Actually, I wholeheartedly agree with the Play’s write up in the Program; Sugarfree songs are bound to made into musicals. What made me such a fan of Sugarfree songs is its in heart-wrenching lyrics, and majority of them are in Filipino, which for me, as a Filipina, makes it all the more heart-wrenching, makabagbag-damdamin, ‘ika nga. So when someone finally made that happen, I knew I had to get tickets right away.
Once again, I journeyed to Quezon City at PETA’s Eymard Drive Theater to catch the April 14 3pm show. (I just have to put this observation, I think I’m bound to visit this theater at least once a year, like an annual ritual or pilgrimage or something, 2011 was for Caredivas, 2012 was for Bona, and 2013 was for this). I was a bit shocked to find that the theater was not packed to the Brim, just a sizeable crowd, because I for the past few years I’ve been to PETA theater, it was always full, whether it is a 3pm or an 8pm show. But well, it’s near the opening date, and the play’s still bound to get traction. I think it deserves a full house though.
The play explores the relationship dynamics between up-and-coming photographer Topper, his Medical Practitioner girlfriend of 4-or-more (?) years Lexi, and the soulmate Magazine-Editor Gabbi. The whole story looks like how one great relationship, full of love, hopes and dreams and potential can turn into a mundane and stressful ritual. And this was presented in a play in a non-linear fashion, well, sort of, which was really clever on the writers part, and an ingenious way of revealing the plot because it makes you pay attention to everything. It somewhat reminded me of Cloud Atlas with its unusual way of story-telling. [Spoiler Alert: It’s like watching something on rewind, you could imagine it as a youtube video and scrolling from the end to the beginning.] I guess my advice to anyone who’s bound to watch this is to REALLY pay attention to every scene, what is said, what’s being talked about. At the end of the show, you’ll bound to tie up everything, and you’ll be recalling in your head who said what, what happened after this. I actually want to watch this again just to ensure that what I got in my head was right!
This was what filled my head riding the E.Rodriguez jeepney going home. I’m glad I made the decision to buy the program, and look at the list of songs sang through out the play. Probably being a Sugarfree fan helped, because seeing the order of the songs, and then singing them in my head – recalling the lyrics piece by piece, I can remake the story in my head. For example, ah, “Ikaw Pala” – which goes something like – “Nandyan ka lamang pala \ Di ka lang nagsasalita \ Ikaw pala \ ang aking hinahanap” this was the song Topper and Lexi sang to each other in bed, afterwhich came “Ang Pinakamagaling na Tao sa Balat ng Lupa” – whose lyrics sarcastically talks about a person who thinks he knows everything – this was the scene wherein Lexi and Topper were fighting. I guess being able to piece the story together with just the lyrics means that the writers have effectively weaved the lyrics into a solid narrative, that you can use the lyrics as a cue which will make you remember everything. Wow. If that isn’t laudible then I don’t know what is.
As for the performers, they were convincing enough and they sound good to the ears. Vic Robinson as Topper singing was like having Ebe Dancel sing in a musical, he sang the songs clearly and simply, no-frills and Broadwayish-Styling, which is what I think should be the treatment for Sugarfree songs (they’re emotional enough already). For his performance though I think he was a bit..stiff in the first few scenes, but then he started loosening-up at the second-half and shined until ending, you can’t help but be charmed by his character. I liked how, together with his co-actors Laura Cabochan as Lexi and Justine Pena as Gabbi, they were able to portray their characters convincingly, how do you put this…you’ll have no doubts whether they’re in love, they really look and act in love. Lexi was annoying at the beginning when everything was breaking down, and really sweet when things were still going smoothly – you’ll have to wonder if she really was the same girl throughout the play, why was I annoyed with her again? Justine Pena had no problems projecting her inner Artsy-Fartsy indie girl side – sorry, I loved her character, Gabbi. I loved her interaction with Topper, they really looked good together. Pero yun nga, may sabit (haha). As for the Broadway-dification of Sugarfree songs for the play, its not like its been modified into something unrecognizable, I think the songs were modified in order to highlight the emotion of the song, or something that would fit the scene where the song was used. Sugarfree fans need not cringe at the thought of it being modified.
Anyway, anything that made me think for me is something good. I think good art does that to you, and this is what this play did to me. It made me think about relationships, how what happened in the story can be something real, how people can change and if you can still love the person despite that, and if I really want a relationship (LOL! Ang stress kasi)…I was actually relieved that I’m single. It made me sing along (quietly of course) with the characters. The Live Band treatment made it more awesome. Sugarfree fans should go see it just to be amazed that you can actually take all of Sugarfree songs and make a musical out of it. Musical Theater should go see it just so they can see that you can make a musical out of OPM songs. But I think just for its story alone, people should go see it. Its a very real reflection and portrayal of a relationship in today’s times, of course, in an entertaining kind-of way.
Sa Wakas: A New Pinoy Rock Musical runs every weekend for the whole month of April at the PETA Theater, Eymard Drive, Quezon City. Featuring the songs of OPM Rock Band Sugarfree, created and Produced by Charissa Ann Pammit and Directed by Andrei Nikolai Pamintuan. Musical arrangement and Direction by EJ Yatco.