Carver, do I hear you singing 'What a journey it has been?' (Chuckle). ZsaZsa's creator has been candid enough to say that he conceived of his superheroine at a difficult time in his life, but you wouldn't know it from reading the gut-bustingly funny comicbook he came up with. Or maybe you would. Humor as catharsis: What could be more classic?
'Zsazsa's' transfer to the stage has its own story. Herbie Go, then the artistic director of Tanghalang Pilipino, first heard of it when Chris Millado, TP resident director, excitedly told him about a comicbook he had browsed through that would make for a good musical, about a gay parlorista named Ada who became a red-haired, big-breasted superheroine. But he got one detail wrong: he said Ada transformed into ZsaZsa Zaturnnah by rubbing the magic stone from outer space all over his body! Exactly like a panghilod. Naturally, Mr. Go found the idea hilarious, and read the book. The rest, as they say, is history.
While 'ZsaZsa Zaturnnah' the movie is about to open in days, the stage musical is gearing for its fourth rerun on Jan. 19-28, 2007 at CCP's Tanghalang Huseng Batute (call 8323661 for tickets). It wouldn't be fair to compare the movie and the musical, since they are two different mediums. Let's just say that, for those who've seen the stage version, it would remain a singular experience no matter how good the movie might turn out to be. Seeing something live and up-close--especially one that's done with great skill--provides that assurance.
Time to relive the magic of 'ZsaZsa Zaturnnah' with these audio clips! Mr. Vince de Jesus (composer/lyricist/musical director), many thanks for the thumbs-up to post these mp3 clips here.
1. BABAE NA AKO. This scene marks the first time Ada transforms into his alter-ego, and the first time the audience hears Eula Valdes sing live. "When Ada first became Zaturnnah," I wrote in my review, "she burst into 'Babae Na Ako,' a foot-stompin' ditty that came with a bevy of babes in white bathrobes wielding mirrors. The tune was a subtle nod to Tuesday Vargas' novelty song, 'Babae Po Ako,' but scored in the big, bouncy idiom of musical theater. The scene, meanwhile, recalled a similar show-stopping set piece in Elton John and Tim Rice's Broadway musical 'Aida.'"
Listen to Ms. Valdes and Ricci Chan (playing sidekick Didi) electrify the house with this quasi-soul number.
2. BATTLE TRANSMORPHICATION PRODUCTION NUMBER. Before ZsaZsa's nemesis Queen Femina and her Amazonistas engage her in battle, they do this production number. Reviewing the CD soundtrack, I said, "De Jesus' canny pop-culture instincts are also on display in the short vignettes for the 'amazonistas.' For Dina B., he used the opening bars of 'Bakit ba Ganyan?,' for Sharon C. 'High School Life,' for Vilma S. the star's biggest hit with Edgar Mortiz, 'Something Stupid,' and for Nora A., her 'Tawag ng Tanghalan'-winning piece, 'Moonlight Becomes You,' with insanely recast lyrics."
Tess Jamias sings the Nora A. part in this recording, and her take on early La Aunor is priceless (This mallet made of steel will easily crush your hollow heyd/ It will cowse you so much pain until you wish that you were deyd/ Combined with my grace and beaudy, I will make you kneel and beyg/ With one swing of my arm I can easily break your leyg/ A-hah!). Agot Isidro sings the Queen Femina part, Mayen Estanero is Sharon C., Wilma Doesnt is the scene-stealing Dina B., and Deeda Barreto is Vilma S.
3. IKAW ANG SUPERHERO NG BUHAY KO. Dodong's song to a bruised and battered ZsaZsa. Sweet, sweet lyrics (Ano ba ang sukatan ng pagkalalaki/ Sa lalim ba ng boses o sa tibay ng tindig/ Nasusukat ba ito sa dami ng pinangakuan ng pag-ibig?...). Arnold Reyes plays Dodong.
4. VICTORIA! WINNER! TAGUMPAY! ZsaZsa, Didi, Dodong and the whole town's victory cheer after one successful battle. The adventurous music--segueing effortlessly from a slow beat to a frenetic churchy vibe, the lyrics (Pati ako'y nagulat sa lakas ng lola niyo/ Mayroon pa bang kokontra, sa'kin na ang korona/ Ang tarush! Panalo na ako!) and the great vocal work by the ensemble make this the perfect carrier single for the musical.
Me again: "It's a no-brainer that, by the end of this Day-Glo fantasy, Ada/ZsaZsa would get his man. What assured a giddy afterglow was hearing these lines sung to him:
Ikaw ang superhero ng buhay kong ito
Ikaw ang Kristala at Darna ko
Ang Sugo at Mulawin ko
Lastikman at Gagamboy
Si Volta at Captain Barbell ko
Ang Super G ng buhay ko
Ikaw ang superhero ng buhay ko!
"On the wings of such savvy pop-coated tinsel, 'ZsaZsa Zaturnnah, Ze Muzikal' zoared."
Note: The CD soundtrack, consisting of 24 tracks including two minus-ones, is not available commercially. To order, call Mr. De Jesus at 0917-8834203. Mr. De Jesus also says the movie soundtrack, which has 4 new songs, will be released online, with customers being able to download individual tracks for a fee. Winner!