Next to Normal the Musical: It’s Back in Manila!

Next to Normal is one of the greatest musicals I have watched my entire life. It is the only play that has ever brought me to tears. How important is that? To give you an idea, I’ve never cried over a single movie. Ever.

That was some time early this year, when it was run by Atlantis Productions in the RCBC theater. I didn’t do any research on its story beforehand — I like surprises. So knowing that it was a rock musical, I expected it to be sort of fun. While it did make me laugh a lot, what struck me more is how effortlessly it broke my heart.

Hands down to Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, who played as the manic-depressive mother — a role which, as mentioned by Maria Ressa in her blog post is downright “exhausting”. I couldn’t have thought of a better description for that character. Other roles were played by: Jett Pangan ( as Dan, the father), Felix Rivera (as Gabe, the son), Bea Garcia (as Natalie, the daughter) and Jake Macapagal (as the doctor — my favorite!). Good story, splendid performance.

In fact, Ms. Lea Salonga says:

“This is the best production Atlantis has presented in its many years of producing theater, not with a mammoth set, a huge cast, and racks of elaborate costumes, but with simplicity and directness, and a cast of six wonderful actors whose sole purpose was to tell a good story.”

Next to Normal is all about pain, love and family. I shall say nothing more lest I spoil it for you. I highly recommend you watch it, as they have a rerun from October 7 to 16, 2011. I’d watch it again if I get the chance.

Next to Normal is produced by Atlantis Productions. You can get your tickets from Shows in Manila, or you can just check the poster for more details.

Steve Jobs: How Come Nobody Noticed You’re Handsome?

I realize today that when a particular man is so great, nobody notices the little, seemingly insignificant things anymore. But look at him.

Steve Jobs was actually quite a handsome man.

I didn’t think you’d disagree. He was not bad at all.

But see, it’s not that pretty face that sticks. Because when you see this face:

You don’t see a handsome bearded man. What you see is Brilliance. Beauty. Change.

Today, It was the pretty man who died of cancer; whom we will later on bury six feet underground. But Steve Jobs? Steve Jobs isn’t dead. I have nothing to write that has yet been written elsewhere, except that Steve Jobs, like Jesus (hell, like Elvis Presley) is alive. Yes, maybe his body is gone, but his ideas, all the beauty that he has created — all these things that make up perhaps 90% of his whole being — they live on.

And you could bet he’s got a way loooonger life to live than anyone of us.

Peter Pan at the Meralco Theater

I bet one time or another you’ve had this Peter Pan fantasy of never growing old. I’m no different! In fact I might still have that fantasy deep within me now — life is a never-ending quarter-life crisis (or so they say). If you are, like me, a fan of this Mr. forever-boy fairy tale character, then this might be of interest to you: Repertory Philippines and Stages present Peter Pan.

Me and my family and some buds had a first look at it last 29th of September (tickets courtesy of my dear father, thank you). To give an honest opinion, it wasn’t as fun as expected, although it wouldn’t be fair to say I hadn’t enjoyed it at all. For one, Sam Concepcion is rather charming and talented. And I loved those Indian bits!

I’m not quite sure about the ticket prices, but my guess is it should range from P600-P1500. Bring kids! There’s gonna be a lot of flying. 🙂

Peter Pan will be shown at the Meralco Theater from Sept. 29 – Oct. 30, 2011. Check poster for details.

I’m just around the corner / capoeiramanila

If you ever feel that I’m way too quiet in this side of the world, remember that I’m just around the corner, in a different address.

In the Heights: Pacencia y Fe!

ATLANTIS PROD- In The Heights cast

You could say that Atlantis Productions strikes again with another moving musical this year — In the Heights. Although the play takes place in a bodega-ish area in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, the common Pinoy would easily relate to the culture of the community, and even the individual stories of its characters.

Imagine a typical day of Usnavi, a guy who lives in the neighborhood:

Lights up on Washington Heights, up at the break of day
I wake up and I got this little punk I gotta chase away
Pop the grate at the crack of dawn, sing
While I wipe down the awning
Hey ya’ll good morning

Daniel, a daddy who works hard to give his daughter a good education and a better life than his:

And I always knew
That she would fly away
That she was gonna change the world someday
I will not be the reason that my family can’t succeed
I will do what it takes
They’ll have everything they need
Or all my work, all my life
Everything I’ve sacrificed will have been useless

Nina, a college girl whom everyone looks up to, and who later on comes home after having quit school:

This is my street
I smile at the faces I’ve known all my life
They regard me with pride
And everyone’s sweet
They say, “You’re going places!”
So how can I say that while I was away, I had so much to hide!
Hey guys, it’s me!
The biggest disappointment you know

A lot of the issues involve making ends meet, the importance of family and home, getting educated — very Filipino indeed. They even have their own version of snow cones called piragua.

But among all, the most inspiring (and perhaps also my favorite) character would be Abuela Claudia, the woman who revels in the simple things of life and later on ***SPOILER WARNING*** wins the lottery:

And as I fed these birds
My hands begin to shake
And as I say these words
My heart’s about to break
And ay Mama
What do you do when your dreams come true?
I’ve spent my life inheriting dreams from you
What do I do with this winning ticket?
What can I do but pray?
I buy my loaf of bread
Continue with my day
And see you in my head
Imagining what you’d say
The birds, they fly away
Do they fly to La Vibora?
Alright, Mama, Okay.
Paciencia y fe!

Patience and Faith.

The last showing of In the Heights was actually today, but who knows, they might decide to show it again in the next couple of months. All I can give you at the moment is this sneak peek video from ASAP. The cast includes a rapping, hip-hopping Nyoy Volante (as Usnavi), Jackie Lou Blanco (as Camila) who surprised me with her lovely voice, Calvin Millardo (as Kevin) whom I must have seen in some other plays, and K-La Rivera (as Nina) whom I’ve never seen before but was very pleasant nevertheless.

Atlantis Productions was also responsible for moving me to tears a few months back through their heart-breaking heart-warming play, Next to Normal. This will be re-staged from October 7 to 16 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City. For tickets, call Atlantis Productions at 892-7078 or 840-1187 or Ticketworld at 891-9999. For info, visit If you have spare tickets, please give them to me, I wanna watch it again!

Dogs Can Sing (feat. Scotch)

I don’t think there’s a better way to start your day than watching a fam bam baby singing — especially if that baby is a dog. Meet our talented baby boy, Scotch.

Fun Facts:

  • Name: Zachary Scotch — Zachary because he’s black, and that was the name of the black ranger from Power Rangers when we were kids; Scotch because, well, just because.
  • Also called: Scotch, Scotchie Boy, Baby Boy, Oogly Boy — but he will also respond to the sound of food plastic wrappers.
  • Breed: Terripoo, a Terrier and Poodle hybrid — his hair was newly shaven at the time the video was taken, poor little thing has no hair except for that mustache.
  • Favorite food: Seafood, or “if I seafood, I eat food” — which is everybody’s favorite anyway.
Real Story: I’ll explain it another time. In the meantime, just enjoy the show. 🙂

Simple Everyday Happy Stuff

Although I try to resist the urge to write anything too personal (which means that I am likely to delete this in a couple of days), some things are just too nice not to share. Unfortunately, I didn’t win the lottery. I just really appreciate simple everyday happy stuff — that’s a mouthful — like:

1. Being able to eat chocolate chips. Dot dot dot, after a whole day of eating nothing but Skyflakes. I wouldn’t want to elaborate but it has something to do with loose… movement.

2. Comments from people you don’t know. I know our parents said we shouldn’t, but I like talking to strangers. It’s like, hey, someone’s reading! And that makes me happy. 🙂

3. Contagious blog posts. Once in a while you come across feel-good blog posts and you feel just as inspired. ?

4. Knowing you’re cool. Well that sounds a bit narcissistic but I got that from a movie I watched in the car on my way home: “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”. It’s about 16-year old Craig who admitted himself to a mental hospital after realizing he needs to be cured of his suicidal depression. Anyway, one of his friends from inside, Bobby, told him:

“You’re cool. You’re smart. You’re talented. You have a family that loves you. You know what I would do just to be you for just a day? I would, I would do so much. I would, I don’t know, I’d just… I’d just live. Like it meant something.”

See, there’s no need to dig too deep. We all have something — big or small — to be thankful for. We just gotta keep our eyes open. 🙂