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A disturbing Filipino musical theater

 

GEORGE VAIL KABRISTANTE

In post-modernistic term, the passion of Vince Tañada to commit his life to theater is uniquely revolutionary and pathbreaking being the artistic director of Philippine Stagers Foundation (PSF).

Here, his goal is to rectify errors in history committed against the Filipino people by historians from within and without of skewed mindset and ulterior motive.


Vince Tañada, in a manner of speaking, is antedated by the dear departed Wilfredo Maria Guerrero, National Artist for Theater, whose advocacy was to bring his mobile theater to the countrysides outside of the University of the Philippines campus.

Dictated perhaps by the social and political issues of the time, Vince’s kind of theater is far more soul-stirring if agitating. Its content is insightful as it is entertaining. It is the only theater company with regular annual full booking engagements through most regions of the country.

Fortuitously, Vince has found a seasoned collaborator in the genius of Musical Director Pipo Cifra, a Bedan co-alum and multi-awarded graduate of Music major in Piano and Composition from the UST Conservatory of Music.

Pipo has breathed equally his best revolutionary compositions into all of the prodigious books and librettos of his zeitgeist partner-dramaturge Vince since the inception of PSF in 2002.

Vince Tañada

PSF’s is now on its 18th season with “Sindak 1941.” Like his past compelling masterpieces, the content of Vince’s material on hand borders on the country’s lesser known historical blunder. It makes President Manuel L. Quezon nothing short of a collaborator when he offered Gen. Douglas MacArthur $ 500,000 to make him fulfil his promise, “I shall return!”

To Vince, Gen. MacArthur was mistaken for a hero by the misinformed. When he returned the Filipino revolutionaries were already winning the war.

Historical records showed only 12 out of 40 provinces was left to the Japanese forces and was bound to decimate in the coming months.

All these revelations come through life in the vibrant and piped-in full orchestra of Pipo Cifra as if I were transported once again to my last culture vulture stint at La Scala of Milan. The solid tenor of lead actor-director Vince Tanada resonated in magnificence with his co-actor’s firm baritone Johnrey Rivas. So with the rest of the singing ensemble in sterling pitch-perfect honed through the test of time spent in the company.

The choreography of Carlos Josol Matobato is world-class and I daresay can hold a candle to the best of Broadway. The expansive yet minimal set of Jeffrey Ambrosio highlighted for the most part the authentic silhouettes of costume designer Emy Tanada (Vince’s mom) as caught in the dynamic seamless lighting design of John Paul Santos.

In all, the musical is an engaging piece of spectacular epic theater akin to an elevating opera. It crackles with amazing realism through the shocking images of blood, gore and violence staged integrally in the skirmishes between the guerrilla revolutionaries and the Japanese.

It argues further that more than one million Filipinos have perished in an unwavering act of heroism against the Japanese invaders long before MacArthur returned.

* * *

Guess Who? The obsessive lover- starlet (OLS) is shamelessly cohabiting now in the abode of her emerging lover-actor to the dismay of the actor’s father who threatened to leave his son if he does not let go of her. OLS was heard saying, “good riddance to you Papa Bear!” Clue: OLS has fallen out of grace from her network.

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Today’s Front Page February 19, 2020

Today’s Front Page February 19, 2020