Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hairspray by Atlantis Productions

movie poster
If you enjoyed the musical movie Hairspray, you will surely enjoy the play. Just to set the record straight --- the musical play came first. And while the stories are basically the same, there are definite differences ... in sequence and execution of scenes and the play has one more song than the movie did. Also, as I told my daughter last night, the movie version was "Disneyfied". Hairspray (the play) has many lewd and suggestive actions that actually make sense and fit in the story which are missing (or glazed over) in the movie. In my opinion, while this is a fun play, it should have a PG rating.

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to watch the technical rehearsal of Hairspray last night (12 Nov. 2008 at 8pm) at the Star Theater (adjacent to Star City at the CCP Complex). I like watching technical rehearsals because it shows me the level of prepareness the company has before the actual performance.

I really enjoyed the show. I found all the actors were great! The cast was definitely well assembled. Vocally, though, I personally found Madel (Tracy) and Tim (Link) lacked the training that was apparent in the other actors (and this includes the ensemble). I chalk it up to not enough experience in musicals where one is required to sing, dance, and act at the same time. Despite the lack of conviction in singing, though, I found their earnestness and embodiment of their role quite endearing. Their characterization was believable, and therefore, while they didn't quite have the singing chops, I found it forgiveable.They made a really cute couple onstage and Madel, in particular, played the role of schoolgirl with a crush (in other words, "kilig na kilig") perfectly! You could almost hear her saying, "Oh Link! I can just eat you up! Ngrawr! Slurp!"

Michael de Mesa as Edna Turnblad
Michael de Mesa as Edna Turnblad was wonderful --- as I expected. He was the main reason I wanted to watch the show. The last play I saw him in was Rent in the role of Tom Collins but I have seen him in various movies and TV shows before and after that and he has proven to be a well seasoned actor who can do just about anything! In the song "Mama, I'm A Big Girl Now" I found it amusing that he was the most feminine of all the actors on stage, where every one else WAS female. I don't know if anyone else will agree with me but ... I actually preferred his performance to that of John Travolta's. Unlike in the original Broadway soundtrack Michael was even able to sound like a woman who sounds like a man, rather than a man pretending to be a woman.

Click HERE to read the interview of Female Network with Michael de Mesa on playing a woman.

Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo is, as always, phenomenal onstage. I last saw her as The Baker's Wife in Into The Woods and I find it incredible that the full-bodied voice comes out of that slim body. As Velma Von Tussle she is very classy and snotty and fit the role to a T.

Dulce is a singing legend and no one can doubt that she has the singing chops to play Motormouth Maybelle. Her acting left me cold, though. She knew her lines, no doubt about that. She had the correct inflection and gesticulation. But somehow, it didn't feel like she connected with the audience. At times it felt like she was so focused on her lines that she was looking inward. In the company production number of "You Can't Stop The Beat" she had a lot of words to say and she had to say it to the audience but she did not make eye contact with anyone. Perhaps it is just nerves. I'm sure she will do better during the actual run.

I knew Nyoy Volante could sing. I suspected that he could act. But I was surprised that he could dance!. As Seaweed Stubbs he had to do some moves that the other "kids" didn't do. So, he moonwalked, did a little strut, etc.

Gabe Mercado (formerly of Da Pulis) and Enchang Kaimo (former ABS-CBN newsman, Mari's better half, and accomplished thespian) were great in their multiple roles. I found myself waiting in anticipation for what character either would come out as next and laughing out loud every time they did.

The rest of the ensemble blew me away, especially the ladies who played the roles of The Dynamites. Whoooeee! Those ladies can blow!

Productions like these are judged not just for the actors on the stage for they are but one aspect of the show. We also have to take into account the stage design, lighting, sounds, costumes, choreography, and directing. The people in charge of the sound system need to step up their act. After all the rehearsals, and this close to the actual run, you'd THINK they would know their cues already. So why weren't the lapel mics turned on when they were supposed to --- like when actors entered the stage. I can be forgiving for when the sound disappears in the middle of an actor's performance --- snafu's happen. But not mics that are off during entrances. I couldn't help but think that either a) the guy on the sound board is not paying attention and therefore, keeps missing the cues or b) the guy has no idea of the cues at all and is just winging it.

From left to right: Nyoy Volante (Seaweed J. Stubbs), Tim Espinosa (Link Larkin), Monica Reynoso (Penny Pingleton), Madel Ching (Tracy Turnblad), Dulce (Motormouth Maybelle, and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo (Velma Van Tussle)
Cast of Atlantis Productions' Hairspray
  • Madel Ching as Tracy Turnblad
  • Tim Espinosa as Link Larkin
  • Michael de Mesa as Edna Turnblad
  • Leo Rialp as Wilbur Turnblad
  • Christine Allado sa Amber Von Tussle
  • Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Velma Von Tussle
  • Nyoy Volante as Seaweed J. Stubbs
  • Dulce as Motormouth Maybelle
  • Monica Reynoso as Penny Pingleton
  • Noel Rayos as Corny Collins
  • Gabe Mercado as the male authority figure
  • Enchang Kaimo as the female authority figure
  • The ensemble is composed of the following actors: Jordan Aguilar, Emy Alcid, Caisa Borromeo, Mayen Bustamante-Cadd, Erika Cedilla, Red Concepcion, Gerlin Francisco, Bea Garcia, Crienna House, Yanah Laurel, Cheeno Macaraig, Michael Odoemene, Anthony Ong, Myrene Santos, Mark Tayag, Lee Villoria

Hairspray is directed by Bobby Garcia, choreography by Cecile Martinez, sets and costumes by Gino Gonzales, lighting design by Shoko Matsumoto and Musical Director Archie Castillo conducts FILharmoniKA. It runs from 14 November to 07 December 2008 at the Star Theatre, CCP Complex.

For those who are still looking to purchase tickets, here is Hairspray's show buyer directory:

Day/Time Show Buyer Contact No. Email
Opening Night

14 Nov. 2008 (Friday, 8pm) Timothy Liong +639178735405
15 Nov. 2008 (Saturday, 2pm) Allan Marasigan +639174382299
15 Nov. 2008 (Saturday, 8pm) Fritzie Villacorta +639178337489
16 Nov. 2008 (Sunday, 3pm) Michelle Chan +639175393369
16 Nov. 2008 (Sunday, 8pm) Rosanne Unson +639178300312
21 Nov. 2008 (Friday, 8pm) Atlantis Productions


22 Nov. 2008 (Saturday, 2pm) Camille Bautista

22 Nov. 2008 (Saturday, 8pm) Shirley Alinea +639178903564
23 Nov. 2008 (Sunday, 3pm) Jill Pena +639193608974
23 Nov. 2008 (Sunday, 8pm) Timothy Liong +639178735405
28 Nov. 2008 (Friday, 8pm) Andrea Go +639178867968
29 Nov. 2008 (Saturday, 2pm) Theody Demaisip +639209326067
29 Nov. 2008 (Saturday, 8pm) Joelle Orca
30 Nov. 2008 (Sunday, 3pm) Jill Pena +639193608974
30 Nov. 2008 (Sunday, 8pm) Janna Chua
Roan Isberto

05 Dec. 2008 (Friday, 8pm) Ticketworld +6328919999
06 Dec. 2008 (Saturday, 2pm) Lorna Lopez +639179256505
07 Dec. 2008 (Sunday, 3pm) Theody Demaisip +639209326067
Closing Night

07 Dec. 2008 (Sunday, 8pm) Mae Castro +639063414559

I would definitely recommend this musical to my family and friends. Guaranteed fun for everyone!

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