Review: ISLAND SONG is Worth the Watch, Amid Streaming Hiccups

“Island Song” closes today, December 5.

Review: TWENTY QUESTIONS, 20 Years LaterManila, Philippines--Staging "Island Song" virtually seems to fit in this pandemic season since live events are currently limited in the Philippines. However, Artremix Productions successfully made it possible to inspire theater enthusiasts and practitioners not to lose hope, as if theater is still alive [physically]. The internet could also be a platform to present a play or musical, but the difference is that it has to be either pre-recorded or be done live online. This first production of Artremix has various talented actors from different theater organizations, which means all of them are trained very well and can sing.

The musical is entertaining from the beginning until the end, mainly because the actors portrayed their roles with great power. There is no particular acting method being applied. Still, it is conspicuous that the actors have studied the script intensely, such as understanding their characters with the given circumstances and the nuances, the dialogues, and the songs. They have filled in details with the characters' backstories otherwise not indicated in the script. It seems they have the freedom to explore and justify their roles.

Director Nico Varona made the show minimalistic and understandable with its story.

The only problem encountered when watching this show was the technical difficulties, which could affect the audience's interest to continue seeing it. There are instances that the uploaded video is buffering and freezing on their end. Somehow, the production has more video links where the watchers can also click if the issue persists. It is a good thing that Artremix has this initiative to provide more options to continue watching this musical. The causes of this problem might be because of the number of people participating to see the show, and it probably has to do with the internet connection. Despite that, it is a free-ticketed musical accessible online, and everyone would be happy to see it.

Review: TWENTY QUESTIONS, 20 Years Later"Island Song" follows the lives of five people, all navigating the ups and downs of New York City, both on their own and, sometimes unknowingly, with each other. Driven by an emotional pop-rock score, the story beautifully illustrates the random yet essential moments when New Yorkers cross each other's paths and how those moments can create a ripple effect. Because the city never slows down, Will, Jordan, Shoshana, Cooper, and Caroline must keep up with their city and their relationships as they search for meaning and connection with their families and those around them.

The musical is not in a literal sense to be relevant to Philippine society, definitely because the environment is in New York and even the most urbanized cities in Metro Manila have different cultures and different economic backgrounds that affect the millennial working demographic, which comprises the characters in the story of "Island Song."

The parallels, according to Varona, probably has to do with how the millennial generation has aspirations in life that may clash with their circumstances, whether it be cultural, gender-specific, or economical. In this regard, pursuing art as a full-time career in the third world would be an arduous task, with the lack of opportunities and the struggles of staying afloat. Following one's dreams may lead to strained relationships, disillusionment, and creating genuine connections and relationships within the same pool of people who are emotionally drained or damaged with the demands of modern ways of life.

The relatable thing that can be identified as a Filipino experience in the musical is the unwavering sense of hope despite all the odds. All the characters in the story would experience hardships and low points, but they never snapped and quit. This is familiar territory to the Filipinos. They continue to aspire for better days, better careers, better relationships, better government, and better ways of life.

Review: TWENTY QUESTIONS, 20 Years LaterDippy Arceo, who played Jordan, stood out with her sassy approach when she was introduced. The character's bone structure has been portrayed effectively with her consistency in being an ambitious, sexy lawyer. She has justified who Jordan is in the story--the one who works hard and plays hard and is deeply engrossed in a dysfunctional love affair with the city. Nonetheless, Arceo does appear to have that potential in musical theater. She indeed performed "I'll Take it All" ideally, which is the highlight of her performance.

On the other hand, Jillian Ita-as did her best as well on playing the character of Shoshana. She is undoubtedly the star of the show. Her singing voice is astounding, her acting is impressive. Her performance throughout the show could be the best subject that can be used for Viola Spolin Acting Analysis. Everything about the character is relatable and can easily be identified through her dramatic action, action cycle, and established bone structure. She astonishingly delivered the song "Sing But Don't Tell."

Other actors made it wonderfully as well, specifically in singing. Based on the text, it would be better if they delivered their lines with excellent projection and the most sincere emotions. They are all enjoying their roles with facial expressions that match their character descriptions. The opening song is also powerful. Their sublime voices blended incredibly, and the harmony was absolute perfection.

The best thing about this online presentation of "Island Song" is that actors can work at home to be able to perform through video telephony or cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform. Different theater companies can also do it to continue lifting the power of theater. The only thing that is different here is that group song numbers are not expected to be performed live but pre-recorded and edited, as though there is a possible delay on each person's audio. It is noticeable that every song is filtered to be clearly heard. It means that music editing is imperative to remove background noises and make the music more enjoyable.

Overall, "Island Song" is highly entertaining to watch, but it would also be an excellent suggestion to stage the show in a concert style because it's a revue-song cycle type of musical. It can also be done privately on a small stage, where it can be filmed to make it really be called theater. Nowadays, most theater practitioners don't consider plays to be presented virtually to be called "online plays," as if theater is designed to be done on stage or in a space and be seen in person. Still, the nature of this musical is fascinating, and it is worth the watch. Hands down to the video editor as well!

The full-length musical features music by Derek Gregor, words by Sam Carner, and story by

Sam Carner, Derek Gregor, and Marlo Hunter. Artremix Productions presented the show in one full act.

"Island Song" closes today, December 5.

Get your free tickets at ArtremixProductions.


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