Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A real flying carpet at "Aladdin Jr" by Repertory Philippines

Rating: 11111
Repertory Children's Theater's presentation of Disney's Aladdin Jr was a shining, shimmering, splendid shindig that brought the audience to a whole new world!

Two weeks ago, I went with Agent A to Greenbelt's Onstage theater to catch the 7:30pm Saturday night show. The last Rep Children's play that I saw, Emperor's New Clothes, was mediocre so I had no expectations as I took my seat.

But from the moment the house lights dimmed, and the theater filled with belly dancers holding candles that danced like fireflies in the dark and the familiar strains of "Arabian Nights" began to play... I had a funny feeling that this was going to be an excellent show!

Martin Esteva's lighting design coupled with Johann Quisumbing's magical set instantly transported us into "that land in a far away place..." Everything was perfectly executed and the set changes in between scene transitions were flawless!

Most of the stuff that I can remember from Disney's movie was captured in the play-- the clueless sultan, sulking Jasmine, Jafar and even his sidekick parrot Iago played by a puppet controlled by an actor clad head-to-toe in black!

I've seen quite a lot of impressive sets in the many plays that i've watched but this time I must say that Repertory Philippines has raised the bar even higher! During the scene when Aladdin discovers the genie from the magic lamp in the cave, my jaw dropped in amazement as the blue genie (yes... he was glowing blue!) magically pops out of nowhere and starts to sing "Friend Like Me". Then the ethereal backup dancers (which had Crazy Horse inspired dance moves) appeared like they were floating! And then when the magic carpet appears and starts to dance... hanep! You could hear the oooohs and the aaaahhhss from the audience as we all struggled to figure out how they did that!

(Yeah, yeah... Agent A says glow in the dark fabrics, black light, and exploiting the inherent darkness of the theater but I still think it was magic.)

I must agree with Agent A when she says that instead of Aladdin (Rem Zamora/Joel Trinidad), it was the genie (Oliver Usison with Nelson Caruncho alternating) that carried the play. Aladdin lacked that presence deserving of the title role. Niccolo Manahan captured Jafar's sinister comic-ness and his maniacal muwahaha laughter was infectious.

But for me, the real star of the show was the magnificent chorus. Excellent choral singing (kudos to the vocal coach) and the choreography was perfectly executed (I'm sure they made Douglas Nierras proud!). The young cast danced with so much energy and gusto (even if some of the dances struck me as more Egyptian than Arabian) and their singing had such passion that Agent A had to restrain me from climbing up the stage to join them make way for Prince Ali!

Five pawikan points for Aladdin Jr. I know it's a great play because 80% of the audience was under 10 years of age and this usually restless and easily distracted bunch all sat quietly enthralled throughout the hour long performance. My only regret is that I couldn't get a chance to have my photo-op with the blue genie because of the kids jostling all around!

(Aladdin Jr is playing until December 15, 2006. I highly recommend this for a wholesome family night out or for a perfect first-date/blind date.)


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this review.

Yes, Rep's "Aladdin, Jr" is a wonderful show. You can still watch it again as the show runs until December. Go and get your photo taken with the Genie! By the way, the correct spelling of the Genie's name is Nelson Caruncho.

P said...

Oops.. thanks for the correction! =)
I guess you can tell that i'm a big fan of rep!

oliver said...

hi there p, this is oliver usison.
actually, i read your review a couple of weeks ago pa but i've been extremely busy to write something back. thank you so much for the nice review, i'm really so glad you enjoyed the show. sayang, we weren't able to have our picture taken. but anyhow, just in case you want to, you can still do so, just drop by the theater whenever there's a show & i'll make sure we'll have one taken, lakas mo sa akin! hehehe!!!
if you enjoyed aladdin, i also want you to know that us in the cast also enjoy doing it everytime (although the genie is indeed tough & extremely taxing to do... but super fun!).
so if you're free just text me so that we can arrange for a re-sked for that photo op you missed, my number's 0916 340 2396 (ayan ha...)
thanks again p, everybody in the cast loved your review!

P said...

wow! a bonafide star commenting on my webpage! what an honour! =) ill try to drop by and have that elusive photo-op but thanks for the gracious invitation and keep up the excellent work! i'm looking forward to the next play.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! -- NC