Theater review: ‘Binondo’ musical celebrates Chinese-Filipino link

MANILA– In 1986, a Chinese teacher associated with Rebecca Shangkuan Chuaunsu his personal romance. The touching dramatization of his tale stuck with her from that time on.

Greater than Three Decade after that, Chuaunsu frankly took on the reins of imaginative manufacturer to stimulate the creation of an original Filipino musical to share that same haunting tale with the everybody. This year, her major labor of love finally reached its fruition as “Binondo: A Tsinoy Musical” made its opening night on the phase of The Theater at Solaire last weekend.

The year was 1972. On the occasion of the Moon Celebration, a Chinese scholar called Ah Tiong, after that on a 2-week getaway, went down right into the Lotus Club in Manila. There, he was enthralled with the charm of Lily, the featured singer on stage that night.

When Lily fumbles on the lyrics of a Chinese song, Ah Tiong gamely took place stage to sing it with her. From that moment was birthed an undaunted love that would face impossible misfortune.

The function of Lily was played by 2 of the most-sought after leading women in the neighborhood theater scene– Shiela Valderrama-Martinez and also Carla Guevara-Laforteza. I had been able to see both of them end up being Lily in different programs, and I saw that they imbued the personality with distinct individualities.

Shiela’s Lily was sweeter and also reserved; Carla’s Lily was more spirited as well as lively. In either case, it was not difficult to see why both Ah Tiong dropped head over heels in love with her. As outstanding vocalists, both ladies had no trouble navigating the tough songs Lily needed to sing, like “Dito sa Binondo” as well as “Paghihintay.”.

Ah Tiong was played by David Ezra. This award-winning singer-actor had his phase launching only in 2015, but is now a most in-demand leading guy in numerous shows since then. The duty of Ah Tiong was offered a lot of hard tunes with skyrocketing notes to sing, like “Kung Sino Nga Bang Una ay Siya Ring Huli”. In the upbeat number, “Ang Pag-ibig ay Nightclub”, he had to display his dance abilities while singing, always a large challange to manage for any kind of entertainer. Ezra’s voice never faltered, constantly solid and passionate, in his solos, his duets (with Lily, Jasmine or Carlos), and with whole business.

( Ezra’s alternating in this role is Arman Ferrer, whose career had actually grown together with Ezra given that they had actually been sharing the phase or alternating in programs like “La Estrella,” “Mabining Mandirigma” as well as coming quickly later this year, “Side Show.” There is no doubt that Ferrer could also manage the obstacle of playing Ah Tiong.).

The character Carlos is a Manila-born Chinese-Filipino who had been Lily’s good friend because childhood. He was played by Noel Rayos, a phase professional with nearly 100 shows under his belt playing a whole range of diverse roles. As Carlos, he gets to display his comic timing, as well as his dramatic chops.

The role of Carlos additionally gets to sing some punishing songs only the very best vocalists could deliver with self-confidence, like “Dayuhan sa Puso” and also “Ako Ay Pilipino.” I consider the latter song as one of the most substantial tunes in the whole show as it declared that Chinese-Filipinos are undoubtedly true Filipinos, whose loyalty lay with the Philippines, not China– a sentiment that proves out approximately today time.

( Rayos’s alternate in this role is Floyd Tena. I had actually just seen in him on phase two times in the past, in “Maynila Sa Kuko ng Liwanag” and “Himala” in smaller functions. Regrettable I missed his largest function to this day as Carlos which would actually press his vocal and also acting skills to the max.).

Jasmine is Ah Tiong’s childhood years pal back in Beijing as well as the girl he had actually long been betrothed to wed by their moms and dads. She was played by Mariella Laurel. This is the first time I had seen her onstage before and I assumed she stood her ground sturdily within all the brimming singing ability on that phase. Her ideal song for me was “Could Tiwala Ako”– a long-distance duet between her in Beijing as well as Lily in Manila as they profess their count on the man they both love, Ah Tiong.

Mrs. dela Rosa, Lily’s mom, was played as well as sung so incredibly by Ima Castro. Every time she went into her inmost heart as she sang tracks like “Tila Kandila”, we are all drawn into her internal pain substantiated of sincere concern for her daughter’s well being. Lourdes, Lily’s cousin and also adviser, was competently played and also sung by Jennifer Villegas-de la Cruz.

Mr. and also Mrs. Chua, Carlos’s moms and dads, were played by kept in mind operatic tenor Dondi Ong as well as soprano Kay Balajadia-Linggayu. It was a pity that we only reach hear them sing really short verses in the track “Hindi na Magbabago” which they sing with their child Carlos. Russell Magno as well as Elizabeth Chua played Mr. and also Mrs. Zhang, Ah-Tiong’s parents. They reach act and also sing in larger significant scenes of oppression in the numbers “Ang Bagong Tsina” and “Kalimutan na ang Lumang Pag-ibig.”.

The vital personality of 14 year-old schoolgirl Ruby was played very gently by Ashlee Aspect. Also if she only appears in a few scenes in Act 2, she got to supply heartfelt lines as well as sing one of my favorite songs in the whole program, entitled “Patawad.” Her voice possessed a childish top quality that made her best for her tiny yet essential function.

This play used the device of a Greek chorus to tell the goings-on between scenes. They were set apart from the rest of the set by their more ornate costumes and also cosmetics. They also functioned as conscience to numerous personalities– needling them, goading them, teasing them. They additionally got to play a number of other minor characters, either Filipino or Chinese, in the lives of our lead characters.

The stars in the Koro were Jim Pebanco, Lorenz Martinez, Khalil Kaimo, Ellrica Laguardia, Rhapsody Li and also the irrepressible Tuesday Vargas with her scene-stealing shenanigans.

The script is in Filipino, created by acclaimed expert Ricky Lee, in addition to two younger co-writers Gershom Chua and also Eljay Castro Deldoc. It eloquently wove the Fil-Chi love story firmly despite historical events in both Manila (Martial Legislation) and also Beijing (Cultural Transformation).

The size of the play could intimidating at 3 hrs plus long (with a 15-minute interval between), yet thankfully Supervisor Joel Lamangan made the circulation of the scenes easy to comply with, so the play was quite appealing as well as extremely amusing. I do think that the manuscript could still be tweaked (especially in certain clichéd melodramatic scenes) so future hostings can be a lot more streamlined.

In 2014, I was introduced to the music of Von de Guzman when I watched “Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag.” His songs below in “Binondo” comply with generally the very same grand flowing style of musical composition. His tunes were very easy on the ears with their lilting melodies and also smooth stable developments which can reach dizzying elevations as they culminated. Because of its high difficulty degree, it takes an unique singer to be able sing as well as provide justice to a Von de Guzman song.

On the other hand, the lively choreography by Douglas Nierras certainly provided the big manufacturing numbers including the whole ensemble (visualize 50+ people dancing in unison) contagious verve and also energy.

The huge phase of the Movie theater at Solaire is a challenge for any kind of production developer to fill. Otto Hernandez developed extremely remarkably significant collection pieces which needed to be quickly relocated in and out of phase as the scenes called for them.

The concluding scene of Act 1 was an extremely imaginatively conceived and performed phase impression which entailed passengers going up stairs to board an aircraft.

The opening scene of Act 2 with a huge portrait of Chairman Mao forgeting a troop of soldiers swing warnings likewise had a really haunting effect as the scene portrayed unfair physical violence.

The illumination style of Joey Nombres enhanced the splendour of the collections, as well as feelings of the scenes being illustrated.

For a number of years, Rebecca Chuaunsu had the audacious vision of developing a bridge which would cultivate the favorable worths and also heritage between the Philippines and also China. With “Binondo,” her most treasured desire had been recognized in a most spectacular fashion, and I prolong my hearty congratulations to her!

As a last note, I commend the Mandarin language instructor for making the Filipino stars audio reasonable in the distribution of their Chinese lines and the vocal singing of a popular Chinese song like “The Moon Represents My Heart.”.

Nevertheless, I anticipate the day when real Chinoy actor-singers could also get to play the functions of Ah Tiong and also Carlos. While the portrayals of Ezra and Rayos of their personalities in the present manufacturing work, I truly feel that it would certainly make a considerable positive distinction in the general effect of the tale when the spreading could in some way be extra authentic.

” Binondo: A Tsinoy Music” adds to July 8 with programs at 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays as well as Sundays, and also 3 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and also Sundays.