Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Realizing the dream of a vibrant Baguio theater scene

After squeezing in between students, parents and other local theater patrons, the simple yet imposing set greeted us as we entered the theater. This didn't come as a surprise knowing that the indefatigable duo of Baguio theater, Atty. Damaso and Mrs. Bing Bangaoet, was behind this production of “Joseph the Dreamer.” Known for theatrical presentations with impressive production values and as the driving force behind the renowned SLU-CCA in late 90's until the early years of 2000, the Bangaoets, in the past, brought to us the unforgettable productions of “Les Miserables,” “Miss Saigon” and Lynette Carantes-Bibal's “Adivay,” among others.

After a voice-over introduction, the cast of thousands entered (ok, that's an exaggeration, but that's how usually a cast the fills up the whole stage is referred to in theater), and we felt privileged to be seated in the front row. The opening number, “Praise His Name and See It Happen,” was strong, setting the tone for the rest of the performance. Among the notable performances that night was Ian Paolo Acosta's portrayal of “Benjamin.” His mastery and compelling delivery of the spoken text was matched by his impressive singing voice. He “conquered the stage,” so to speak, with his very strong stage presence.

That evening the title role was played by Baguio's Got Talent champion, Lloyd Celzo (who alternated with Jeff Coronado for the role of Joseph), and he breezed through the whole presentation with aplomb as expected of a veteran of countless musicales. The production was a collaborative effort between the UCCP-Baguio and SLU-CCA, and I am really hoping that UCCP-Baguio will from now on be a regular player in Baguio's theater scene with more heartwarming productions such as this.

Our very own group, Open Space, recently premiered its musical revue on the history of Baguio, “Kafagway: Sa Saliw ng ng Gangsa,” and will be doing a re-run on October 16. UP Baguio's CCA recently ended its month-long run of Baguio Stories. The newly formed Sentro ng Teatrong Pilipino will be staging a play called Rizal Side B this month. And hearing the warm applause during curtain call brought a big smile to my face for I thought, Baguio theater is indeed alive and kicking.

Congratulations to the cast and staff of “Joseph The Dreamer,” and to the rest of the city's theater artists… keep 'em coming!

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