The Bible in burlesque

Theater Review
Presented by MusicArtes
Directed by Anton Juan
May 6-21
Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Ave. corner
Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City

By Sujata S. Mukhi

Growing up in Malate, sandwiched between two edifice complexes of Catholic education, it seemed inevitable, and even quite natural that I spent many Saturday afternoons with my siblings re-enacting the only two existing religious musicals of the time: Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell, both released as films in 1973. I was diehard JCS: you could not take away my intense, brooding, slightly wall-eyed Ted Neeley, who played JC, from my night time reveries of being his Mary Magdalene in the desert. My sister, on the other hand, liked the light hearted musicality of Godspell, the clown persona of Jesus alias Victor Garber — yes Alias’ Victor Garber! — that made spiritual teachings a performance. To this day, the six-line song “Day by Day” (which actually is five sentences because of a repeated line) is the only song she knows the full lyrics to. My brother on the other hand would not be caught dead with a shawl around his head to play Mary Magdalene (or maybe he did, once? A pioneer of cross-gender casting?), and took on JCS’ JC, sometimes Pontius Pilate, and many times the heinous Roman soldier crucifying anything and anyone in sight: my mom’s arm laid on the back of a sofa; my dad’s feet on the floor; a cat lying on its back, too hot to protest with the accompanying sound effect of “tak tak tak” as its paws were “nailed” to the bed. (Note please before the slacktivists descend that no human nor animals were ever harmed in that ’70s pasyon.)

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Godspell for a new century

<i>Godspell</i> for a new century

AN UPDATED, topical take on the hippy-dippy 1970s original, MusicArtes’ production of Godspell starts out confusing, but develops into a joyful, moving, interactive, and eminently enjoyable night at the theater. With a lovely performance by the multi-talented Jeff Flores as Jesus, who is ably supported by an ensemble of veterans — Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, OJ Mariano, Shiela Valderrama-Martinez, Caisa Borromeo, Poppert Bernadas, Topper Fabregas, Red Concepcion, Stephen Viñas, Abi Sulit, Maronne Cruz, Rhenz Gabalonzo and Gab Pangilinan — who joke, dance, sing, play the ukulele, and alternately break your heart and make you laugh. Directed by Anton Juan.

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