[A] stellar event was the month-long Sarsuwela Festival at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
“Walang Sugat” (1902) is arguably our greatest musical play (along with--objectively now--Jerry A. Dadap’s “Andres Bonifacio: Ang Dakilang Anak Pawis”)... The latest production (by the Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation of Bulacan, at the UP Theater) was again cause for celebration, for the charismatic actors (led by Karen Vaje and Rey Clement Maaliao) sang engagingly, and direction by Armando Santa Ana was crisp and fast-paced.
“Sa Bunganga ng Pating” (1921, by Leon Ignacio and Julian Cruz, presented by the Far Eastern University Art Theater Clinique) was notable for its social consciousness. Young soprano Jet Barrun shone as Nati, the landlord’s daughter who helps the peasants in their struggle for land to call their own.
“Ang Kiri” (1926, by Leon Ignacio and Servando de los Angeles, presented by Dulaang UP) was a penetrating (no pun intended) study of a courtesan, played with flair by soprano Natasha Garrucha. As her provincial lover Jacinto, multitalented Joaqui Valdes, a Jericho Rosales look-alike (at least from a distance), elicited screams from the many coeds in the SRO audience.
The power of Nick Joaquin’s classic “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” was again evident in the latest version, this time by Repertory Philippines (at OnStage, Greenbelt 1).
Felt performances were given by two of our finest actresses, Irma Adlawan and Liesl Batucan, as Candida and Paula, respectively, along with Dido de la Paz as Don Perico, the poet-turned-senator (based on Claro M. Recto)...
“Portrait,” directed by José Mari Avellana, is the first Filipino play by Rep since “Miong” (1999), the musical about Emilio Aguinaldo. More Filipino plays, please.
The brilliant Mindanao-based Sining Kambayoka, founded by poet-playwright Frank G. Rivera, celebrated its 35th anniversary with “Arkat a Lawanen” (at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino of the CCP), a romantic tale about a kidnapped princess and the resulting conflicts between kingdoms, which showcased the members’ skill in singing, dancing, music-making, acting, even bravura dancing.