Two Musicals: Katy the Musical and Les Miserables

I had the chance to watch Two Musicals last weekend: Katy the Musical last Saturday, and Les Miserables on Sunday. Katy the Musical for the sake of Dulce fangirling, and Les Miserables, as part of the ‘Book Club’ review I’m having with my friends. Some thoughts:

Isay Alvarez plays Katy dela Cruz in Katy the Musical
Isay Alvarez plays Katy dela Cruz in Katy the Musical

Katy the Musical (2013)

Starring Isay Alvarez as Katy dela Cruz, Tirso Cruz III, Aicelle Santos, Lou Veloso, Dulce, Gian Magdangal. Staged by Spotlight Artists in cooperation with the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Directed by Nestor de Villa , Music by Ryan Cayabyab – with Joey Reyes working on the Libretto. 

1. I didn’t expect it to be fun, in the least, But it really was! I haven’t watched a lot of Filipino musicals – so I might be generalizing, but for me Filipino Musicals tend to be peppered with social commentary, if not overly dramatic or nationalistic. This one however, is just plain fun. Maybe because it is in Katy dela Cruz’s personality to be fun, loud and full of energy, and it reflects in a lot of things such as the funny banter between her and the people in her life (especially with her Father, played by Tirso Cruz III), her jazzy uptake on traditional songs and her attention-grabbing Bodabil dancing. This is not to say though that only comedic moments are found in the film. Of course, life during the American-Japanese period was not that easy, as well as living with a difficult husband. Maybe the fact that you have a live Big Band performing such as AMP conducted by Mel Villena, also added to the liveliness of the whole play.

2. Amazing Performances – I was in awe with the performance of the Kid Katy (played by either Yedda Lambuhon and Leana Tabunar according to an Inquirer article – I didn’t really catch the name) who can belt out Jazz songs with a matching dance number – I was really wondering kung saan niya nakuha yung boses na yun – the type of “growling” jazz singing which I thought only adults can do. I was really impressed with her and Aicelle Santos, the bit-older Katy. It seems like can naturally sing Jazz. The most memorable performance for me however was the duet between the Younger Katy and Olivia – played by Dulce, titled – “Minsan ang Minahal ay Ako”. In fact every song sang by Dulce during the musical was so heartfelt and moving – I can’t help but write a line from Minsan.. on my planner because it was stuck in my head and was so emotional.

3. A History Lesson – Aside from the performances, I also appreciated the fact that I got a history lesson of sorts. The 30s-40s is something that’s not really talked about in history lessons in class, I don’t really have any idea of how people lived back then – much more what the means of entertainment during those days. Through the show I saw how Bodabil probably looked like in real life, the low stage lighting that casts shadows on the performers’ faces – na mukha silang multo – , how performers were introduced by a man na mukhang handang makipag-Balagtasan, the tap dancing, juggling musical numbers, basically the play gives you a peek on how entertainment was like back then. Another enjoyable fact was the trivia that you can discover: That Mary Walters was actually a Hawaiian Dancer way back – I thought all these time that she was a serious actress, how Katy and Dolphy, and even Gloria Romero, did Bodabil together. I kinda realize that our love for entertainment: the song and dance type, is still true until today – in the form of Sunday Musical variety shows. 
Les Miserables (2012)
I’m not really a fan of foreign musicals, I mean they’re okay. Les Miserables in movie form though was good enough, and I actually enjoyed it. Probably since it is was in a movie format, you can easily grasp what the story is all about – and I find myself saying how it actually has a good story: how a span of 20+ years and a whole bunch of characters was interweaved into the story of Jean Valjean is a showcase of pure genius. Maybe the fact that it was also a movie makes it more relatable, than it being staged. I’ve watched some musicals before, and I noticed that musicals have this tendency to focus on the songs and how it was sung on stage. The focus tend to be on the showmanship rather than telling the story. In the movie, it’s more realistic, emotion-wise, as well as setting wise, since you can’t actually fit everything into a theater. This being said, I would probably not get it if I watch it on Broadway – and would probably just enjoy the music, which was grand and majestic by the way – the type that would make you want to raise your fist and march in pride. 

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