Photo Flash: Repertory Philippines Presents LITTLE WOMEN
Whether you're seeing a Broadway musical production for the first time or the nth time, we're always confident that Repertory Philippines delivers the most aesthetically and technically polished imported shows in Manila. Recent productions of Broadway Theatre's "Fiddler on the Roof", "Sweeney Todd" and "Equus" were so masterfully crafted -- these local productions can shine alongside plays and musicals playing Broadway and the West End.
Rounding out 2010's bumper crop of live theatre productions, we can now add the short-lived Broadway musical "Little Women" to Repertory Philippines's roster of outstandingly produced shows.
Although smeared with mostly forgettable music and lyrics by Jason Howard and Mindi Dickstein (except for Act One's finale song "Astonishing"), this musical adaptation of American writer Louisa May Alcott's 1896 semi-autobiographical classic novel "Little Women" has managed to triumph onstage with first time director for Repertory Philippines Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo's complete confidence on her cast of performers (most of these actors are first timers on Repertory Philippines's stage; and Caisa Borromeo as Jo March is essaying her first big leading role in the theatre); New York City-based scenographer Joey Mendoza and Manila-based top lighting designer John Batalla's stunning visual scenic projections and lighting effects; Tuxqs Rutaquio's elaborately detailed period costumes; and renowned conductor Gerard Salonga and FILharmoniKA's resplendent orchestral music.
BroadwayWorld.com (Philippines) saw "Little Women's" first Sunday matinee performance on November 21, 2010 wherein women advocacy group Girls Scout of the Philippines presented the holiday family drama. Ms. Borromeo and Repertory Philippines's more veteran thespians Pinky Marquez (Marmee), Cara Barredo (Beth), Joy Virata (Aunt March) and Miguel Faustmann (Mr. Laurence) gave the most memorable performances that day.
It was truly amazing to see Ms. Borromeo breezing through the very demanding role of the second oldest March sister Jo (originally played on Broadway by the very talented Sutton Foster). Her build-up to the show's best moment and most popular show tune "Astonishing" at the end of Act One was sans amateurish "birit" and over-theatrical hysterics, thank goodness -- every lyric and bit of emotion certainly came from the heart!
Ms. Borromeo's duet with Ms. Barredo's dying Beth "Some Things are Meant to Be" in the middle of Act Two was second best heart-tugging segment in the whole production.
The rest of the actors Kelly Lati (Amy), Lora Nicolas (Meg), Jeff Arcilla (Professor Bhaer), Jack Salud (John Brooke), Mayen Bustamante-Cadd (Mrs. Kirk) providEd Strong supporting performances. Unfortunately, Ryan Cayabyab Singers (RCS) alumnus Jamie Barcelon's (Laurie) high notes were all over the place when we saw the production. However, we're relieved to hear that Mr. Barcelon had been improving according to some theatregoers who went to see the show over the weekend.
"Little Women", a 2005 Tony and Drama Desk Award-nominated musical, tells the inspiring story of the March sisters -- Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy while growing up during the American Civil War.
Repertory Philippines's production of "Little Women" runs through Sunday, December 12, 2010 with 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. performances at the at Onstage, 2/F Greenbelt 1, Ayala Center, Makati City. For tickets, call Ticketworld at (632) 891-9999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.
Photos by Boboy Ramiro