Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Take on Ampalaya The Musical

With Augie Rivera and Kora Dandan Albano
This is a late post on my experience watching Ampalaya The Musical last July 15, 2015 at the CCP.  This production was made possible by the Siliman University Cultural Affairs Committee. I was with Nico and bosom friends in the local kidslit industry. We were lucky to get seats near the stage where the orchestra was. We saw, up close the maestro, Michael Dadap, and how he conducted the musicians and their music.  As much as I love watching musicals, I also enjoy watching conductors "perform". They seem to wield an invisible force that can only be heard through music.

The music and songs whisked me back in time of fiestas and fluvial parades seen and experienced as a child growing up in the Pateros-Fort Bonifacio area. As I listened to the playful songs the vegetables sang out loud, I tried recalling the songs I sang as a child. My mother and grandmother sang lullabies and Luya's soothing Tulog Na tugged at my heart's strings. I watched the musical as an adult yearning for childhood years gone by.

The dances and choreography were equally entertaining. Despite the costumes of the actors that I found cumbersome, the clothes seem to be made of light materials that provided ease of movement to the actors wearing them. And the actors! They can sing! They can dance! They can act! As easy as their movements and songs on stage was the fluidity of how they delivered their dialogues in English, Filipino and Bisaya. Triple threat, indeed!

Masaya na si Ampalaya
My only issue on the musical is the back story of Ampalaya. In the original legend, Ampalaya has no back story to begin with. Alamat ng Ampalaya is one of my favorite stories because it does not justify Ampalya's context or misdeeds. Ampalaya stole from his neighbors because he yearns for more. More knowldege, bueaty and virtue. This yearning is not wrong. I think it is natural for all of us to dream and to aspire for more. But what Ampalaya lacked was the capacity to discern. What the original story emphasized was the consequence of Ampalaya's actions and how justice was served. And the reader is left wondering if Ampalaya has regrets as the narrative implores us to forgive him of his selfish acts.

In general, I loved the musical and despite the back story that disturbed me, it was a fun and playful romp in the Bayan of Sariwa.

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