Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

The night the audience laughed… and cried

Posted on February 17, 2019 by jimparedes

The night the audience laughed… and cried

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – February 17, 2019 – 12:00am

It was a night that around 500 people will remember for a long time. I’m talking about the night of Feb. 10 at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater at BGC.

Boboy Garrovillo, Sonny Santiago, Tato Garcia, Gus Cosio, Lito de Joya, Chito Kintanar and I — all original APO members in college — got together and bought a night of performance of Eto Na! MusikalnAPO, the hit musical. We did this to raise funds for fellow APO member Butch Dans who is sick with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). He was a heavy smoker for decades.

We planned this three months ago in 2018. I was told by Santi Santamaria, head honcho of 9Works (which produced the musical), that it would have a rerun in February 2019. We immediately reserved a night.

We went all-out and called friends, friends of friends, relatives, classmates, fans; we put out the message on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Soon enough, we sold the bulk of the tickets pretty fast. Everyone was supportive of the cause.

To be sure, the musical was not a hard sell. It was already on its second run. During the first run last August, it mostly ran full house and got a standing ovation every show. It was no surprise, then, that when we started selling, people responded positively.

We wanted the night to be different from all the other showings. We had cocktails. We served delicious canapés and Bay of Gold tuna and salmon on crackers. We also had wine.

We decided early on that we wanted to offer some kind of a surprise to the audience. We planned on getting the original APO members to sing two songs in the lobby during intermission. It got us all excited.

A few days before the show, we met to practice the numbers we used to sing as a big group then. All in all, 12 people have come and gone from APO over the years, some for just a short time. Two songs we often sang then were There is a Meeting, by Joe and Eddie, and In the Still of the Night by the Four Tops.

During rehearsals, memories of high school and college came flooding in. All of a sudden, it seemed we were not in our 60s, age-wise, but back in our teenage years. We were young, full of energy and noisy. We were teasing each other, as we used to then. We were smiling, even giggling during practice as we recalled stories of gigs, and crazy times in high school and early college. As the cliché line goes, it seemed like only yesterday.

With older, somewhat untrained voices now, we mostly could not sing the songs in their original key. They were too high. Boboy and I were the guitarists and we had to make adjustments by lowering the key from A to G. It was still high, but it was more manageable.

image: http://media.philstar.com/images/the-philippine-star/lifestyle/sunday-life/20190216/SL4-Lydia-Paredes.jpg

Lydia Paredes (right) and the crowd react.
We practiced on and off for about a two hours, in between laughter and stories.

A day before the show, my daughter Ala arrived from Sydney to watch. On the day of the show, we came in early and ran through the songs two more times. The audience showed up early to enjoy the cocktails. There were video screens in the room showing a collage of early APO photos.

On the spur of the moment, we decided to sing then and there, instead of waiting for intermission, since the people were already gathered in one place. Butch Dans, who was not confirmed to show up, was suddenly there. We plugged in the mics and guitars and started singing. Right from the start, the people gathered and sang with us. They shouted out comments, laughed at our jokes, and relished a few stories that we narrated.

The gig went quite well despite the technical difficulties with mics and guitars. We were ecstatic. The people who watched were all smiles. Many were remembering their own youthful days. Some were watching us for the first time and were quite moved by the love we had for Butch and for the warm camaraderie we all shared.

Soon after, we entered the theater with the rest of the crowd to watch the show.

Everyone was unbelievably high. The members of the cast were so hyped up because the original APO members were present in the audience. They knew they were portraying our story, however loosely, and singing songs we had made. They wanted to give 150 percent effort.

And they sure did.

It was my 14th time to watch the musical. Let me tell you, the cast was at their best. Everything went well. No hitches. The young performers were sharp as knives. Every joke was delivered well, every note played and sung beautifully with much feeling. The audience laughed their hearts out, and cried, too. Eto Na! MusicalnAPO has that effect on people.

Ala was in tears throughout. She was so glad she came home. The songs in the musical had been part of her entire life. She heard many of them being composed at home, and played as records, sung on TV and at countless concerts.

The love and the good feeling was everywhere. The more the audience showed appreciation, the more the cast showed its energy and talent. It was symbiotic. Everyone was soaking in a feeling of pure joy. Surely, Marie Kondo would find nothing to throw away that night.

The cast got a standing ovation amid lusty applause. During curtain call, they pulled us up to the stage to take our bows with them. After bowing, Boboy and I thanked everyone for their support.

The joy spilled out into the lobby as the audience took selfies with the cast and the original APOs. People stayed to share their reactions, to connect, and to just feel the good vibes.

We went home high, joyful, ecstatic, thankful that the Universe had smiled upon everyone who was there. Truly, an unforgettable night for everyone.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2019/02/17/1894209/night-audience-laughed-and-cried#7t0LOgpMQkbDU4tY.99

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