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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

entry arrow2:21 PM | Broadway Bound

I have no idea what got into my head last summer when, before the start of the current cultural season of Silliman University—we’re now enjoying our 52nd year—I told our Cultural Officer, Prof. Diomar Abrio, about my dream for this year’s Silliman Performs, which is our annual revue featuring the best performing talents in campus.

“I want Broadway,” I think I must have said. “I want the lights, I want the sass, I want the tunes that wash over like no other kind of popular music can—it gets your body moving with drama. And I want to direct the segment on Rent!”

“I like that,” fellow Cultural Affairs Committee member Leo Mamicpic chimed in. “And why don’t we feature songs from musicals that don’t readily get performed in showcases like this?”

Like how it usually happens when we do our “mugna” about things cultural, the dream of a Broadway revue eventually started rolling out into slow fruition, and it fell on Mark Ian Caballes to become the overall director of the show, putting together what pieces to perform, and painstakingly finding, arranging, and transcribing with a group of musicians from the College of Performing and Visual Arts the Broadway tunes we wanted to finally perform. Angelo Sayson choreographs the dance numbers of the show.

And so finally, on August 22 and then 26, we will pay tribute to the music of the stage and film, in time for the 113th Founders Day celebration of Silliman University.

And why Broadway for this show? Our show’s writer, Warlito Caturay Jr., mused over that question as well, and he wrote: “Since the 19th century, Broadway musicals have been an integral part of the American cultural life. Trips to New York would not be complete if one did not see the bright lights of Broadway, or watch and experience stories come alive on stage, or suspend disbelief just to accept for a brief moment that life could happen in between musical numbers. The whole world has embraced Broadway, but a question must be asked: why do we, Filipinos, living in a country geographically removed from Broadway, have also fallen head over heels in love with musicals, be it on stage or films? Silliman Performs Broadway attempts to answer this question.”

The show will feature excerpts from such beloved musicals as The Sound of Music, Porgy and Bess, West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, La Cage Aux Folles, Chicago, The King and I, Showboat, Wicked, Dreamgirls, Rent, The Fantasticks, Les Miserables, and Carousel.

Its performers include both veterans of the Luce stage, as well as newly-discovered talents set to soon make names for themselves, hopefully, in local theatre.

There's Caleb Santos ostensibly counselling (and yet really flirting with) Jessa Cabading about the intricacies of love at a tender age in the courtship song from The Sound of Music. From the same musical, there's Cheryl Lyn Sitoy-Antonio as Maria, essaying its iconic musical education song. There's Katrina Tiongson Saga, now with the Philippine Madrigal Singers, who returns to Dumaguete to sing the gorgeous ballad from Porgy and Bess. There's Dessa Quesada-Palm as West Side Story's Anita, grappling with Melody Enero's about the tumultuous demands of first love that defy social expectation. There's Manolito Saldivar and Maria Elcon Cabasag ruminating about love in the excerpt from The Fantasticks. There's Warlito Caturay Jr. coming to terms with a fabulous identity in La Cage aux Folles. There're the Alphabet City bohemians from 1989 New York -- composed of Earnest Hope Tinambacan, Louise Remata-Villanueva, Onna Rhea Quizo, Jia de la Cruz, Manuel Jarabe Jr., Ian Lester Gue, Yeshhua Quizo, James Milan, Shamah Bulangis, James Alkene Lamuna, Anna Katrina Espino, and yours truly -- singing about the measures of a life in Rent. There's Japheth Babanto and Renna Dedal's duet about highs and lows of friendship in Wicked. There's Glenn Magdura's anguished Jesus contemplating the gathering darkness from Jesus Christ Superstar. There's Elana Joy Bartlett getting to know her charge in The King and I with the Silliman University Dance Trope. There's Nierru Cabilao leading the carnal and jazzy charge in dance with selected students from the Speech and Theatre Department in Chicago. There's Lemoine Poligrates bemoaning love and its consequences in Show Boat. There's Fritz Figueras belting out a song about transformation in Dreamgirls. And then there're Rigel Suarez, Frankie Cardona, Cristiani Rebada, Novie Lyne Flores, Calvin Klein Galbinez, James Alkene Lamuna, Japheth Babanto, and Renna Dedal in their electrifying chorus with the Silliman University Campus Choristers singing of a hopeful tomorrow from Les Miserables.

I love show tunes. They’re a different breed of musical expression that seems to transcend culture. I love the spectacle of light and sound, and the idea that there is a way for ordinary people to just break into song and dance. Silliman University has had a rich tradition of staging musical plays in campus, and this revue promises to be a distillation of that long line of theatrical productions. And hopefully, maybe one of these segments will translate into a full-blown musical after 2011’s Godspell and 2012’s Into the Woods. Who knows, maybe we can do Jesus Christ Superstar soon? Or perhaps Rent? Such promises, such possibilities…

Silliman Performs Broadway is a special Founders Day presentation of the Cultural Affairs Committee, and no season passes will be honored. Tickets are available at P200, P300, and P500. All tickets and season passes for Luce Auditorium shows are available for sale at the CAC Office at the College of Performing and Visual Arts Building II, and at the theater lobby before the show begins. For ticket reservations and other inquiries, call (035) 422-4365 or 0917-513-3312.

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