HIMALA: ISANG MUSIKAL Returns Anew; Show Runs 2/10-3/4

HIMALA: ISANG MUSIKAL Returns Anew; Show Runs 2/10-3/4Manila, Philippines--There's something in this classic that keeps it resurrecting in different forms. "Himala" was originally a 1982 haunting, dramatic film written by Ricky Lee and directed by Ishmael Bernal, which of course starred Nora Aunor.

This year, "Himala" returns to haunt us anew, but this time as a musical set to play the intimate corners of the Power Mac Center Spotlight at Circuit Makati from February 10 to March 4.

Some sort of a special celebration, "Himala: Isang Musikal" will be performed in commemoration of the musical's 15th anniversary. First staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 2003, "Himala" now stars Aicelle Santos as Elsa, a self-proclaimed seer and faith healer in the small town of Cupang.

"This is not a religious play," said stage director Ed Lacson Jr., who made sure the production would be simpler--echoing purely the story and the music written by Vincent De Jesus. "The religiosity element in this piece is merely a product of circumstances."

Lacson added that "the content focuses more on the how Filipinos react given their social concerns and norms." He emphasized that "Filipinos" both as a nation and people, in this kind of a phenomenon, react in a different manner--something that could only occur in the Philippines.

Lacson and de Jesus sat and planned for this new production for three years because they wanted everything done right--from the creatives to casting the show.

For Lacson, who was part of a previous production of 9 Works Theatrical, which is co-producing "Himala" with The Sandbox Collective, working and directing this iteration is an honor and a great homage to the genius mind of Ricky Lee.

HIMALA: ISANG MUSIKAL Returns Anew; Show Runs 2/10-3/4Lee, for his part, shared some of his vivid memories of the original film. Fresh from his incarceration under former President Ferdinand Marcos' martial law regime, he peddled his script for "Himala" from one producer to the other. Eventually, the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines, headed by then-presidential daughter Imee Marcos, approved the script and started looking for a suitable location: a relatively dry place, which ended up in the town of Paoay in Ilocos Norte.

Further, according to Lee, it was a memorable adventure to collaborate with the late film director Ishmael Bernal, a National Artist for film. His fond memories of how the film came to be fueled the creation of a simpler but ingenious stage adaptation nearly 11 years after the show's screening at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1983.

The show's current cast members (most of them) shared it's either they were too young then or they were not even born yet when the film was completed and first released. This production is a fitting homage to the past and a way of reliving the heritage that is "Himala."

Santos, when asked about her preparations for her character "Elsa," noted that up to now "the issues and challenges of the past are still present, which are just varying in images and conditions," and this makes "Himala" a timeless piece--a recurring reflection of the Filipino people.

"Himala" also stars Bituin Escalante, Sandino Martin, Neomi Gonzales, David Ezra, Kakki Teodoro, and Floyd Tena.

Set design is by Lacson; musical arrangement by Jed Balsamo; lighting design by Barbie Tan-Tiongco, and costume design by Carlo Pagunaling.

Buy tickets (P1000 to P2,500) at Ticketworld.com.ph.

Photos: Lorenzo Yabes

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From This Author Jared Echevarria