tita Baby Barredo). It was fun and nostalgic to see costumes from shows I had been part of before as designer or as an actor. I remember finding a pair of Leopard hi-heeled boots and finding my name scribbled inside it! It was from the 1988 Rep ‘La Cage’ production.

“This show is our homage not only to the Fashion guru’s of the 80s (the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines) who generously and enthusiastically designed the Finale bridal gowns.”

Wedding gowns by designers John Abul and Lito Perez are worn by Cagelles Rafa and Mako. Sketches courtesy of the mentioned designers.

Wedding gowns by designers John Abul and Lito Perez are worn by Cagelles Rafa and Mako. Sketches courtesy of the mentioned designers.

Wedding gowns by designers Danilo Franco and Fanny Serrano are worn by Cagelles Randi and Mara. Sketches courtesy of the mentioned designers.

Wedding gowns by designers Danilo Franco and Fanny Serrano are worn by Cagelles Randi and Mara. Sketches courtesy of the mentioned designers.

Wedding gowns by designers Oscar Peralta and Ole Morabe are worn by Cagelles Analin and Chesko. Sketches courtesy of the mentioned designers.

Wedding gowns by designers Oscar Peralta and Ole Morabe are worn by Cagelles Analin and Chesko. Sketches courtesy of the mentioned designers.

Wedding gowns by designers Edgar San Diego and Gener Gozum. Sketches courtesy by the mentioned designers.

Wedding gowns by designers Edgar San Diego and Gener Gozum. Sketches courtesy by the mentioned designers.

Other costume designers like Tita Celia Diaz Laurel, Tita Baby, etc. We borrowed costumes for Jacobs’ quick costume changes.

While on the wig and make-up, Mio collaborated with the talented Myrene Santos. We went through on different wigs that would flatter the male actors’ faces, keeping with period style, and budgets. We also have female actors in the Cagelle line-up, and it added a challenge to make them look like men in drag—costume and make-up wise.

‘La Cage Aux Folles’ will have its last show today, September 6 at 4pm. For tickets and other inquiries, call (632) 586-7105 or +639175545560, or email info@9workstheatrical.com.

DUP’s ‘#R</3J’ is Resplendently Unique in Many Ways


(A Review)

Numerous attempts have been adapted to stage William Shakespeare’s 1597 classic play—‘Romeo and Juliet’ and through Dulaang UP’s 40th Theater Season, an original play that is adapted by Guelan Varela-Luarca and gave it a more relevant take, which includes its title—‘#R</3J’ with two of the premiere university-based theater company’s up-and-coming stars—Roco Sanchez and Francesca Go as R Montes and J Capule (the localized version of Romeo and Juliet), respectively.

In this scene, is where R and J met and copulate. R is Roco Sanchez  and J is Francesca Go. Photograph courtesy of Eduard John Pulido.

In this scene, is where R and J met and copulate. R is Roco Sanchez and J is Francesca Go. Photograph courtesy of Eduard John Pulido.

Frankly, the said production need not worry of its response because it already has a cult following on Shakespeare alone and everyone would just simply go and check on what this first directorial stint of the newest artistic director of DUP—Dexter M. Santos has envisioned on this popular literary piece. Anyone who hasn’t seen Santos’s works may find this stage presentation either amusing or confusing, but personally—I love the choreography in this adaptation especially of course the love scene between R and J.

Even if the choreography was a collaboration of sorts by Santos along with Japhet Mari Cabling, Al Bernard Garcia, Jeff Rm Garcia, Isagani Tayag and Stephen Viñas; the entire run of the play, those who are familiar with Santos’s works—would really say that his imprints are all over it. But this time, more tamed, and more endearing. The ensemble succeeded in providing certain episodes or emotions and all that will help set the mood of a particular scene in dance and creative movements.

Three veteran stage actors Leo Rialp as Shakespeare, Ricky Ibe as Congressman Montes, and Mitoy Sta. Ana as Mayor Capule were all brilliant in their respective characters. Ibe who may have tried channeling the looks of Toby Tiangco or Miro Quimbo in his mind, but none of them is an orator; still he managed to be great in his acting. He was a bit distracted in the scene (briefly) where he and Sta. Ana had to deliver a speech simultaneously with different texts. However, his interpretations of the interviewer were more appealing since any member from the audience could insinuate that he’s mimicking Boy Abunda. His Boy Abunda interpretation was truthful, and didn’t impress me as mere or cheap impersonation at all; it has a slight distinction. Nothing to worry that he would suffer in comparison to Jason Gainza’s interpretation of the King of Talk. Mitoy on the other hand, as Mayor Capule also did great as he tried to amalgamate all those matinee idols-turned-politicians like Senator Bong Revilla, Isko Moreno, Jinggoy Estrada and more. He was such a riot, too.

Among the ensemble, it was Stephen Viñas who stood out since he effectively breathed into the role of Tybaldo or Tybalt Capule Jr. with his swagger moves. While Jon Abella as Markky fell short as the buddy-secret gay lover of R; he lacked the needed emotions of being an ignored friend after he expressed his feelings toward his friend (at least during his own moments), but I know the actor has more chances of redeeming himself in the next runs of the show; he’s a brilliant and a promising talent still.

Two of the scenes that I somehow violently reacted was when the psychiatrist was pseudo-lecturing about the three stages of love, which I find it a bit unnecessary. Yes, the movements were beautifully executed by the ensemble where they shifted from one emotion to the other just to paint a certain scenario where J could have gotten through in the process. Then the video scene of R’s suicide was totally different from what was acted on stage. Was that intended to be stylized? If so, I still think it was inconsistent as a piece of evidence to the character’s death.

But, two of the most moving and probably quotable quotes in the play are the lines that R uttered: “We were impossible but we made it happened” and “Love is a Drug, but never say NO to it.”

Moving and quiet, but surely was a great statement that 'Love Wins' amid any chaotic world. Photograph by Eduard John Pulido.

Moving and quiet, but surely was a great statement that ‘Love Wins’ amid any chaotic world. Photograph by Eduard John Pulido.

As a whole, this adaptation is resplendently unique in many ways, the Varela-Luarca adaptation has that ‘charm’ to attract viewers and theater lovers to flock to Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater and witness this spectacular stage performance that will run till September 13. It is one piece that is a not-to-be-missed since it retold the story of the star-crossed lovers and transformed the setting of Verona into a concrete jungle at the heart of Metro Manila set in 2015, which is teeming with corruption, revolt, advertisements, sex, social media, and condominium units. It truly captured the essence of the most enduring tragedy juxtaposing the young lovers’ romance with the present society’s many forms of ‘commodified’ and ‘convoluted’ kind of love.