STAGESHOW: Comedy Through Tragedy
Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
The Tres Dahlias, Angelina Kanapi (Chabeng), Mae Paner (Magdea) and Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino (Ester) talk about the hard times they have fallen into after their glory days on stage. Ester forces Magdea to talk about her job in the dark corners of cinemas:
Magdea: Trabahong kamay lang. Sa kaliwa meron akong alcohol, sa kanan meron akong toilet paper. Pagkatapos tinatabihan ko ang mga nagsosolong lalaki sa dilim. Tapos naka ngiti kong sasabihin, bossing gusto mo ba patigasin ko ang iyong saging? Sa beto beto ako ay matinik. Sari saring mga saging Lakatan, ang daming señorita. Pero meron din naman mga sabaaah! Di ko makalimutan yung isang customer yon po ang saging na walang puso.
Ester: Patapusin mo na! (Man beside her moans Ahh! Ahh! Ahh! Oooooohhh!) Magdea: Pero wala naman kaming kinitang tatlo, hanggang ngayon kayod marino pa rin kami. She talks about getting gold and jewelry only to sell it for needs of relatives such as ‘operasyon ng loslos ni lolo’ and many more. Magdea: Sabi nga ni Chichay pare-pareho lang buhay naming lahat.
One can go through life and look at it either as a tragedy or a comedy. Mario O’Hara chose to look at the most tragic and difficult things in life and turned them into something funny, if not as a source of entertainment. When he wrote STAGESHOW he chose to give homage to the lives of Filipino artists from a bygone era. Most of these incredibly talented and dedicated performers did not gain financial security although they did have fame. STAGESHOW by Mario O’Hara will open the Natl. Theater Festival on Nov. 7-8, 2012 at the CCP
In so doing, O’Hara also chronicled a very accurate slice of Filipino life. We Filipinos love to laugh, sing and dance in the midst of greatest tragedies. It may be what makes us so resilient. So STAGESHOW might as well be our story as a people. Even when audiences of today can only pick out one, two or three performers at the most whom they recognize, the dramas, pains, humor, their individual stories are all something we can relate to. It is hilariously provocative and the story will remain with you til memory fades.
STAGESHOW was the last script written by Mario O’Hara for the theater before he passed away in June of this year. While he created the blue print for a successful show, putting the elements together was another thing altogether. Director Chris Millado realized he needed to put a very good team to produce it. Millado is himself a veteran of many shows from Tanghalang Pilipino, PETA, NohSPace San Francisco, Kumu Kahua Theater Honolulu and many more. One of the major challenges was the transition from one scene to the next. He was able to solve this ingeniously with live costume changes. They also become a statement in the changes that occur within the character.
Apart from that he was able to get Choreographer Denisa Reyes who showed her creativity in telling stories through dance and movement. There were a few scenes that did not have dialogue and relied heavily on movement. And often dance was the best way to visualize and appreciate what the previous dialogue was saying.
There’s no other way for example, to act out fast forwarding scenes or time travel than through hunching down, pumping fists on the side and the whole cast accelerating action in the story. Again it was both hilarious and ingenious, not unlike what our playwright was in real life. You have no idea how funny a dance sequence can be until they start throwing a (fake) baby around in the middle of it. The comedy comes just as much from the physical slapstick as it is from the snappy jokes.
It is difficult not to fall in love with real life married couple Nonie and Shamaine Buencamino who are at the lead roles of Tirso and Esther. Both the choreography and vocals are very challenging which they pulled off with aplomb. Roder Camañag and Liesl Batucan also in the lead roles were just as effective. Sex has never been THIS funny. These four actors were able to show genuine love and made people laugh at the same time.
There were many great performances from the whole cast. Lou Veloso played despicable characters from a corrupt Mayor to a hobo-rapist. Speaking of which, Veloso is running under Mayor Lim’s ticket as Vice Mayor in real life for the local elections next year.
Multi awarded playwright, screenwriter Rody Vera performed as 1950’s matinee idol Bobby Gonzalez. I was also particularly impressed by Vera’s performance of comedian Bentot who acts like a toddler (that was his shtick). I was not able to see Gonzalez but I remember watching black and white reruns of Bentot’s old movies in GMA 7 as a kid. Vera got the voice and the distinctive walk, which was really hilarious.
Jonathan Tadioan (Jimboy) and Pamela Hundana (Dulce) are the crazy siblings born into the performer’s life. The chorus composed of Agnes Sarreal, Hazel Maranan, Kaye Garcia and April Iñigo were very eyecatching in their negligee scenes with Nonie Buencamino (Tirso). They even had a rocketts-like dance sequence no man can forget. The scene is not unlike Jet Pangan’s in “Nine” where he was surrounded by hot actresses like Menchu Lauchngco-Yulo, Cherie Gil and Eula Valdez.
STAGESHOW is everything you’ve dreamed of, laughed about and more. It’s a freak show, a musical, a deep, long, hard look at the lives of our performers and a rollicking good time!