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BWW Reviews: FULL GALLOP, Starring Cherie Gil

Cherie Gil plays Diana Vreeland in FULL GALLOP.
Photo: Erickson dela Cruz

Manila, Philippines--Despite fear and stress that Philippine cinema icon Cherie Gil had to go through producing and starring in FULL GALLOP, a play based on the life of Diana Vreeland (1903-1989), noted fashion columnist and editor of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, Gil manages to depict Vreeland as a funny, rapid-fired talker as opposed to being languid and bitchy ala Miranda Priestly in the novel-turned-movie "The Devil Wears Prada."

Donning a Kabuki hair style and a black Japanese style dress (designed by Rajo Laurel), a tusk necklace adorning her chest, matched with a pair of black pumps (designed by Figlia's Joey Enriquez), Gil exudes opulence and elegance on press night.

Bart Guingona ("Red," "Hedda Gabler"), the director of the one-character play, was spot on in casting Gil as the legendary fashion icon Vreeland, which took Guingona about 10 years to convince the actress. FULL GALLOP, written by Mark Hampton and Mary Louise Wilson, premiered Off-Broadway in the mid-90s.

Cherie Gil plays Diana Vreeland in FULL GALLOP.
Photo: Erickson dela Cruz

Set in the early 1970s, at Vreeland's infamous "garden in hell-themed" apartment on Park Avenue, New York, Vreeland has just returned home from Europe--a recent trip she took after being fired from Vogue. FULL GALLOP tackles the inner conflicts of the main character, who has been trying to convince herself that her career is not over yet.

New York-based scenic designer Joey Mendoza's ("Little Women," Jekyll and Hyde") set design for FULL GALLOP is breathtaking; his design features curtains in chintz with patterns that look like vines. Mendoza's other design elements paint a vivid picture of what could have been Vreeland's state of mind during her post-Vogue days.

Gil, on stage, doesn't show any signs of exhaustion--the play runs about one hour, 45 minutes. Perhaps her only break on stage is when her character gets to talk to her assistant, Yvonne, voiced offstage by G Tongi ("The Producers," "Piaf").

The Filipino audience is not that familiar with the life and times of Vreeland. However, Gil's sensitive portrayal of Vreeland bridges the gap between the play's subject matter and the audience, who will get to appreciate Vreeland's invaluable contribution to the fashion industry today.

FULL GALLOP treats the audience to what Vreeland has to say about art, life, and fashion.

The production runs at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium (4th Floor, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Ave. corner Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City) until Sunday, March 23. For tickets, call (632) 215-0788, 639175378313, or Ticketworld (632) 8919999.

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