I watched my first live musical last night at the RCBC auditorium with a friend I met more than a year ago when I was still struggling in Manila (not that I struggle less now, of course I do, but at least for different reasons). I received the invitation from Gibbs Cadiz several days before to watch Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. I gave myself days to decide whether to watch something that might bore me comatose and end up wasting my time, or give it a try and see for myself if a Filipino production’s take on a Scandinavian playwright’s adaptation of a 1950s Ingmar Bergman’s flick, Smiles of a Summer Night, would work and not end up becoming a shoddy version of the original Broadway production.
And I believe it worked.
I am the least capable of reviewing this production, so I’m leaving it to the experts to do what has to be done. I got nothing to compare it to except for some live video recordings of popular musicals such as Rent, My Fair Lady, and splices of Jesus Christ Superstar. And a live performance is definitely not on the same plane as the limited perspective of a recording.
Furthermore, I would describe my taste on theater art ignorant if not downright crass, and on musical illiterate. I can count using my fingers the number of plays I have watch in my entire lifetime, so I thought giving a little of my time watching the beautiful Dawn Zulueta sing (to my knowledge) for the first time, with a man whose reviews on theatrical presentations in the metro are highly regarded, would not be a waste of time. So off I went to Ayala on a rainy Saturday evening.
And I am glad I went because the show didn’t fail to dazzle and nearly sent me to tears (if only for this part, I’d say it was an excellent production) when Dawn sang the lachrymose Send in the Clown.
The direction by Bobby Garcia was seamless, and the cast almost perfect (although I can mention some few miscast such as the character of Henrik Egerman (Felix Rivera) who sounded a bit too gay and confused to me and Frederika Armfeldt (Crystal Baranda-Paras) who lacked any semblance (the appearance, that is) to her mother, played by Dawn). And I am glad I went because of the conversations I had with the writer Gibbs Cadiz before and after the show that were as animating as the articles he has written on theater.
Upon entering the venue, I noticed that I was ridiculously dressed down, wearing my usual garb of unwashed (two weeks and counting) jeans with a huge rip in the left knee and a simple black shirt while the rest were in their semi-formal or decent casual. I was out-of-place. I looked like I was attending a matinee show at the UP Film Center. I got so much more to learn and work on in conducting myself in events like this one.
And I need to buy a pair of black leather shoes.