Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Eto na! Musical nAPO!

Posted on August 04, 2018 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – August 5, 2018 – 12:00am

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It was not the first offer we had received.

Many individuals had approached the APO with plans to launch a new musical based on the hits we had made through the years. A movie called Idobidobidoo was created some years back which was based on APO’s hits. But APO’s music had never been used in any theatrical production. There were a few people who approached and presented us with rough storylines. Some sought our permission without anything concrete on paper. None of them grabbed our attention.

Around five months ago, Robbie Guevara, Anna and Santi Sta Maria of 9 Works called for a meeting to interest me in a project they had in mind. 9 Works had been doing theatrical projects for almost a decade, successfully producing plays and musicals in English, including popular Disney theater shows. They recently restaged Himala earlier this year to critical acclaim. For the rest of the year, they wanted to do something they had not done before. They wanted to create an original musical and they thought that APO’s repertoire was the right material to play with.

During that meeting, they ran the story by me including how the songs would fit in. Rough as it was, I liked what I heard. 9 Works had also talked to Boboy and Danny about the project. It did not take long for us to agree and give our go signal.

About a month later, Robbie invited me to sit through a reading to see my reactions and give suggestions. The story was simple. It was about a barkada in college circa 1975 that wanted to participate in a singing and songwriting contest. The plot is interspersed with the love stories of the cast amidst the martial law years. Robbie wanted to hear my comments about the characters and the plot and ask me more about what life was like during that era.

The reading I attended featured a slightly modified script that had already been developed from the one they’d sent earlier. It had new elements. I liked it. But Robbie knew it needed a lot more revisions before it was ready for a paying audience.

Some weeks and 21 revisions later, he invited me again, this time to watch the rehearsals. I was so elated with what I saw. The script and the music were a great fit. The story line was clear. The unraveling of the plot was exciting. The characters were distinct and quite lovable, and the few songs they had already arranged were uniquely and beautifully interpreted and performed. The musical was clearly coming to life in a wonderful way.

I’ve always believed that to entertain people is to surprise and delight them. The aim is to let them experience something that is not only new but like no other.

I wished everyone involved good luck and left for Sydney a few days later. I came back last July 31. Three days ago, I finally watched the musical on stage. Before the show, Robbie told me I was about to watch revision No. 33. Quite honestly, I was not prepared to see what I saw. I was more than surprised and delighted. I was ecstatic!

From the last rehearsal I saw a month earlier, it had transformed into a wonderful stage musical with amazingly beautiful and solid musical arrangements by Orly de la Cruz and Daniel Bartolome. The choreography by PJ Rebillida was delightfully brilliant. The entire cast showed great singing, acting, dancing and wonderful comic timing. There were so may highlights in the show. Everything worked flawlessly. There were no scenes or performances that were lacking. The whole musical was superb. Overall, there was that feel-good quality served in generous servings that knocked the audience off its feet.

I felt that the whole creative universe that we in the APO had inhabited through the decades when we were performing and writing our songs was explored to the fullest. The humor, angst, wit, lightness and seriousness, the bold spirit and originality of OPM, the Filipinoness unfolded magically on stage. The audience responded with a standing ovation.

Alas, I must stop right here since I am obviously a biased source. Instead, let me quote reactions from members of the audience.

“As I watched everything unfold, I could not help but feel sentimental and emotional as the songs of the APO has been an integral part of our lives. It is a show that cannot be missed.” — Franco Laurel, actor

“Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! is jukebox musical done well: infusing the very soul of APO Hiking Society’s music in its storytelling. Superbly takes the period piece route instead of relying on nostalgia. Offers plenty of surprises, including a breakout performance from Jobim Javier.” — Nikki Francisco, Theater Fans Manila

“Just saw Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! and it was such great fun and I’ve a renewed appreciation for the music of APO Hiking Society. So much fun!” — Wanggo Gallaga, writer

“Got to watch the technical preview of this musical and I loved it. Really enjoyed the story, comedy, acting (Sonny was my favorite) and to top it off the amazing songs of APO.” — Sam Milby, actor

“I went down memory lane tonight through APO’s music, the soundtrack of my youth. I really enjoyed watching friends hamming it up, prancing about and being emotional on stage. Benta ang mga jokes! Saka yung scene ni Raul Montesa sa huli, panalo! Iba talaga ang music ng APO. Magaan sa tenga.” —Raymund Concepcion, theater actor (father of actor Sam Concepcion, and Red Concepcion, the new “Engineer” in the US touring cast of Miss Saigon).

After the show, a millennial told me, “Frankly, I did not expect to connect to all the songs” (since most were written before he was born). “But I did.” It was a delight to hear that.

I want to give special thanks to the Globe Live Team for being co-producers with 9 Works amd suppoting creative endeavors such as this. I thank 9 Works’ Santi and Anna, Robbie Guevara and Jon Jon Martin and the entire effort that brought all this to life. The musical runs all weekends of August. Tickets are available at Ticket World. There are matinees and evening shows on some days.

Do not miss this! You won’t be sorry.


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