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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hercules and the Partyphile

It has been said that there are only a few activities that are more “cultured” than watching a musicale or a live stage production. Unfortunately, this notion has somewhat kept the art of stage plays and musicales out of the reach of the masses, and out of reach of the general audience. Thus, stage plays and musicales are a rarity in Davao City; and it is pretty understandable why.

Stage plays have not managed to pique the interest of a market that is large enough to actually support a whole theatre industry in the city. How come? Well, I do not know for sure, but my take is that somewhere along the way, stage plays have become somewhat superfluous and kind of backwards. It has ceased to be entertaining for the general public because it has stopped giving them what they really want to see and hear.

I am not in any way an institution when it comes to theatre. But I am sharing my views on theatre as part of the Davaoeno youth. The closest thing we get to a musicale is Glee, and that has been packaged to be eaten up by the masses. Is this a bad thing? Not really. But it does veer away from the actual experience of watching a live play. And that, in my opinion, is interest wasted. Because watching a stage presentation is in itself a magical experience; something that is awe-inspiring. In this day and age when people are lining up for the best viewing experience (3D theatres and iMax), it still remains a mystery to me why people still do not take the same interest in watching live productions. Is there really a better viewing experience than actually seeing actors in the flesh?

Of course there are other factors to consider; the biggest one being the genre of the production. As far as I am concerned, over-singing and classical arias do not excite. What I am looking for is a production that speaks to me in a way I understand. The good news is there are a few plays that actually give that to me. These exceptions include Rent and the Rocky Horror Show. Recently, I added a new production to this very short list of musicales that manage to feel modern and up-with-the-times while dealing with the classic themes of love, hate, and heroism: Hercules 12.

Hercules 12 is a pop-emo musicale that tells the classic tale of Hercules’ 12 Labors. We are all familiar with the myth of Hercules because it is one of the most popular parts of Greek mythology and has been the basis for one of the more popular Disney movies. However, Hercules 12, the musicale takes the story right into 2011.

Hercules 12 was staged last February 23 at the Cap Auditorium and was brought to the Davaoeno public by The University of Southeastern Philippines; a project that was spearheaded by the Dean of the College of Education, Mr. Dennis Alonzo. Obviously, the audience was filled with students from the said university during both showings of the play, though I really wished that more schools would have made it to the production as I was curious to see how college students reacted to a play.

But according to my experience, the students from USEP reacted quite positively. Of course, there were the understandable shrieks brought about by teenage infatuation with the male leads; but other than that, they acted quite maturely. The students….the whole audience… were engrossed with this unique telling of the classical tale. Again, Hercules 12 is a pop-emo musicale. What does that mean? It means that they used music, language, and expressions that this generation understands, enjoys, and uses. Hercules 12 made the (medium of a) musicale accessible to a generation whose interest for the said art is waning, or totally absent. The staging was interesting, to say the least, as it featured a great storyline, an attention-grabbing opening, and a heart-warming end.

The cast was lead by one of the more familiar faces in Philippine television, Geoff Taylor, for his first leading role in a stage production. The rest of the cast included Aandrei David, Leo Ponsesca, Ron Ryan Alfonso, Sherwin Marquez, Carlo Morris Galang, Ruth Alferez, Irene Delarmente, Sheryl Maala, Jean Louise Lapus, and Pipay Era and was directed by George de Jesus III. The director was credible, as the production seemed seamless and interesting from top to bottom. The cast was believable, and they seemed to fit the roles of angsty, emo, characters. Their voices blended well, the provided the proper emotion, and they knew how to act to fill the whole stadium with the feelings they wanted to evoke. All in all, Hercules 12 was a wonderful play. I just wish that the production company behind it, Young Artists Production, would create more plays that are up-with-the-times and exciting for the youth of today, and for the youth of Davao.

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