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Walter:
Hey Ishna, u wanna watch Westside Story?

Ishna:
Ayoko. 7 hours yun di ba? Saka hindi ako fan ni Yul Servo eh.

….?

Ahhh! Westside Story… yung theater vehicle for Christian Bautista na muntik nang di matuloy kasi wala masyadong nag-audition. Baka akala ng iba “Batang Westside -The 7-hour Lav Diaz Musicale” ang gagawin. Nakakapagod nga naman yun.

Theater night for the brunch pack turned out to be a couples’ night as well. I was with Gbo, Walter was with Pidro, Burnik was with Tristan and Hans was kilig to the max with his exotically named Jun.

Achullee i was excited about the idea of theater night for the gang rather than the show itself. Though i am familiar with more than just a couple of songs sa Westside Story, sing-along session they do not make. Hello, lungkot-lungkutan kaya and drama. At sobrang luma naman na ang Westside Story,

I feel pretty,
Oh so pretty.
I feel pretty and witty
And GAY!!!!

– Maria

Hello, it was written at a time when the word “gay” meant “happy”. That is unless sobrang ahead of his time si Stephen Sondhiem and Leonard Bernstein and they wrote na veklah pala  talaga si Maria so she is truly “pretty and witty and gay”.

The gang met up sa lobby and did what all self-respecting culture vultures would do… nang-olay kami ng suot ng iba. Yey! The crowd was then let in, and as we were making our way to our seats, we saw Karylle, dressed simply in jeans and oversized jacket, assisting some of her guests to their seats…hmmmm… then it was announced that that night Maria will be played by Joanna Ampil… and the room buzzed with a collective under-the-breath “Yes!”

Not that i have anything against Karylle ha at hindi rin naman ako fan ni Joanna Ampil. Pero levelling lang ‘day.

Joanna= Ms Saigon/Les Miz/West End/ London

Karylle= SOP

Kamusta naman di ba?

In total fairness Joanna delivered. Along with Rowena Villar who played Anita, they showed what world-class talent is all about. Their duet at the second half is to watch of for. The two saved the show from being a total high school musical, the generic kind ha, not the Disney movie.

How about Christian? Well, as long as he sings the ballads, he’s semi-safe. Kasi ok naman ang performance niya but Joanna easily eclipses him without trying. And forget about suspending disbelief about his role as a former top thug of a neighborhood gang. hindi nga believable na kaya niyang sumampa sa cyclone wires eh.

All in all, this Westside Story is a rollercoaster ride that rises whenever the two top femmes are onstage and dips dismally when left in the hands of the woefully less gifted cast.

Other notes:

1. At the halfway mark of the show, everyone started sounding Puerto Rican.

2. Pansin ni Walter: the locals’ accent is not even Puerto Rican, it’s Transylvanian, wahahaahah (thunderclap)

3. May special talent si Gian Magdangal. Kaya niyang magchange ng key sa gitna ng kanta.

4. Much of the magic ng pinagbasehang Westside Story ay nasa dance sequences. Sadly, maski na nirecreate nila ang choreography, di nila narecreate yung magic. Hindi kasi magkasasabay-sabay sa movement. Sa curtain call nga, magba-bow na lang sila hindi pa rin sabay-sabay eh.

5. The most popular song sa musical ay Somewhere. Sa movie, si Tony at Maria lang ito, madamdaming kumakanta. Dito, ang Somewhere ay brought to you by ASAP. Biglang may interpretative dancing at naging dream sequence. Punyeta.

6. Proof na nahirapan ang production to fill in the cast is the presence of one particular vertically challenged actor. Sa isang dance sequence na puno ng high kick at big snappy steps, ang kick niya parang naninipa lang ng pusa sa kalye at sa ending nakatakbo na at nakaslide across the stage ang ibang dancers, siya tumatakbo pa lang sa gitna. Kung may magi-stage ng Snow White sa pinas, may sure job na siya. Hi-ho!

7. Sa end ng Westside movie, nagtulong ang mga Sharks at Jets bitbitin ang bangkay ni Tony as a sign of unity. Sa version na ito, hindi lang binitbit ang bangkay ni Tony… may lifting talaga. Ate Vi should be so proud! May legacy na pala siya sa Philippine theater.

At ang nakakaloka, dahil nga in-overhead lift nga ang bangkay ni Tony, hindi abot ni vertically challenged actor ang body para maki-lift. Raise his hand na lang siya at mukhang nagpray over sa bangkay. Sana ijinoin na niyang ipray over yung show at magpasalamat na hindi nga ito Batang Westside – The Musical.

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