A few days ago, PEP came out with a list of “the most memorable scenes from plays staged in the last two years. This top list is chosen from plays done by professional groups and excludes productions performed by school organizations.” It also asked its predominantly showbiz-oriented readers to give theater a try, because, while “Television and cinema will entertain you with their visual cues... only theater can assault your senses through the expert use of lighting, set design and calculated gestures and blocking... Such is the magic of live theater.”
The citations (in alphabetical order):
Altar Boyz (Repertory Philippines)
Mark, the “sensitive” member of the boy band Altar Boyz, tries to open up to his buddies but he is afraid of rejection. However, through the encouragement of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Juan, the effeminate singer manages to give a humorous confession through his song "Epiphany." And as soon as you get out of the theater, you will definitely be singing proudly: “I am Catholic, hear me roar!”
Avenue Q (Atlantis Productions)
There is one scene in Avenue Q that separates adults from the little ones. Before the love scene of the two main puppets (Kate Monster and Princeton), kids are ushered out of the auditorium so grownups could continue watching the so-called “full puppet nudity” of this musical. Puppetry has never been this erotic.
Cinderella (Broadway Asia Entertainment)
I have two words to entice you to watch: Lea Salonga. If that didn't encourage you to watch the Asian version of Cinderella, then you should look forward to the transformation scene of the pumpkin into a glamorous carriage. Dazzling lights will enthrall viewers as the fairy godmother weaves her magic for the humble maid. This production is currently touring Asian countries, with a November run scheduled in Hong Kong.
Insiang (Tanghalang Pilipino)
Another sex-themed play makes it to this top list but this time, humans are involved instead of puppets. Ricky Davao and young thespian Sheenly Vee Gener have a love scene in the theater version of Insiang, which is based on the 1976 film of Lino Brocka. Insiang was talked about not only for its adult scenes but also because Ricky exposed his butt in this Tanghalang Pilipino production. Also noteworthy is the wrap-around set designed by Hesus Bobot Lota that captured the squalor of slum areas. TP also encouraged viewers to take part in the drama by inviting volunteers to play laundrywomen or labanderas.
Kudeta (Tanghalang Pilipino)
Playwright Mustapha Matura was born in Trinidad but the story that he wrote about a coup that toppled a country's president could very well have been about the Philippines. Mario O'Hara brought the house down when he portrayed the sex-deprived President Eddie Jones. Since he has been in jail for a long time, he recounts his sexual exploits in one scene, much to the amusement of viewers who probably best remember him as the director of the films Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (1976) and Babae sa Bubungang Lata (1998).
Mulan (Repertory Philippines)
Disney's Mulan is definitely kid-friendly even when it is adapted for the stage. Youngsters will enjoy the interactivity of the play especially when cast members ask the audience to provide the sound effects in some of the scenes. For me, the highlight of the play is the way that they recreated an avalanche through the use of white flowing curtains. Brilliant!
Noli at Fili Dekada 2000 (PETA) The Philippine Educational Theater Association managed to condense the two books of Jose Rizal, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, into an engaging two-act play that depicts modern-day ills of society. Corruption is still the prevailing cancer that destroys lives and the forests of the Sierra Madre. Not to be missed is the opening scene wherein the actors are drenched with water coming down from showerheads placed above the stage.
Skin Deep (PETA)
One of the best comedies ever staged this year was PETA's Skin Deep, a riotous comedy about seven people who enter the Skin-Deep Beauty Sanctuary for a life-changing makeover. From start to finish, you will be doubling up with laughter over the humorous yet insightful songs of the characters. The ending of the play provides a surprising twist that will have you thinking about the extreme measures that people go through in search of perfection.
Tuesdays with Morrie (Repertory Philippines)
Reading the book Tuesdays with Morrie is touching but seeing it acted out on stage is a welcome treat. Jose Mari Avellana, who played Morrie Schwartz, created buzz in the theater community when he collapsed during the curtain call for one of his performances. He was in great pain during the show but he went on with the show--definitely the mark of a true professional!
West Side Story (STAGES)
Christian Bautista has two leading ladies in the local version of the Broadway play West Side Story: Joanna Ampil and Karylle. Expect lively action sequences and an elaborate set composed of buildings that move fluidly across the stage. One of the most heartfelt songs in this production is the duet of Tony and Maria for “One Hand, One Heart.” The two lovers pledge their love for each other while in the middle of a gang war.
The full article here has links to the complete PEP reviews of all 10 plays. Any other productions that you think should be in the list?