CATS Out of the Box #MondayReviews #NanoPoblano2019

In December, a new movie version of CATS THE MUSICAL will be shown in theaters worldwide. I am a huge CATS-lover and let me tell you now: So far, I’m not liking most of the changes they’ve done. But, alright, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Who knows? I might like it.

Anyway, below is the semi-review that I did on the original movie years ago. I call it “semi-review” because it’s more of a feature. Well, more of a fan-made writeup. This was posted way back in the old Multiply days. I have decided to share it again (1) since it’s timely, (2) to introduce new viewers to the original musical, and (3) to give them points of comparison once the new movie is released. I did edit things to correct some grammatical errors, shorten the piece a bit, and add some updates.

By the way, links to more reviews can be found in the CRITIC’S CORNER.

FAIR WARNING: I am posting a reaction-slash-comparison video on my vlog one of these days. Bear with me. Humor me.

A CATTY EXPERIENCE

Indeed, I could choose from a variety of movies that I have already seen. Instead, I chose to love a film that is, for sure, not on a lot of people’s favorites-list. It’s a story with a simple plot. Cinematography is good, not outstanding. The visual effects are there only because they are necessary. And then, there are glaring editing misses!

So what’s there to love, really?

CATS THE MUSICAL is simply not the kind of film most Filipinos would appreciate. Well, most people in general. But I am a musical-enthusiast, videophile, dance-lover and poetry-maker. That combination explains why I find CATS very entertaining, beautiful, and original. It is poetry in words, music, and motion, all rolled into one cool package. Great score, great singing, great dancing! In the words of T. S. Eliot, it is “ineffable…effable…eff-an-in-EF-fable!”

The History of CATS

In the past, stage musicals like OKLAHOMA and FIDDLER ON THE ROOF were made into successful films. Many were culled from classic literature such as OLIVER!, from Charles Dickens‘ book Oliver Twist. THE WIZARD OF OZ, meanwhile, was based from the 1939 film, which was an adaptation of L. Frank Baum‘s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. As for WEST SIDE STORY, it was inspired by William Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet.

Came the early ’80s and there was the musical genius Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber (ALW). He of the JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA fame had a novel idea: Why not make a musical about cats based on the book his mom used to read to him — T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats?

So CATS was conceived and developed. It was made by famous theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh and ALW’s The Really Useful Theatre Company. CATS was officially ‘born’ in London’s West End, at New London Theatre, on May 11, 1981. Then the show made its Broadway debut on September 7, 1982 at the Winter Garden Theatre.

The sung-through musical proved to be a hit and won many awards and accolades. For quite a time, it was the longest-running musical as it was performed on West End stage for two glorious decades! There were 8,489 shows in 21 years. On Broadway, it ran for 18 years with 7,485 shows.

A true Taurean, CATS was as stubborn as a bull, refusing to budge from its position as the “World’s Best-loved Musical”. Well, that was until LES MISERABLES took its place in 2006. Sadly, CATS bid farewell to Broadway and West End in 2000 and 2002 respectively. (Ed. Fortunately, it’s currently back in the game, enjoying the limelight, entertaining more theatre fans, and translated into multiple languages.  “As of 2019, Cats remains the fourth-longest-running Broadway show and the sixth-longest-running West End show.” Oh, and it had a worldwide gross of US$3.5 billion by 2012.)

In 1998, ALW pushed the barriers further by producing the film version of CATS. It was, in fact, the first of its kind, an actual stage performance captured on film. In essence, they picked up where they left off, only with a different medium. Directed for film by David Mallet, the musical was shot in London’s Adelphi Theater by running through the whole production twice and then adding other essential shots. They did it in a span of 18 days. Meanwhile, costumes and make-up were toned down for film.

Original performers like Elaine Paige and Ken Page took on the roles they originated on West End (her) and on Broadway (him). The show also brought in veteran actor Sir John Mills for a special role. ALW then chose actors he thought could best portray the 28 other important characters. The cast were chosen from productions that were then currently showing the musical. Judging from the performances captured by the lenses, it seems that ALW’s team chose wisely and well.

The Story of CATS

The story unfolds as the Jellicle Cats meet at a junkyard for the annual Jellicle Ball. In attendance are the adult cats and the kittens that are on the verge of adulthood, probably attending their first ball.

Led by the protective silver-and-grey tom, Munkustrap (Michael Gruber), they sing, dance, do acrobatics, and bask at the Jellicle moon. That is, while they await the arrival of their leader, Old Deuteronomy (Page). Every year, just before dawn, Deuteronomy makes what is known as the “Jellicle Choice”. He chooses the cat who gets the chance to be reborn, allowed to go up the Heaviside Layer (their kitty heaven), and “come back to a different Jellicle life”. Anyone interested could ask to be given this privilege.

During this time, the audience is given the chance to get accustomed to the characters. Some are easy to remember. That’s due mainly to particular costume designs that stage productions almost always follow . (Thanks, John Napier.)

For those familiar with the show, some characters are instantly recognizable. For instance, Victoria The White Cat (Phyllida Crowley Smith), the tuxedo cat Quaxo (Jacob Brent), the Siamese feline Cassandra (Rebecca Parker), or the twins Coricopat and Tantomile (Tommi Sliiden and Kaye Brown respectively). Some performers first show up as swing or supporting casts, wearing costumes specifically designed not to stand out. They later emerge as important characters. It is hard, though, to miss such a man (or cat) the size of Mister Page.

As the waiting continues, the presence of some adored cats are acknowledged. Jennyanydots The Gumbie Cat (Susie McKenna), with her tiger stripes and leopard spots, is a tabby perceived as lazy by her owners during the day. But she gets busy at night teaching or disciplining mice, roaches and beetles. The supposedly smart Bustopher Jones (James Barron) is a well-respected cat in his “coat of fastidious black” and “white spats”. He is revered when all he actually really does is eat.

The Rum Tum Tugger (John Partridge) also makes sure that his presence is known. He is “vain”, “perverse” and “inconsequent”. And yet, he is the object of almost every she-feline’s affection. The kittens and the sensual Bombalurina (Rosemarie Ford) idolize him like a sexy rockstar. Complete with a lion’s mane, a kiss-me curl, and gyrations, he is the show’s trademark Elvis. The Elvis theme is one that ALW plays with from time to time. Case in point: the Pharaoh in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT. Together with Munkustrap, Tugger serves as another main storyteller.

Grizabella The Glamour Cat (Paige) – ironically un-glamorized now – then enters the scene. Excited to be back after years of absence, Grizabella is saddened when the others avoid and ostracize her. Needless to say, she is forced to stay away and watch from afar. Meanwhile, the notorious Bonnie-and-Clyde tandem of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer (Drew Varley and Jo Gibb respectively) are caught doing their usual naughty antics and misdeed. The comical troublemakers end up staying all throughout the party.

The Jellicle leader soon appears, to the delight of his followers. For further entertainment, the cats do a parody of warring dogs, with the “intervention” of The Rumpus Cat (Frank Thompson). Dancing resumes after. At some point of the elaborate dance number, the mating process happens. It’s a sort of PG-13 moment when the kitten Victoria “becomes” an adult cat. She mates with Plato (Bryn Walters) while the others also do their – uh – thing.

When it is over, Grizabella returns and tries to join the ball once again. She is still regarded as an outcast. Feeling alone, she sings the now-popular song “Memory”, sadly reminiscing her lovely past. She does not know that Deuteronomy is still there and leaves disappointed.

Soon after, the cats return and Deuteronomy tries to explain to them the meaning of real happiness, to no avail. So to get the message across, he conveys it in simpler words through the kitten Jemima (Veerle Casteleyn). She somewhat sings entranced. Jemima’s maturity at her age is evidenced by her understanding of Grizabella. She is always the first to try and touch the outcast only to be pulled away by the older cats.

Gus The Theatre Cat (Sir John Mills), senile as he is, also attends the gathering and talks of the good ol’ days. He makes you shed a tear or two at the end of his song. He leaves behind him a sad atmosphere. which Skimbleshanks The Railway Cat (Geoffrey Garrat) enlivens again through his storytelling and pantomime acts.

Chaos erupts as the criminal Macavity The Mystery Cat a.k.a. The Hidden Paw (also Walters) emerges and catnaps Old Deuteronomy. As they worry about their leader, Macavity returns in a different form. But the sensitive and rather dramatic Demeter (Aeva May) sees through his disguise and exposes him. A fight inevitably happens and sometime later, the Jellicle leader is somehow rescued. With the help of the magical Mr. Mistoffelees (also Brent) and the kittens — the wise and sweet Jemima and the kind, queenly Victoria — Deuteronomy is finally able to make the Jellicle Choice.

Thoughts on CATS

For anyone wanting entertainment-value, CATS will not be a disappointment. But to the uninitiated, the whole story may not be easy to follow. I had to watch it several times myself before I fully understood everything.

It also helped that I had the libretto downloaded from the Internet back then. That made it easier to understand and better appreciate the actors’ various accents. Varley’s and Gibb’s were particularly harder to follow for me, to be honest. Understanding the words made their lively performance more fun to watch.

Most of the characters that were introduced/announced were old. It was natural for Deuteronomy to choose among the elders. They had been there, done that, enjoyed things they would want to relive like Gus, regretted things they would like to change like Grizabella.

Grizabella did not use her youth wisely. Once it was gone, she was left with nothing but her memories. She felt the sting of loneliness, lamenting the meaning of real happiness. The brief but memorable duet of the old and the young in “Memory (Reprise)” emphasized this. One represented hope and innocence; one represented loss and grave regrets. Meanwhile, we saw a stunning performance from both actors. It is arguably one of the best scenes from the film.

Between Griz and Gus, however, the latter gets my vote. Sir John Mills was a very convincing Gus that I actually shed some tears almost every time I watched him. A brief performance worthy of an award!

The stage production itself is to be applauded, in my opinion. Few musicals can do what CATS do. They may have one or two of the elements, but the show offers more.

There’s great poetry (with additional texts from Sir Trevor Nunn), though already antiquated from the start. Understandable. The book the show is based on is old. What’s amazing is they somehow pull it off. If you’re not into poetry, you’ll tend to forget it anyway as you enjoy watching the cats and their various antics. You won’t really notice that it’s poetry.

There’s wonderful music. A lot of times, it is operatic, which, I admit, may not suit some theater-goers. They might find the show boring because of the music. I think most avid supporters of musicals will not mind, though. Many musicals tend to be operatic.

The dance numbers are totally awesome! I am so impressed by the dancers who train really hard to move like real cats, even think like real cats. They make dancing seem easy when it isn’t. It takes dedication to achieve the craft. CATS’ dance routines also differ in genres (e.g. ballet, lyrical, even acrobatic). That makes the whole show quite interesting. Credit goes to Dame Gillian Lynne. I think productions still follow her choreography up to now. I saw a live performance some years ago and it was like watching the movie.

The set is not breathtakingly impressive compared to other shows’ and yet, very appropriate. Just imagine that you are an actual Jellicle Cat — the set will make sense. The way going to the Heaviside Layer is a bit of a turn-off for me. Other than that, well, I really don’t mind anything else.
I love other musicals as well. What sets CATS apart for me, though, is the fact that it is a complete package. I consider watching the movie as an actual adventure.
Truth be told, it isn’t really the story that has made the most impact on me. I am viewing this from the perspective of a musical-lover, not a film enthusiast. CATS is a stage musical, first and foremost. Despite its flaws, the movie deserves to be praised for the sheer originality alone. That’s what thinking-out-of-the-box is about.
And I am so glad CATS is out! 😉
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Hey, guys, I found this nice page on the musical, check it out: Cats (musical)

In “Your Face”! #TVTuesday #TuesdayTunes

Oh, I missed these hash potatoes! So today, it’s #TVTuesday and #TuesdayTunes post.  Double fun, woohoo!!! Today, I am sharing one of my current favorite shows, Your Face Sounds Familiar (YFSF) Kids Edition.

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The YFSF Kids of Season 1: (From Left) AC Bonifacio (2nd Runner-up), Lyca Gairanod, Justin Alva (3rd Runner-up), Elha Nympha (1st Runner-up), McNeal “Awra” Briguela (WINNER), Alonzo Muhlach, Xia Vigor, and Sam Shoaf

Saying “Your face sounds familiar” sounds really weird and like utter nonsense. The premise of YFSF, however, explains it.  Okay, background with a little bit of disclaimer:

YFSF is a singing and impersonation competition owned by the Endemol Shine Group, known abroad for producing many reality TV shows (Big Brother and others). YFSF was franchised by Philippine TV network giant ABS-CBN and the first regular season started in March 2015. There came another regular season and then, the first-ever season of the Kids edition was aired in January 2017. It gained international attention when then-7-year-old Xia Vigor performed as Taylor Swift and the video of that performance went viral.

The second season of the Kids edition is currently running and the kids’ performances are making much more waves. That’s thanks to the already-big attention the YouTube reactors’ community has been giving Filipino artists.

YFSF has a set of screen and theater artists–singers, dancers, actors–competing against one another onstage every week. Weekly shows are divided into two parts with the first half of the performers shown on Saturday and the remaining ones on Sundays. That gives ample time on the second day (well, eve) to announce the week’s winner and show the participants pressing the “iconator” (just a coined term as abroad, it’s called “randomizer”, even simply a “buzzer”). That’s the button that every contestant presses to reveal his/her next icon.

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Xia Vigor impersonating Taylor Swift. Image courtesy of Elle.com

Competitors are each assigned celebrities that have become music icons or made waves in the industry one way or another. That’s regardless of the age of the icon, race, sex and gender (so expect cross-dressing in some performances).

But this is a step up from the usual impersonation stuff. A major part of this involves the makeup artists and prosthetic. Every week, performers are madeup and often–not always–made to wear prosthetic. The idea is to not only sound and act like the icons but to LOOK like them. This is where my disclaimer enters.

In the past, I saw some foreign YouTubers express concern prior to seeing an actual performance that the performer might be doing “blackface”, which people could find offensive. Then they got to watch and realize it’s not the case (especially when they saw it was a great performance!). It really isn’t meant to be offensive, not at all. It always depends on the look of the icon. It has nothing to do with being racist. So if s/he’s white, then the performer’s Pinoy brown color is turned lighter (sometimes, the prosthetic can be a tad weird and creepy-looking, though). So if we’re playing the race card, might as well call it “whiteface”. Or “yellowface” even, depending on who’s being impersonated.

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The YFSF Kids of Season 2: (Clockwise from Top Left) TNT Boys, Chunsa Jung, Marco Masa, Krystal Brimner, Telesa “Esang” De Torres, Noel Comia Jr., Xymon “Onyok” Pineda, and Sheena Belarmino. Image courtesy of Rappler

Just to be clear, not every performer is a good singer, or even dancer. He or she is judged on how well s/he has projected him/herself as the icon being impersonated.

Anyway, to show how talented our kids can be, I am sharing a few videos from this season’s (season 2) kid performers. They seem long, but that’s because the videos continue until all the jury members have made their comments. There are lots of funny stuff that follow a performance, but feel free to stop playing. (BTW, copyrights to all the images and videos here belong to ABS-CBN, unless otherwise specified. I got some from other sites, but of course, they’re still mostly from ABS.)

I’m starting with my biggest bet, Sheena Belarmino. People know her more as a singer as she was a grand finalist of the popular singing competition Tawag ng Tanghalan (TNT)  that was part of the noon-time variety show It’s Showtime. That ended late last year. Prior to that, however, she was a finalist of Dance Kids from 2015 to 2016. You can say she is a powerhouse of a talent. As of last count, she’s won thrice already, currently the most number of times this season. However, she’s also currently ranked 3rd-4th . That has something to do with how the jury individually assigns scores.

Watch her perform as local artists Sarah Geronimo and KZ Tandingan and judge for yourselves. Sheena showed Sarah’s swag as the latter performed the song onstage (the hair and expressions were based more on the “Tala” video). That was Sheena’s first win. Everyone was definitely impressed. BUT she even topped that recently by showing more swag impersonating KZ’s viral performance of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” on the recently concluded Singer 2018 singing competition (Jesse J. won) in China. Sheena even wore the same outfit. She blew everyone away! I think you will agree. And she also got a wonderful surprise after she sang… 😉

Meanwhile, also check out her performances as Ariana Grande, (so good!), Chris Brown, and local artist Jessa Zaragoza (for which she also won, though I’m not crazy about it…The link I shared is just of Jessa singing at an event — she’s not wearing a gown and not doing much of the movements she’s been known for).

Next, the TNT Boys! They are composed of Kiefer Sanchez, Mackie Empuerto and Francis Concepcion–all grand finalists of the TNT Kids singing competition, like Sheena. Among all the contestants, they are undoubtedly the most popular due to their emotional rendition of Beyonce’s “Listen” in the GGV show. Actually, for fun, they were asked to sing it while pretending to be fighting (Francis bullies Kiefer, then Mackie defends Keifer who tries to pacify both of them). It was a hoot! And it became viral. Suddenly, the group TNT Boys was born and they have now performed in Little Big Shots US and UK. Since then, a lot of their performances onstage and offline have been going viral, particularly their YFSF numbers. They’ve won twice and are currently ranked 1st.

Below are two of their performances. The first is of The BeeGees. They didn’t win but this was the first video of the season that went and is still going viral around the world. The BeeGees loved their performance and actually tweeted about it. The next is–get this–their impersonation of Destiny’s Child! It was their first win and very well-deserved. These boys are so talented! I loved their performance of The Supremes as well, it’s my personal favorite–classy with less flair. Their second win, though, was their Mariah Carey and BoyzIIMen one and,  you guessed it, it’s gone viral as well.

Now we have Krystal Brimner. She was a relatively unknown in the mainstream showbiz world until YFSF. Some people may recognize her from the movie Honor Thy Father where she played a vital part. Theater aficionados may remember her playing the title role of Annie, for which she won Best Child Actress and Best Female Lead Performer from the 2016 Platinum Stallion Media Awards and 2016 Philstage Gawad Bahay Awards. Based on her performances in YFSF, it’s obvious she’s been using her training to good use.

Krsytal is currently ranked 2nd. I am not sure if she’s an audience favorite, but I like her. For me she’s done a LOT  of great impersonations. Below are the two performances that made her win: as Jesse J. first, then as Alicia Keys. I would also recommend her impersonations of Miley Cyrus (on her first week, when she made her mark as a talent to reckon with), Stevie Wonder, and Dionne Warwick.

Last on my list is Esang De Torres. Among the top four, I think she’s the one who first made her mark on national TV. She was such a cutie joining the MiniMe contest of It’s Showtime, where she “impersonated” her idol Lea Salonga. But it was in joining The Voice Kids that made her. Coached by none other than her idol, Lea, she was the team’s grand finals bet. It was apparent that she had a singing talent that was perfect for the stage that, with a lot of encouragement from Lea, Esang joined the theater world. In fact, she was one of those who played the title role of Matilda. Like Krystal, it’s obvious she’s putting her theatrical training at work. She gets better everytime.

She’s won once so far, but her often-high weekly scores have tied her at 3rd to 4th rank with Sheena. I liked a lot of her performances as well. I am first sharing one of my faves, her impersonation of John Legend. The next is her doing a Christina Aguilera, her first actual win Feel free to also check out her Cher, Lea Salonga, Cyndi Lauper, and Bonnie Tyler. As fo this writing, she just did a Freddie Mercury, which was also good, by my standards.

 

And my list is done! Basically, I think the TNT Boys getting into the finals is already in the bag. Sheena, my most fave, doesn’t always get the highest scores, so I’m crossing my fingers. Krystal, if she keeps doing what she does, would most probably be in the finals, too. I am crossing my fingers for Esang as well, but she does consistently get high scores…

I am actually surprised and very glad to know that my top ones are those who are leading the ranks. The girls are my faves, but biases aside, I thought that they should be in the top three.

Anyway, guys, I hope you enjoyed reading my post and watching the vids. I enjoyed putting this together. I could do another set next week, if I have the time 🙂

Wishes and Songs Part II #TuesdayTunes

I am excited to share this next set of performers!

But first, remember I promised I would explain Filipino music last time? Then, I will explain. Let me start by sharing someone’s thoughts regarding our musicality and how we are, in general, as a nation of singing addicts, all from a non-Filipino’s point of view  😉

David DiMuzio is a music artist in his own right and has lived in this country, so he knows what he’s talking about when he discusses Why FILIPINOS Are The BEST SINGERS In The World.

For the record, I don’t think that we are the best singers in the world simply because there are no statistics to prove that. I don’t think there’s been any study done to see who’s best, and if there was, I’d say that’s a stupid waste of money that could’ve been used for more relevant endeavors.

That said, I do believe that it seems we do have quite talented artists over here even though–*GASP!!!*–not everyone can sing well. Just to give you my humble estimate, 90% of us sing, so there’s the 10% who don’t or can’t. The 90% comprises these:

  • 40% good singers who can, at least, carry a decent tune
  • 30% really good singers qualified to join local amateur singing contests
  • 15% exceptionally great singers qualified to join much bigger competitions and, perhaps, be recording artists
  • 5% most fortunately blessed singers that soon become legends for their amazingly distinct talents

I agree with all of what David DiMuzio said. Although regarding that part about almost all households having karaoke,…Well, I suppose, if he is referring to owning a player, DVDs of sing-along songs and, hopefully, a mic, that’s possible enough even for poor families. But the actual karaoke, what we now call as videoke (not hard to guess why), is now a modern jukebox that is usually rented for 24 hours for parties and during occasions. Anyone, especially guests, can hang around and take turns belting out songs that can be heard kilometers away.

Anyway, David’s right, we love the ’70s and ’80s music. To add, we love and patronize even older songs because our parents and their parents did, too. Children from all walks of life grow up listening to music their parents also grew up listening to, so those are what are usually played at home and, often, on the radio…

Alright, ’nuff said about that. Let’s go to the artists already!

This trio, I already introduced in Part 1 of this two-part series. However, they’re so good, I decided to first share another one of their “jam sessions” on the Wish bus. This is a vid featuring Kyla, Yeng Constantino, and KZ Tandingan. Unfortunately, I could not find an original video so I’m sharing a reaction video instead. I do promise you, you can hear them clearly (jump to 0:40, if you need to). And thanks to Terrence Jr. for this!

Some of the Wish bus videos of artists I am featuring are reaction videos. That’s because the original performance videos are already missing (it’s a long story, but something Wish FM addicts know of). Don’t worry, I have chosen reaction vids where you can hear the artists clearly, and the reactors have done the least reactions during the presentations (based on my search, anyway)…

Now, this artist was one of the most requested artists to appear on the Wish bus and was their first-ever Artist of the Month. I honestly think the appearance was only made possible as she was/is endorsing a popular company’s new service. Who cares, though? It seems everyone who heard and saw that quite recent performance–on the radio, right outside the bus, through watching YouTube–loved her song. Dubbed as Asia’s Songbird, Regine Velasquez-Alcasid brought the house down when she did a cover of her past cover of the song  Araw-Gabi (Day and Night).

A little background: Regine first made waves when she won first in Ang Bagong Kampeon (The New Champion) at 14. She is best known as a “belter” who can reach such crazy high notes. (I personally am more in love with the lower registers she’s shown here).  She soon became the standard for high belters and many from the younger generation have been idolizing her then and now, trying to follow in her footsteps…Given this background info, you can now guess why she was most requested and why there was such a big crowd outside the bus, as can be seen from her Wish video.

Meanwhile, here’s someone whose talents I highly respect and appreciate. She’s showbiz royalty and I’m happy she is not just riding on her famous parents’ popularity (the mom is an actress-singer, the dad was called the Comedy King of the film and TV industry). This is Zia Quizon whose voice I have loved ever since I first heard her sing on TV.  She’s got a not-so-usual voice quality that you could definitely love.

For the bus, she sang Creep, Crazy, and The Scientist, all YouTube hits, and I could easily just share any of their originals. BUT, it is her version of Hotline Bling, a song which original version I totally hated, that I love most, and it was the most-viewed of her numbers, I believe. Watch and listen to her sing below. I have also posted a reactors’ video because Zia’s vids of this keep getting taken out of YouTube. So in case it doesn’t work anymore, check out the reactors’ vid (jump to 0:52 if you want). Thanks to HugknucklesTV!

Next is another non-belter. In fact, Sue Ramirez is more of an actress than a singer. She does have a nice, sweet singing voice that she likes to share once in a while. For instance, here, she sings popular TV drama Dolce Amore‘s theme song Your Love, which is a ’90s band Alamid original.

I like Sue, but I’m not crazy about this version of the song, so I was surprised to find out that foreign reactors were so smitten by her that her rendition became viral in no time. I did not expect that at all. I think it’s the charm that worked like magic, based on various reactions I’ve seen and on the number of reactors suddenly crushing on her. I leave it to you to decide.

She did sing, at least, another song that you might like more: Ako sa ‘Yo.

Another young artist has made it in our list of special singers worthy of mention. She is Sassa Dagdag of The Voice Philippines – Kids Edition season 2. Sassa has got this distinctly husky singing voice that makes her stand out. Her various song renditions, especially of If I were a Boy and Halo, were/are others’ easy favorites. Mine, though, is her interpretation of La Vie en Rose. For me, that was a really awesome performance, the most impressive of her renditions.

The Wish bus performance got taken down, though, so I am again sharing a reactors’ video. The vid is clear, the sounds are also, the reactors kept the comments to a minimum, enough for us to enjoy viewing (jump to 1:02). Thanks to MGN: The Echo!

Last, we’ve got a girl group, the 4th Impact. They are actually sisters and we have kind of seen their “transformation”, starting from years ago when certain TV shows first featured/introduced these then-very simple lasses. They grew up joining singing and dance contests to be able to help their family. In fact, up to now, these much-more stylish girls still keep joining–sometimes winning–in various talent competitions abroad. Most notable of their successes are winning twice in the World Championship of Performing Arts (2006, 2013) in separate categories, and bagging the fifth place in The X Factor UK (2015).

The group has had several name-changes until they settled with “4th Impact”. Basing on this performance, however, I believe that they can always change the name, but no one can ever deny their talent.

I thought that to corroborate David’s observation of how our singing artists hone their skills through competitions, here is an example of how great they can already be even before they officially become celebrities.

Below is a number performed the recent Wish Music Awards that featured finalists of the contest Tawag ng Tanghalan, a segment of the variety show It’s Showtime. For some reason, there’s only one guy here, Noven Belleza, who happens to be the eventual champion. It could be because of the genre. All the other guys had their separate number.

I have two personal faves. First is Gidget Dela Llana who was a part of the first set of semi-finalists (I was able to kind of follow some of them then). I was happy with her song choices on the daily rounds and she gave them justice wonderfully. Even when others seemed to be belting out higher notes, she was able to prove herself as a worthy competitor.

My second fave is Eumee Capile (I honestly could not find yet a relevant page to link to) whom I admit having not watched until her Wish performance (hey, I was at work, alright?). So much power!!!…

That’s it, folks! There are so many to share, but I concentrated specifically only on several. And if this set now screams of Girl Power, it’s unintentional. I chose only from what/who went viral and what I personally liked. Honestly, so far, only a few male Wish artists have sent me fangirl-ing. They do deserve to be given the chance, so I think I’ll do that in the future.

Before I really go, I leave you with this Wish Awards medley number from Zia, Sassa, and KZ. there was the original video that was better, of course, but you know what happened. Thanks, at least, for fans like Dannie Buenaventura…ENJOY!!!

 

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Did you enjoy these? You did?!!! Good. Which did you enjoy most, though? Who did you like best? Let us know at the bottom, please! I loooove feedback (as long as it’s wholesome)!!!

Wishes and Songs Part 1 #TuesdayTunes

Welcome back to #TuesdayTunes! Woo-hoo!!! Been a long while since the last one, methinks. For today, I am sharing a very good set of songs and singers. While on hiatus from The Walking Dead vids, I discovered many reaction videos that are particularly about performances done while on the Wish bus. Yep, that’s right, the wish bus! And I’ve become obsessed!

What am I talking about? I’ve heard about this bus before, but it is only now that I’m discovering these videos. It’s really rather simple. There’s this bus that on given days, goes around the metro or parks in one place. What’s so special? This bus serves as the station for Wish 107.5 FM where various singing artists perform live, for real, in real time, like a mini-concert, and everyone around the bus can hear them! Guess what? Too many of their vids have gone really viral, like full-blown viral.

Can I just say “Really nice concept, Wish peeps”?

Of course, it features local artists, although I won’t discount the possibility that should foreign acts visit here, maybe some wouldn’t be too unavailable for such a thing. (UPDATE: They have been featuring foreign artists.)

Alright, guys, though these are all local artists, I encourage you to at least check them all out. I’ve put together a great collection of awesome performances with different flavors. A lot of them have more than one great performance, but I chose either my faves or what YouTube viewers and reactors loved most. You’re free to click stop and move on to the next ones, but before you do, please give each performance a chance first. You’re bound to be surprised.

BTW, this is the first of a two-parter and I promise to explain more about Filipino music next time (and links to be added while you read/watch, sorry…)

ENJOY!!!

Let’s start with the youngest — 14-year-old Darren Espanto with Chandelier, so yeah, you know what you’re in for. His I Believe rendition won for him the Best Wishclusive Performance by a Young Artist award in the recent Wish Awards, but the first is somehow his staple song (my opinion), so I’m sharing that one. If you don’t like this style, at least lend him an ear. He’s a Filipino who grew up in Canada and was already doing front acts in concerts before he joined The Voice Philippines – Kids Edition and won second place (he should have been first, but I’ll keep my mouth shut).

Alright, has he got your heart pounding? Let’s slow things down a bit with Bugoy Drilon, a former canteen janitor. A lot of our artists nowadays are products of singing competitions on TV. This guy won second place in the second season of Pinoy Dream Academy (PDA). Why second-placers often make it bigger than the first-placers, I have no idea. Anyway, he’s supposed to be a balladeer (he’s got a few hits), but when he joined the We Love OPM contest last year, I think that’s when they discovered his other hidden talent in singing. He showcases that here.

Nice, eh?

How about a little surprise? Nah, I’m kidding…It’s a BIG surprise! Just let Marcelito Pomoy show you the surprise 😉

Marcelito won in the 2011 Pilipinas Got Talent (PGT) contest. I think it’s not hard to guess why. Like many of our artists, he was also dirt-poor with a colorful background before finding fame.

Now we go to a real girl. By now, you can guess she was part of a singing competition also, he he. Well, not my intention. It just happens these vids feature them. Anyway, this is Morissette Amon, or simply Morissette, and if you check this vid out, you’ll understand why she won most of the awards in the Wish Awards.

We have her here singing solo a song originally sang by a group and, my goodness, she’s awesome! I mean I knew that when I saw her in The Voice Philippines (TVoP) in 2013, in fact, I was rooting for her, but she didn’t make it all the way to the top. So when I saw this the other day, can I just say I fell for her? And she looks so pretty here, too. Anyway, listen and find out why many YouTube reactors from around the world found her awesome, too…

Squeezed in BONUS –> Here’s a “duet” from the Wish Awards:

Up next is Klarisse De Guzman (sadly, I can’t find a good enough bio of hers for now) singing a classic with a lot of class. Her vids didn’t get that many hits/votes, but I think she earned a place here. She won second-place in the same TVoP season where Morissette was in and they had the same coach.

Alright, enough of the high-note divas and divos! We have here another artist, a diva in her own right. Oh, she’s very special! She won first place in The X Factor Philippines in 2012 (Note: Filipinos really love music! Singers tend to win this contest when it’s supposed to be for every kind of talent…Well, singers and dancers, actually, ’cause we love to dance, too!).

This is Soul Supreme KZ Tandingan.

Anyway, I decided to post two vids here of her ’cause I couldn’t help it. I don’t know which one’s better! There’s a third with her, R’n’B Princess Kyla and songwriter Pop Rock Princess Yeng Constantino (she won first place in the first of the only two seasons of PDA).

Kyla’s the one with the sweet voice and she rapped, too, to my surprise. Yeng is more into alternative, so don’t expect her to go all-diva like the others. She writes wonderful songs, one of which is my favorite that I have shared here before called Hawak-Kamay. They sang another song but it’s been taken down. I’ll be sharing it in Part 2 of this post.

And now, last in this first list and definitely not the least, is music icon Gary Valenciano. Some foreigners will most probably get bored with his style because it is the Filipino style of writing and singing sentimental songs. But he actually sings dance songs also and is not called Mr. Pure Energy for nothing. A lot of us grew up listening to and idolizing him. With this vid, however, you won’t get bored AT ALL, as some reactors found out later and what made them apologize for some negative comments on his other videos that they first saw.

Oh, you will love this, I promise! (BTW, thanks to Lukas MD’Gams.)

 

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Did you enjoy these? You did?!!! Good, ’cause I’ve got more next time.Which did you enjoy most, though? Who did you like best?

Stay tuned for next time!!!

How to Write a Play

Let me first say that I missed you, WordPress! Due to unforeseen developments in my private life, I really hadn’t had much time to visit blogs, much more post something (other than last time’s announcement). Today, though, I am committed to post something from me, except it’s not going to be this post.

This post is a reblog of (more like linking to) That’s so Jacob‘s latest piece, which I think, may help all aspiring playwrights.

When I first started writing (in gradeschool), I used to write script-style, like in movies. In a very amateurish way, of course. Then I learned to write skits for group presentations in class. It was the nearest thing  for me to being a playwright. Now that I am older and know myself better, I pretty much know I can’t be an effective, actual playwright. It’s not giving up, but just knowing how I actually like to write. Watching musicals and plays is enough for me.

But anyway, having told that little background, I just read Jacob’s nice how-to post. As said, any aspiring playwright can learn a thing or two or more from it. I don’t want to let the opportunity of sharing it pass.

Feel free to check it out:

ON PLAYWRITING

Romeo and Juliet Fever #atozchallenge2015

M of A to Z“M” is for Musicals. Yes, I am a musicals enthusiast, if you don’t know me yet. I like to watch musicals on TV, film and stage. I only get to watch actual musicals once or twice a year due to either budget (many that I’d like to see tend to be costly for someone like me) or venue (they don’t normally show in places near me). When I do get to watch, I normally try to purchase playbills. I may forget about buying other souvenirs, but never the playbills! That’s where you get to know more about a production, its cast, etc.

And because I’ve been in a Broadway-mood lately due to my recent post, I would like to share to any musicals fans out there the full film version of the French “Romeo and Juliet: from Hate to Love” musical that stars Damien Sargue and Cecilia Cara.

Roméo et Juliette: de la Haine à l’Amour is a French musical based on William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, with music and lyrics by Gérard Presgurvic. It premiered in Paris on January 19, 2001…Since then, the musical has been performed in Verona, Rome, Canada, Antwerp, London, Amsterdam, Budapest, Szeged, Moscow, Vienna, Bucharest, Seoul, Pusan (South Korea), Taipei, Monterrey, Japan and Shanghai and has been translated into several languages, including Flemish, Italian, Hungarian, Russian, English, German, Spanish, Romanian, Japanese, and Korean.” (WikiPedia)

damien-sargue-cecilia-cara

Damien Sargue and Cecilia Cara as Romeo et Juliette

This is one of only two full film versions I viewed online. I really like this one — the voices (although Juliette sounds more mature for a girl supposedly around 14, but this is theater and she has a nice voice anyway), the costumes, most of the acting. The other version I saw, which I won’t say whose, I did not like at all. It looked like something performed in school rather than professional theater, and the acting! There are just no words! A few songs in and I gave up. It was hard watching them, really. Meanwhile, when it comes to the singing, I am also very partial to the voices of the Belgian cast. I don’t think there is any full online version of theirs, professionally filmed or otherwise, but I have the recording, as shared by another theater enthusiast.

Oh, let me share that there is a whole site dedicated to the R&J musical created by my fellow-Veerle fan, VeerleBub. Check out the Romeo + Juliet the Musicals Website. It’s not the musical’s official site, but it’s rather informative and a bit comprehensive, even including translations. I liked visiting there during my R&J fever years ago. Unfortunately, it’s not updated anymore and the owner lost the rights to the original domain, it seems. Think I’ll go contact her again if I can.

Anyway, here’s the film version I promised. As always, ENJOY!

Little Dove: Cat of a Feather #atozchallenge2015

Ladies and gentlemen, today I share to you one of my most favorite stage thespians. I bring you…LITTLE DOVE. Oh, and all images and videos, unless indicated, are not mine, just to make it clear. Also, this was written circa 2006, just so you know. However, I’ve been updating it from time to time and adding images and links 🙂

From Gazet Van Antwerpen

This is Veerle Casteleyn
and this is my most favorite photo of hers. Photo credit: Gazet Van Antwerpen

CAT OF A FEATHER

Truth be told, there isn’t much to be said about Veerle Casteleyn… Uh, let me rephrase that—there isn’t much info available about this li’l lady, not even in the whole, wide world of the web. Any true-blue Veerle-fan knows that.

Her First Catwalks

Veerle Casteleyn was born in Vlaanderen, Belgium on March 6, 1978. ‘Veerle’ is Flemish for ‘feather’, which appropriately describes her to a ‘T’. Figuratively speaking, of course. Lithe and graceful on her feet, it’s no wonder. After all, Veerle is a dancer first before actress and singer, with quite a credible resumé in dancing tucked under her belt. She is a sweet/light soprano and wonderful actress. A fantastic all-around thespian…

[Ed. ‘Veer’ is said to actually mean ‘feather’ in Dutch, based on some research. Meanwhile, ‘Veerle’ is said to mean ‘travel to battle’ or ‘battle traveller’. In some ways, an individual maybe considered a battle traveller so Veerle may very well be one anyway. I still do prefer to liken Veerle to a light feather.]

Her official foray in the performing arts really started when she began training as ballet/jazz dancer at the Municipal Institute for Ballet in Antwerp, Belgium. She performed in “Joint Venture”, “Initiate”, “Fanfare”, “The Three Musketeers” and “Self-Made”. More roles came after school–an orphan in “Annie”, Liesl in “The Sound of Music”Sylvani a.k.a. Jemima (meaning ‘little dove‘) in “CATS the Musical” (she played the role both in the Antwerp and a London production), and more roles as understudy.

In 2002, she successfully essayed the role of Julia in “Romeo en Julia: van Haat tot Liefde” (R&J), the Belgian production of, well, you’ve guessed it by now. That was her first-ever lead role, complete with a CD release of the show’s songs where you can hear her sing, and believe me, as you will later find out, her voice before was and still is a subject of much debate.

What Curious Cats Ought to Know
veerle-casteleyn-as-Jemima

Veerle as Jemima in the film version of CATS The Musical

To those not familiar with Veerle, she is actually best-known (so far) as Jemima, the cute kitten in Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s (ALW) “CATS The Musical” video, whose wisdom is far beyond her years; the kitten that made Veerle famous (to musical-lovers, at least). On second thought, Veerle made Jemima famous. Though she was first played by the great Sarah Brightman (best-known as the original Christine Daaé of “The Phantom of the Opera”, another ALW masterpiece), Jemima had always been a minor role and was not at all that noticeable until Veerle came along and immortalized her on video.

Veerle was only about 19 or 20, the youngest in the whole ensemble in fact, when she joined the production.  She would later play Jemima on a more regular basis in the West End, as well as do swing parts (a swing is like a bit player) and, more impressive, Victoria the White Cat and Rumpleteazer as an understudy. These two latter roles should tell you how great a dancer Veerle really is. After all, both require superb dancing skills and “Energizer”-charged moves. Not to mention, playful with a sensual flair. Vicky alone always gets to display her dancing prowess, often taking center stage.

ALW had to choose the best performers for the roles, especially since the show was to be shown in another form. Jemima’s role called for a “little, young thing with a wonderful, wide-open face” and Veerle was definitely IT. (See her in the video below smiling so sweetly with Jo Bingham who played Etcetera at 0:29-0:31, then choreographer Gillian Lynne is talking about her as you see her at 1:00-1:09).

(Below, you’ll see her all over the video having her whole look done)

(Now watch her duet with the great Elaine Paige…)

Many viewers get enthralled upon seeing her sweet face and large, expressive eyes during her solo parts. Maybe it helps that she is, indeed, a lovely girl with an unusual charm even sans makeup. However, any other lovely girl would have been hard-pressed to pull it off the way she did in the film. Veerle obviously knew how to work it and project what needed to be projected. Besides, she was not all-face, too. She was the shortest but she wasn’t short in talent at all. She proved to be one of the giants, holding her own against or alongside other great talents like John Partridge (as Rum Tum Tugger) and Phyllida Crowley-Smith (as Victoria).

(This was the first-EVER video that I saw of her online WITHOUT the makeup…I was so excited!!! I forget what year that was, but the Internet wasn’t like how it is now, so it was not easy finding it. In fact, I think somebody just shared it in the forum that I joined in. Very short interview clip, but very dear.)

This Cat’s Meow

Undoubtedly, it is her duet with the Great Elaine Paige who reprised her role as Grizabella, that often leaves the biggest mark in most viewers’ mind. Paige is obviously way up there in the superstar department, having amazingly sung the most original version of ‘Memory’. Still, perhaps, part of the charm of the said duet is “Veerle’s” singing voice…

Now is the time when I have to address the issue of dubbing. In the credits, you will read somewhere that Jemima’s singing voice was dubbed by Helen Massie. That is correct. The long-standing issues here have been: “Why was Veerle dubbed?” and “Didn’t she sing anything in the film?”

The why has been answered time and time again! It wasn’t because she couldn’t sing, but due to her strong accent at the time of the filming that affected her English. Veerle may not be the greatest soprano around, and maybe she was pretty raw back then, especially with no formal voice training, but she delivered. Quite convincingly, in fact. As for the second question, it has not been properly addressed yet. Nevertheless, we who have seen the film more than we should can say that she actually did sing in many parts of the video. Where exactly? I will leave the fun of finding it out to you.

[Ed. THIS is how her voice would have sounded singing her solo parts or with a few cats, just fast-forward to 1:30, though she is everywhere in the vid dancing. Meanwhile, CLICK HERE and HERE to hear her sing in “R&J” — these are my fave of hers from that musical, her first real recording ever, though the voice is really raw, but I think that’s exactly what made her perfect for the role of a young and naive protagonist. She sang in seven songs. Meanwhile, I found her discography as well.]

veerle-as-jemima-in-CATS-DVD

The CATS DVD Jemima poster…Image from the Net but I’m pretty sure The Really Useful Group (RUG) has the rights to this as well as all other CATS images

As I said, Miss Feather made Jemima, so much so that when the movie was released, the wide-eyed, innocent-but-wise li’l kitty was a big hit. Soon, the movie’s off- and on-line release posters and ads featured Jemima holding a “CATS” DVD, etcetera. Why not Grizabella? Or Old Deuteronomy? Or Munkustrap? Or Rum Tum Tugger? Or any of the major roles? The answer may have been “Why not Jemima?”

Jemima is also easily remembered now. The girls love to imitate her and wish they look like her, cat or not. The boys mostly drool at her (especially those who look for and find her unmade-up countenance). Let’s face it. She is easily one of the most beautiful cats in the show, if not the most, ’cause that, of course, depends on taste.

Let the Cat Play

Moving on…Post-“CATS”, Veerle did several plays/musicals onstage again. As mentioned, she did the London production. Then it was in various other productions for her as she toured UK/Europe, The Netherlands and her home country, Belgium: “Carousel” (as Louise in the UK tour),“A Little Night Music” (as Fredrika on the Netherlands tour), “R&J” (Belgian production…another girl acted for The Netherlands tour), “Fiddler on the Roof” (as Chava…great solo ballet sequence, I’m sure), “Alleen op de Wereld” (as the adult Remi), “Dracula” (as part of the ensemble), and “Mamma Mia!” (ensemble).

romeo-en-julia

Veerle played the lead female in Romeo en Julia opposite Davy Gilles. The show was produced by the Belgium Music Hall

romeo-and-julia-death scene

Julia is devastated to find Romeo without life…

She didn’t always get the major parts. But that’s show business. Veerle knows that. Meanwhile, she also found time to make her TV debut in an episode of the police show “Flikken” (‘Police’, in the Sporen episode) as Elke de Brock, rape victim.  Then she became part of the short-lived courtroom drama “De Wet Volgens Milo” (‘The Law According to Milo’) (2004-2005) as law firm intern Sonja who’s “youthful enthusiasm and ambition often gets her into trouble” (this is a loose online translation of the info I found on the show’s site).

If that wasn’t enough, some people reported spotting Veerle in a commercial somewhere, but they’re just speculations. Meanwhile, as far as I know, aside from singing in the “R&J” soundtrack, she recorded at least one song (again, as far as I know for now) for the “Alleen op de Wereld” soundtrack (CLICK HERE).

(See her in “Romeo en Julia — van Haat tot Liefde” at 8:42-8:51, so do a fast-forward thing. Had to find the best vid that clearly shows her especially with Davy)

(Her guest starring role in “Flikken”, ‘Sporen’ episode. Do not even try to auto-translate, it sucks)

(Very short clips from the TV show she was a part of…Is it me or does somebody love mixing reddish shades and blue?)

The Cat of a Feather

Veerle knows she has yet to make a bigger mark to be really called famous, despite the fact that she indeed achieved semi-superstar status with a still growing number of fans scattered all over the globe. She has achieved something that most performers still only dream of. Yet, swell-headed she is not.

Ironically, this girl is a very shy individual in person, embarrassed by the amount of attention given her. Perhaps, too, she feels the pressure of living up to what people expect from artists they admire, or it’s possible she simply does not like being admired for her looks alone. Veerle has actually expressed surprise and bewilderment by all of this. She is so unassuming to the point of being unintentionally private; thus, we only have what little more personal information about her we have. This, by the way, does her real good. Stalk her not, please.

It has been proven several times that she isn’t a snob either. Veerle might be private, but she is definitely not a snob. Though the instances are few, accounts of her have been made, not any of them negative. Not yet. Hope not. If you’re lucky, she just might recognize and surprise you by linking arms with you at the parking lot (that is, if her shyness does not get to her first). She may visit your forum and leave a message even if only once.

veerle-casteleyn-forum-post

To everyone’s surprise and delight, Veerle actually posted a message on the forum! Shoney Cat was going to The Netherlands to see her perform live in a musical. Johan is Veerle’s friend. Jemimus, the original forum’s creator, had seen Veerle many more times than any of us at the the time, plus Veerle knew him…To enlarge, right-click, “View Image”, then zoom in/out

She may meet up with you if she knows you’ve come all the way from across the globe just to watch her in a show, which dialogues you don’t understand anyway. Or she may spend even just a bit of time chatting with you online.

veerle-casteleyn-chats-online

The very rare moment that Veerle actually went online and chatted with her fans. Shared by Steven, the forum moderator at the time…To enlarge, right-click, “View Image”, then zoom in/out

That is provided that you…

(1) will understand she types slow, being admittedly not-so-techno- and Net-savvy.

And….

(2) won’t go borderline creepy and scare her away.

And of course, ambush photo shoots with fans, that’s a given…

veerle-casteleyn-autograph

See how nice her pernmanship is! This is a cropped portion lifted off an actual poster she personally signed for a fan

That’s about it when it comes to getting a bit more glimpse of what Veerle is.  And oh, did I tell you she has a very nice, curvy penmanship?

Cats Sometimes Take a Bow, Too

At present, as of this writing, Veerle is already preparing—or maybe already rehearsing—for the role of Electra for this year’s Dutch production of “CATS”. Yes, you die-hard Veerle-fans, I hate to be the bearer of a really-not-so-“bad” news, but she isn’t playing Jemima. Veerle opted not to do her, a personal decision. [Ed. See update after this article.] I am not surprised. One can only do a routine role so much. She said it herself, she wants a new challenge.

Veerle Casteleyn may still be ‘a kitten still wet behind the ears’ (sorry, I just like saying that), but one thing is definite–this cat is not going anywhere but up! Kitty heaven, here she comes!!!

 

Copyright © J.Gi Federizo

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UPDATES: Veerle has since done the Dutch “CATS”, as reported she would do, and I gave a link to a vid somewhere above. She was a swing member doing…

“…(1st cover for Electra, 1st cover for Sylvani aka Jemima, and 2nd cover for Victoria). She took over the role of Jemima full-time in the summer of 2007. ‘CATS’ premiered in Rotterdam in October, and toured the Netherlands until October 2007.” (Wikipedia)

Then she did “Les Miserables” (ensemble), “Oliver!” (ensemble/Charlotte) and “Musical Droomvlucht” (ensemble). From what I found out, she worked or works (not sure if she still does–dunno if it was a one-time deal or what) as a choreographer for Diluna Dansstudio. She choreographed their 2015 “CATS” musical, as can be seen below. They are the ONLY pics of the ever-elusive Veerle I’ve found from there. There’s not even a mention of her there except on NieuwsBlad.be. On the caption, she was said to be a top choreographer, so I am hazarding a guess that she’s been doing choreography these past years.

I am most probably right as I recently found — or rather, someone else found and privately shared to me — recent proof of it. If I were Dutch or Belgian, I probably could actually find her. We think we also found a real social media account. She’s really kept everything very private, you won’t exactly see a thing on her own page to confirm anything. Besides, it seems inactive. If it is her real account, she probably won’t want it shared to the public unless it’s a fan page. So forgive me if I don’t share it. Please don’t ask for it from me even secretly. I intend to honor my promise to the sharer and especially to respect Veerle’s privacy. If people start flooding her inbox with messages, she could guess I gave her away — I don’t want her to hate me.

We did try our luck by sending messages to her, but..well, we know our Veerle. I just told her it’s okay and I’m just happy to have found her. Anyway, let’s just see if she attends the premiere of the new CATS movie. My guess is she won’t be there, but I’ll let her surprise us 🙂

veerle-castelyn-choreography

Veerle doing choreography for Diluna Dansstudio’s “CATS” show

veerle-casteleyn-choreography

I wonder which part of the musical she is working on here….

See if you can find Veerle here

You can actually find the above same article as The Veerle Essay, posted with my permission, at the Unofficial Veerle Casteleyn Fansite, which is owned by a fellow fan. There’s a mention of a certain “Gracie” as author — that’s me.

You see, I wrote this first for my Multiply blog years ago, and around the same time, I joined the Steven’s Veerle Forum, which I believed to be already inactive for years. But I found out the “new” one, VeerleForum.com , and registered. The old became inactive not because it had a few active members but due to technical problems (won’t go into details anymore). I had been a fan a few years before the writeup.

If you’re looking for more updated info, based on my current research, as I keep saying, not much has been found out about her in later years, which saddens me a bit. I’ll continue my research, though. Do let us know of any new information about Veerle. You’ll be compensated with a lot of virtual hugs, kisses, and heartfelt thank-yous!

 

Lastly, just to let you know, this is my  “L” post for the A-to-Z Challenge (so that explains the title more, hee…).

L

Into The Woods We Go Again…

And because I am a musical freak, I am sharing Miss Alli’s post. I haven’t seen this one on stage so I was glad to find her post in my Reader. ENJOY!!!

Eclectic Alli

You have to, every now and then…

Into The Woods

Into the Woods Into the Woods (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim

“Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell, children will listen…”

fairy-tale-blogathon-forbidden-fruit - CopyToday I’m participating in a Fairy Tale Blogathon, hosted by Movies Silently!  I highly encourage you to check out the  other posts, where bloggers are exploring movies (and shows) inspired by Fairy Tales.

Of course, I snatched up Into The Woods (and by snatched I mean I saw that no one had said they’d write about it and was downright gleeful).  I’ve written a bit already about Into The Woods (and have plans to go see it…perhaps on Christmas.)

Into The Woods is one of those shows that weaves together well known fairy-tales, with new twists.  Into The Woods also draws on other works.  In an interview in the Paris Review, Sondheim notes that, while…

View original post 730 more words

Lea, Kim and Miss Saigon

lea-salonga

So pretty. This is one of the pics they use when she does shows and guest stints

I’ve never been one to request for a photo-op with an artist, regardless of whether I like him/her or not. I just content myself with looking then say, “Alright, I’ve seen you, and I can now put you in my Artist I Saw Personally list.” But you know what? I decided long ago that if it were Lea Salonga, I would break my rule and be more, let’s just say, “proactive.”

Did I? Break the rule, I mean? Yes, I did, back in 2008. For Miss Saigon‘s first-ever Kim, I did, gladly. Oh, but that story I will reserve for some other time.

Right now, I just would like to share to you my favorite artist and this video that was recently taken, from the 25th anniversary of the musical Miss Saigon. She is joined in a song here by fellow-Filipina Rachelle Ann Go who currently plays Gigi (also first played by Filipina Isay Alvarez) on West End. I’ve never been a Rachelle Ann fan but I think she did well here, fortunately.

If you are a play or musical enthusiast, this is for you! If you are not one, or not yet one, I hope you enjoy this as well  🙂

 More of it in the Philippine Star and Rappler

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Well, this is embarrassing. The video is now set on private. Oh, well. The link stays until I find another one on YouTube.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that…I mean if you were able to view it before. Feel free to share your thoughts below 🙂

Lea and Her BABY Ten Years Ago #atozchallenge2014

NOTE: I can’t believe it’s been ten years! I had several ideas for my “L” post for the A-to-Z Challenge until I decided that I wanted to feature my favorite artist, Lea SalongaI wanted to post either what I wrote before about her anniversary concert that I attended or my story on how I met her face to face and my little anecdote about it. Truth is I couldn’t find them. But I found THIS and I don’t mind sharing it at all 🙂 I’m just surprised that I read that the production was back in 2004. Time sure does fly! 

By the way, I know “L” comes before “M,” but I’m just making up for what I missed. Cut me some slack 🙂

Sorry for there doesn’t seem to be paragraph breaks. Will fix soon…

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lea-salonga-babyReality is, what drew most of Atlantis Productions’ BABY The Musical‘s audience to march to Meralco Theater – literally from the gate to the building for this writer – consists of two words and five syllables: Lea Salonga. She was, of course, a big crowd-drawer. The posters said it all. “Lea Salonga in BABY The Musical.”

But what made people smile afterwards, long before the show was over, was a combination of four things: Lea, the story, the music, and the whole production itself. More than any one of the audience asked for or expected. I, for one, while excited about watching a musical, only psyched myself to enjoy watching the actress should the show proved the opposite of engaging. Oh, but it was engaging! And I had nothing to worry about.

Richard Maltby Jr.‘s BABY The Musical tells the story of three couples – Lizzie Fields (Salonga) and Danny Hooper (David Shannon), Pam (Agot Isidro) and Nick Sakarian (Jett Pangan) , and Arlene (Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo) and Alan McNalley (Miguel Faustmann).

Couple Number One. Lizzie and Danny, both in college, are living in together. They get the shock of their lives when the stork suddenly decides to drop them a visit and leave a gift. The practical and organized world of Lizzie is suddenly invaded by a third party, by the discovery that she is pregnant. It would make for a typical story. Guy finds out, guy runs away. But no. Instead, Lizzie is the one afraid of making the commitment and doing what Danny deems necessary, which is to get married. For Lizzie, “I don’t wanna get married because I don’t wanna get a divorce!” While she is prepared to be with Danny and raise the baby, marriage is not something she wants to say yes to.

(See and hear Lea perform with Liz Callaway Lizzie’s song “The Story Goes On” below)

Couple Number Two. Pam and Nick is a couple in their 30’s, married for two years, and still childless. Suddenly, it seems their prayers are answered. Pam, after a visit from the hospital, informs her husband that she is finally pregnant! The already-happy couple is now much happier. Finally, a baby!…The celebration is short-lived, however. They soon find out that, yes, Mrs. Sakarian is with child, only it is Nick’s sister-in-law. Having failed, they decide to consult a doctor and soon find out the cause. Then follows the hilarious attempts to conceive and the conflict that goes with the problem.

Couple Number Three. Arlene and Alan McNalley, in their 40’s, are prepared for a lifetime of being “TWO”, that is a family minus all their three kids. Arlene looks forward to finally having time alone with her husband at last, having sent their youngest child off to college. She is in, however, for a rude awakening. As said, “…a night of unexpected passion lands them back where they started” …Pregnant! Alan is overwhelmed with joy. Arlene, unfortunately, obviously isn’t. A new baby in the family just isn’t what she needs now, not anymore.

To be honest, a part of me was really interested in seeing the show because of the premise. Why wouldn’t BABY be interesting? It is, after all, about relationships between men and women, and particularly about the responsibility that often follows – raising children. As Maltby said, BABY is about that something that is not really rare and, yet, is often taken for granted…Or something like that.

Based on the book by Sybille Pearson, the musical does not only tell of interwoven stories, oftentimes “told” with humor. Behind the laughs, however, lie the serious problems that come with having a baby and that need to be addressed. It tackles concerns such as pre-marital sex, living in, women’s lib, sterility, age, and yes, even abortion. Etcetera. Not all of these are directly mentioned throughout the course of the play, nor does it tend to be preachy. You’d have to be dumb, though, not to notice the subtle hints at times. Either that, or you were sleeping.

Baby-musical-cast

THE CAST (from left to right): Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Miguel Faustmann, David Shannon, Lea Salonga, Agot Isidro, and Jett Pangan

Lea as Lizzie was perfect. Playing a 20-year-old didn’t seem to be a “STREEETCH,” unlike what she herself said. Not at all. The voice was as crystal clear as ever, both in singing and speaking. That is a trait that sets her apart from most actors today and makes her Number One in many people’s books. And man, did I laugh when she danced and bounced, big belly and all! No wonder Julie Andrews loves her voice…Lea. You just gotta love her.

David was convincing, as well, as Danny. Listening to him sing reminded me of the character Chris in Miss Saigon. Oh, but wait. He did play Chris in the U.K Tour of M.S.! Four things I like about the guy: he sings well, he sang “I Chose Right,” he played Rum Tum Tugger and Marius in a CATS and a Les Miserables production respectively, and he is married to an equally talented Filipina artist, Ima Castro! And – oh! – he signed the cover of my Collector’s Edition CD, so that makes it five! Well, his presence in the theater scene is surely welcome and appreciated.

menchu-lauchengco-yulo

Got pic from HERE

From the role of Schrintze in Fiddler on the Roof  in 1978 to this year’s Arlene, Miss Menchu has indeed proved her mettle in the business. It seems I liked that mettle and it has made a fan out of this writer. Listening her do the solo piece “Patterns” gave me the goosebumps, the very good kind of goosebumps. Despite that she is a great actress, though, she still did not come across as forty-ish, which Arlene should have been, and which she actually is. Miss Menchu, with all that faux curly locks that were intended to make her appear 43, is really a very beautiful woman who looks much younger than she actually is. So I guess this comment is more of a good kind of negative response, if you know what I mean.

Mister Faustmann was actually my problem. Of course, he was a good actor. His recent awards say it all. The show, however, did not showcase much of his singing talent. He did have his own solo, ”Easier To Love,” which I liked, but it was not much to give me the same kind of goosebumps as aforementioned. Not his fault, I know. It just was not meant to be goosebump-y, but rather a humorous take on and comparison between love for a spouse and love for a child. Guess which is easier.

The show bared two revelations, namely Jett and Agot.

jett-panganPre-theater, the only songs that I could remember The Dawn frontman singing were not really that impressive, for me, at least. But ever since I found out his stints in shows such as The Rocky Horror Show and Tick, Tick, Boom!, I had been interested in seeing him perform. Whoah, baby! The show gave me the opportunity to hear the man, and boy, was I surprised! All I can say is he has got one of the best voices that I ever heard, ever! Jett could act as well, bringing the house down with his portrayal of funnyman Nick. On both occasions that I watched (yes, I watched it twice), he got the audience clapping wildly at curtain call.

Agot, like I said, was quite a revelation as well. Onstage, the prim and proper lady we had come to know suddenly transformed into a funny, kikay, and yes, daring woman. Well, at least, more daring than the usual Agot. The novice among them (she recently starred in her first musical, TrumpetsHonk!), she held her own against the more seasoned actors. She has become a better actress and a better singer as well. The sporty persona of her character Pam, though, just was not Agot. For a basketball coach, she sure played ball like – should I say it? – a girl. But it was not a major concern, anyway, so who actually cared?

The whole story would not be complete without the Ensemble. Very special mention to the great people who provided all sorts of characters that helped mold the whole story and piece it together. The show was not found wanting, what with such great talents such as Chari Arespacochaga, Cathy Azanza, Topper Fabregas, Christine Sambeli-Marquez, Jun Ofrasio and Robie Zialcita (whose doctor was quite a riot with Nick and Pam). Most of them are theater veterans. Kumbaga, ‘di matatawaran ang galing. (In other words, their great talents are all worth it.)

My only complaint was during ”The Ladies Singing Their Song,” most of the ladies didn’t look their part. The tennis women and the woman with ten kids did sound older but looked much younger. I mean, I would kill to have those figures and legs! Sure, older women do have the right to look gorgeous (Miss Menchu comes to mind again), but let’s face it. In reality, how many older women you know actually look like that?

Now comes the part where we criticize the music…Frankly, I find it a daunting task as I have come to love the songs, a collaboration of two wonderful musicians. Maltby’s lyrics, set into music by David Shire. Deadly combination. Add in an orchestra led by Gerard Salonga and his baton. Maltby, himself, said it. BABY’s music is not like the usual stuff we musical-lovers have come to expect. Heck, the story is not the usual stuff. That all the more makes it dear. The story, the music, the setting, the production, the whole of it, however contemporary, is a classic. Classic in the sense that whatever period it is, it will always sound fresh. The musical was written and first done in the early ‘80s. If I haven’t told you that, would you have realized it? No. That’s how un-antiquated it is.

All in all, BABY The Musical, under the direction of Bobby Garcia, was quite a success indeed. True, Lea’s name dragged people’s butts away from other activities and into the Meralco Theater seats. The smiles on people’s faces after the show, however, were the result of the whole new musical experience. Ladies and gentlemen, it was a bouncing BABY!!!

Meanwhile, here’s one of my favorite BABY songs:

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I hope you enjoyed what you read almost as much as I enjoyed the show ten years ago.

This post is a part of…

a-to-z-challenge