Experiencing HIMALA the Musical
Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
OJ Mariano (Orly)-narrates: Ang karinderiya naging restaurant na. Ang mga bahay ay naging mistulang hotel para sa mga turista. Kasabay ng pagunlad na ito ay pamumulaklak ng bahay aliwan. Isay Alvarez (Nimia) -sees Orly’s camera: Kukunan mo bako o aliw ang hanap mo? Akala mo si Elsa lang marunong maghimala?
Nimia (sings): Ang buhay sa Maynila’y parang perya, ako’y sumipot para lang sa pera. Malinis na sulok ng aking munti kong katawan biniyak ng mga lalakeng nagparaos ng panandalian. Sa bagay masarap ang aking buuuuu—hay, pa higa higa patuwad tuwad na lang. Sa iba’t ibang poon ako lumuluhod…
Red light shines on gyrating bodies on stage. Isay Alvarez as Nimia in HIMALA seems to recall a similar scene in Miss Saigon in London also scantily clad worker in a bar. Although here in HIMALA Nimia is promoted to Mama san. Isay Alvarez will next be in the lead role of KATY which will run at the MERALCO theater by May.
HIMALA the Musical is by TOUCHWORKX with May Bayot in the lead role of Elsa. You can catch the musical’s 10th Anniversary run at PETA from March 15-March 24, 2013. Cynthia Culig-Guico, Dulce, Mia Reonal Bolaños, Kalila Aguilos, Bong Cabrera and Angeli Bayani are some of the other notable names in the production. Vincent De Jesus had the functions of composer and musical director and co wrote the songs with Ricky Lee.
Added to the original main cast are Viva Voce and the University of Santo Tomas Singers Alumni. Director Soxie Topacio said the expanded chorus was something that previous versions of the musical did not have. The first song “ Ang Eclipse at Ang Aparisyon” had a haunting effect when sung by Viva Voce and the UST Singer’s Alumni. They also added to the crowds and multitudes on stage, which the Film version was known for.
Legendary screenwriter Ricky Lee wrote the now classic film by Ishmael Bernal starring Nora Aunor. He spoke about the effect that the film and story itself has had , “Unang una HIMALA has lived for 30 years already and mukhang mabubuhay pa siya ng matagal. Whether you like it or not part na nung culture natin yung HIMALA e. Part na ng culture natin si Elsa. Part ng buhay natin yung topic ng play whether it’s a film or a stage production.”
He was all praises for this latest version of the musical by Director Soxie Topacio and Vincent de Jesus, “Its not really a full production it’s a concert so mas mabilis siya. Yung transitions mas smooth. The performance was really powerful. Sina Dulce sina May, si Isay very heartfelt yung performances nila.”
Lee however stated that the musical has advantages over the film, “Each production na ririnig mo yung iringan nila, yung paghinga nila because its live. Na ririnig mo yung daing nila, na aamoy mo yung pawis nila, na kikita mo yung tears nila buhay na buhay sa harap mo. Unlike sa film, eto totoo. In away it’s more real.”
Lee relishes the unpredictability in theater, “The other thing is pag pinanuood mo siya, you know what’s going to happen at the same time you don’t know what’s going to happen. These are live performances anything can happen. Pwedeng iba ngayon si May Bayot, medyo iba bukas medyo iba sa susunod. Sakin it’s a very exciting thing. No two performances are the same and thank God there’s multiplicity ng performances. Thank God you have Nora Aunor! Thank God you have May Bayot and thank God there will be other people who will perform that role in their own way na equally splendid. So masarap for a writer and HIMALA na bubuhay pa ulit ulit si Elsa sa iba ibang pagkatao. Sakin that’s more than enough kabayaran sa lahat ng hirap sa pag create ng material.”
The musical was also able to compensate for the loss of the multitudes on screen, “Parang opera sa akin it works. One good thing in the stage production, which I thought, would be difficult, sa pelikula isang malaking character yung masses e. The crowd all throughout it kept growing. Dito meron din siya. You can feel all the stages nung buhay ng community na nagsusuffer from belief to disbelief to disillusion and so yon nan dun din.”
May Bayot as Elsa has always performed up to the task of the role that made Nora Aunor a critically acclaimed actress. Lee goes on, “She’s very good. She was good then when it first came out. She’s still very good now. You can feel the pain. Painful in a positive sense, painful performance yung rendition niya. And ang complex complex ng HIMALA niya. You can feel all the facets ng emotion niya, pagkatao niya the doubts, the insecurities, the desire to be immortal, the vanity. At the same time the fragility na mimix niya lahat yon. And the voice, the voice is very pure.”
When asked to compare May Bayot with Nora Aunor, Lee said it would be very unfair for both. Being in two different mediums its difficult to compare especially since the film was not a musical. “Describing each, Nora was very pure and transcendental. The purity is there, the movements the face, every bit of her being nandun. Ang pure niya she’s one whole mystic being. On the other hand si May, without comparing or putting either one down, she’s complex. She’s left and right, black and white, rough and polished. I don’t want to compare because the film was asking for something else than the stage production.
The style and presence of both actors were different, “Si May is a leading being in the production. Si Nora was leading in a pure way, which is also good. That’s what the film set out to do. The set was very minimalist. Yon ang philsophical inclination ng film so tama lang doon e. Iba naman ang pinupuntahan so I don’t want to compare. And I hope that you don’t compare the two to be fair to both. As a writer pareho silang nagbigay ng flesh at kaluluwa dun sa pagkatao ni Elsa.” Sponsors include: PLDT, UCPB, THEATER ACTOR’S GUILD Philippines, ARMY NAVY Burger + Burrito, LUBE.ph, Business World, High Life, HerWord.com