BWW Reviews: TOILET: A New Musical
Manila, Philippines--To talk on the big white phone (to vomit into the toilet), a slang term, has inspired composer and lyricist Ejay Yatco ("Sa Wakas," World Championships of Performing Arts) to create the new musical titled TOILET. If young audiences enjoyed "Grease," Disney's "High School Musical," Disney's "Camp Rock," and FOX TV's "Glee," Blue Repertory's TOILET, would most likely to succeed, too, given further tweaking. If improved, TOILET could attract more young audiences to come to the theater since the musical aims to address the everyday struggles of young adults.
The play, which stars Cassie Manalastas (Tiffany Williams), Franco Chan (Paul Robinson), Bernice Reyes (Dianne Johnson), Nel Gomez (Joey Smith), Mica Fajardo (Lucille Hill), Boo Gabunada (Patty Collins), KC Kane (Therese Wilson), Lorenzo Mendoza (Gus Miller), and Titus Villanueva (Rob Harris), opens with narrator Darrell Uy, a janitor, who is aware of students who often seek refuge in the school's toilet. Each featured character has his or her personal and/or social struggle, i.e., trying to make a difference or trying to fit in school. Apparently, relationships and conflicts get to intertwine in here.
The creators, Yatco and bookwriters Bym Buhain and Miyo Sta. Maria, hit the spot with the love triangle between Lucille, Patty, and Therese; the same is true with the "love square" (another slang term) between Paul, Dianne, Joey, and Tiffany. However, the closeted gay Gus--who falls in love with his teacher Rob, and commits suicide out of a broken heart-- suddenly surfaces out of nowhere and becomes integral to the scheme of things: Suddenly everyone realizes that there is more to life! Although Gus is introduced in the earlier part of the story, unfortunately, there is no continuing storyline to anchor the character.
Besides the show's music and youthful choreography (Credit goes to Jim Ferrer!), some of its actors also deliver the goods: Chan tackles his character a lot better here than his performance in "Bare" (Blue Repertory's previous production); Gomez is very natural and comfortable with his role, Joey; and KC Kane has strong stage presence. However, Boo Gabunada, who plays the promiscuous Patty Collins, needs to be more convincing. Manalastas' singing was very good in "Bare," but not here; Fajardo, who plays the self-righteous Christian girlfriend of Patty, needs to re-read the Bible and earmark the Bible verses that her character recites in the play.
Some set design devices such as the revolving door, which often reveals graffiti art making statements, leads the audience to what the play is trying to convey. Statements such as "This is My Life" and "You are My Fairy Tale" written in luminous paint are quite effective, too.
TOILET, like Disney's 'High School Musical," has one shining lesson: Acceptance and staying true to yourself.
TOILET: A New Musical runs February 19-21 at 8 p.m.; February 22 at 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.; February 26-28 at 8 p.m.; and March 1 at 3 p.m. & 8 p.m. at Gonzaga Exhibit Hall in Ateneo de Manila University. For tickets, contact Poppy Merilleno at (63)9178782239.