Dear Evan Hansen: My New Musical Favorite

I don’t remember how I got to know Dear Evan Hansen, the musical.  Maybe it is because I so love songs from various musicals and I adore Broadway musicals that is why my algorithm just simply popped Dear Evan Hansen on my internet searches in the past.

And since I live half-way around the world away from New York City, I just have to satisfy myself from listening to the beautiful soundtrack of this musical and watch snippets on YouTube of Ben Platt singing the musical’s songs on American TV shows.

where majority of the letters were written…

stole a shot at the end of the show

the cast…

One of my workmates can attest that I am a fan of this musical because when he (Chef Juan Carlos Lima) travelled New York for a short holiday 2 years ago, I actually asked him to buy me a souvenir shirt of Dear Evan Hansen. Chef Juan Carlos when I was showing him the photo of the Dear Evan Hansen shirt looked so puzzled and so funny because he does not have any idea on what I was talking about.

But now that I am in New York, I promised myself that no matter what, I will have to watch this award-winning musical.  And I did not fail myself because last Wednesday I got to actually see it at the Music Box Theatre!

Its an Experience!  Only the stone-hearted will not be moved by this musical.

where it’s running…

Dear Evan Hansen though profoundly contemporary will definitely struck everyone’s inner chord.  Everyone can actually relate to the story and there seem to be like an Evan Hansen in all of us!  And I agree to the popular reviews in past that it will instantly pierce the viewers’ heart and will burrow it through to their consciousness.  I for one was crying.  As in like C.R.Y.I.N.G!  I was like having waterfalls on my freaking face! And I was not the only one who was crying because I can actually see and hear people in the audience sniveling, sobbing and clearing their snot!

May you be a young or an old person, a parent, a person with or without a parent, a student, a worker, a friend, a person with insecurities (which everybody got), a person who feels being like an outsider (who hasn’t?), Dear Evan Hansen definitely is one of the most relatable musicals I have ever seen! Even on the first song, you will already be so hooked because it is way too relatable!  It is as if the musical knows us so much and was written about each and every one of us.

I thought I already saw my favorite musical when I was here in New York four years ago.  Well, I guess that has changed.  And I think it would take a very beautiful masterpiece of a musical to topple Dear Evan Hansen as my favorite.  Dear Evan Hansen is clearly an EXPERIENCE!

my playbill… love it!

#youwillbefound

I only have one wish now that I have seen Dear Evan Hansen.  And that is someday, this great musical arrive the shores of Manila because like what the musical says…‘no one deserves to be forgotten’.  And when it arrives in Manila, I will be one of the first persons to watch it again.

Ang galing! Peyborit!

Olay Broadway Lovers/Haters Test

Here’s some silly theory! 

To test if you’re a fan and love Broadway musicals, you would be able to finish watching and listening to this non-sense of a product face-cleanser commercial. 

But if you just stopped and suddenly scrolled down or continue with web surfing while in the middle of this Olay commercial, it only signifies that watching at least 1 Broadway musical will never be or has never been in your bucket list.

I bet you watched the whole thing! I’ve seen the commercial and finished it 3 times.  And I can’t wait to wash my face!

Kaloka! Nan-sens pero tinapos ko tri tayms!

Wicked (the musical) In Manila: A Wickedly High-End Run

This will most probably be one of the last write-ups of Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz musical as it ends its latest run here in Manila.  Me, my sisters and Nengkoy (of course) had the awesome opportunity to catch and watch the last performance night here in Manila.

We were of course bedazzled and captivated by the sheer magnificence if the costumes, the colors and the music of Wicked.  But I will not write anything about the musical for there has been millions of it in the web.  Instead, let me deliberate on the venue and the people on the night we watched the show here in Manila.

Unlike my sisters and Nengkoy, it was my first time seeing a musical show in Solaire Theatre.  I have seen a couple of shows in Broadway, New York but never was I been so stunned and dumbfounded by the high-endedness (is that a word?) of Solaire.  The theater was so modish and dashing there were moments when I doubted being in poverty-stricken Manila.  While waiting for the ushers to allow us inside the actual theater, the well-lighted foyer area was played with chic jazz music.  I never noticed or heard stylish jazz or muzak being played at the measly lobby and waiting areas of New York theaters. In some New York shows, we the audience actually have to queue at the cold and dusty side street.

nengkoy & my wicked sister with her high-end bag! bag lang nya ang high-end sa amin nung gabing yon. hahaha!

pictures muna

me & my sister… defying gravity…

And what further dumbfounded me were the rest of the audience.  Everyone was well-dressed for the night.  Well-dressed, I mean well-dressed.  Gentlemen were in their crisp long sleeve shirts with matching coat and necktie while the ladies were dressed to the nines.  Some ladies were even donning in elegant gown and seem to have been to some pricey beauty saloon prior to the show just to watch Wicked, The Musical.

I was actually so shocked, wearing just a polo shirt and my old dungarees, I could not control my utterances about the theater and the people.  I told my sisters that I have seen a couple of Broadway shows in New York but the atmosphere was never this chic, high-end and elegant.

Buti na lang di ako nag-tsinelas.  Taray… Walang ganyan sa Nyu York!

Book of Mormons Can Never Be Imported In Pinas

There have been lots of popular musicals that have been imported and graced my beloved homeland.  There were even lots of these musicals in which the West End or Broadway casts were featured.  And there were some musicals in which the company of actors were equally talented local Filipino artists trying their very best to sound and enunciate the American and/or English accent.

agree!

agree!

a nightly long queue at the theater...

a nightly long queue at the theater…

But after seeing The Book of Mormons, I can conclude that this show, though dubbed in America as the “best musical of the century” will never be imported and shown in conservative Philippines.  It is because this musical can be stunningly foul-mouthed, incredibly vulgar and breathtakingly offensive.

It pushes the boundaries of a comedic story by talking/singing about child rape, the clitoris, people with AIDS, female circumcision and even the male scrotum (with maggots).  There was even a vulgar song entitled “Hasa Diga Eebowai” which features a litany of despair and anguish that culminates in the rousing chorus stating that Hasa Diga Eebowai means “F@ck you god”.

A lot of scenes and dialogues were mockeries of true human stories that transpired and continuously happen in society. There was a song in which the continent of Africa was described as definitely not a “Lion King” of a site that one can behold.  And that an Ugandan town (which can represent a lot of places in the planet) is being oppressed and harassed by its leader whose name in the story is General Butt-Fucking Naked.

There was the mockery of innocent people in society which were made to seriously believe on stories that involved putting together snippets of events from the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.  And that these people were so innocent, they believe that the true paradise is located in Salt Lake City (the song’s sweet rendition actually made me teary-eyed).  There was even a line in one song saying that the Garden of Eden is located in Jackson County, Missouri!

where the hilarious yet smart crudeness happens...

where the hilarious yet smart crudeness happens…

aylavet!!!

aylavet!!!

winner!!!

winner!!!

But what is so amazing about this musical is that these jokes were so smart, refreshing and extremely funny without really sacrificing the kernels of life’s reality that the viewers can ponder about.  And maybe the reason why these jokes and mockeries were so effective is because these were uttered and put across by the sweetest characters that a musical could ever have.

Underneath all these jokes and mockeries, The Book of Mormon is a very moral musical. If truly assessed it has a surprisingly tender core.  It tackles about loyalty to friendship.  It tackles the hope of discovering utopia.  It tackles the beauty of innocence as well as the dangers that comes along with it.  It tackles about finding love and happiness.  It tackles about experiencing victory in the strangest of situations.  And ironic as it may seem, it is about the pureness of the heart.

It is therefore not surprising that this musical won 9 Tony Awards including Best Musical in 2011 and continuous to draw big crowds daily.  Too bad, Philippines won’t be able to see, hear and experience the pureness of the heart contained in The Book of Mormon.

Ito ang myusikal kung saan ang huling linyang sinabi kung Tatagalugin ay … “Ang Betlog Ko Pa Rin Ay May Uod!??

The Book of Mormon: An Expensive Item in My Bucket List

Four years ago, when I saw the stunning rendition of “I Believe” by Andrew Ranells from the musical Book of Mormon during the 65th Tony Awards, I promised myself that when I reached New York in the future I would definitely see this musical extravaganza.  This personal promise was reaffirmed a year after when I saw the opening number of the 66th Tony Awards which featured the song “Hello”.  Seeing the 2011 and 2012 Tony Awards then was like listing The Book of Mormon among my life’s bucket list.

[youtube:https://youtu.be/GVJgmp2Tc2s&w=350%5D

 

[youtube:https://youtu.be/OKkLV1zE8M0&w=350%5D

Four years later, such personal promise came true.  One item in my long, arduous and complicated bucket list was accomplished.  I saw, I heard and I enjoyed The Book of Mormon!

My New Yorker friend Jhong knows that months prior to my visiting New York, the one I specifically would like to do was to see this musical.  We never talked about the sites to see (except for the 66 Perry Street), the rides to take, the food to taste or the people to meet.  We simply talked about the musicals that I want to see.  And The Book of Mormons was right there on the top of our conversations.

my view and my playbill

my view and my playbill

Jhong somewhat discouraged me because The Book of Mormons right now is considered the “King of Broadway”.  Their ticket seats are ranked among the most in demand and the most expensive musical in Broadway now.  You can actually buy 2 good seats of a different musical in Broadway for the price of one mezzanine seat of The Book of Mormons.  It is so in demand, viewers cannot purchase tickets on the day they want to see the show.  Tickets must be purchased online days before they would like to see it.

When Jhong and my new friend Lee purchased the ticket for me and told me how expensive a mezzanine seat was, I told them to go ahead.  I simply said yes, closed my eyes and changed the topic for I don’t want to ponder and go nuts on how my New York travel budget has gone bloated.

it was all worth it!

it was all worth it!

And right after seeing the show, while I was standing up, clapping my hands and was shouting “Bravo!” I knew that my purchase of such expensive ticket was well vindicated.   This 4-year old item in my bucket list was one hell of a wickedly funny musical show!!!

Kahit mahal, mapapa-mura ka sa galing!

The Uncultured Me and the Sophisticated Phantom of the Opera

The first Broadway show ever that I have seen in New York (as I have written in the past few days) was Les Miserables.  After being so moved by this spectacular musical, I knew for a fact that it would be very difficult and challenging for the succeeding Broadway musical that I would watch for me to get so impressed.  Les Miserables would be a tough act to follow.

This is exactly what I felt about Phantom of the Opera.  Though it has been considered one of the longest running musicals in Broadway, I find it a little dreary.  Or maybe it’s the operatic musical genre that Phantom of the Opera has that made me feel bleak.  Except for the song “Think of Me”, which I prefer to be sang in a pop and non-operatic way, I am not that impressed with the line-up of songs.

think of me...

think of me…

 

best thing about this experience was watching it and catching up with former colleague hanah, the world traveler

best thing about this gig was watching it and catching up with former colleague hannah, the world traveler

Blame it to Martin Nievera, an old and aging pop-star in the Philippines who keeps on singing the songs from Phantom of the Opera in the TV variety shows that he would appear at.  Nievera’s obsolete rendition made me feel so fatigued about the songs of this musical.

Or maybe, the swanky and high-class music of Phantom of the Opera is so high-end and so classy and it’s just that I am the uncultured swine who fails to appreciate the elegance and chicness of its tunes.  No thanks to my underdeveloped right brain because I have yet to find the right tools so as to appreciate such musical genre.

the orchestra!

the orchestra! the people with sophisticated musical taste…

phantom of the opera will not be complete without the iconic chandelier

phantom of the opera will not be complete without the iconic chandelier

But what struck me most about Phantom is the great production design.  My goodness! The spectacular drop of the majestic chandelier right over the heads of the audience at the end of the first act was breathtaking.  Also, the colors of the masquerade ball number was truly outstanding.  Those costumes were undeniably crazy!  I was indeed transported into a different world!

Kelan ba kasi magre-retire si Martin Nievera?

Kinky Boots: A High-Heeled Surprise of My New York Adventure

surprise! surprise!

surprise! surprise!

According to Dalai Lama, “the purpose of our lives is to be happy”.  And this is exactly what I thought o after I watched the amazing Kinky Boots, the third Broadway musical show I saw in New York.

Prior to watching this Broadway musical, the only thing I know about the show is that it is a Tony award-winning musical.  I don’t know what the story is about, I haven’t heard about the music and neither do I know anything about the cast.  Blame this to my being an inhabitant living a simple life at the other end of the world.

saw kinky boots with super friend ron, a new yorker and broadway musical enthusiast!

saw kinky boots with super friend Ron, a new yorker and broadway musical enthusiast!

my ticket and my playbill

my ticket and my playbill

 

the view from my seat...

the view from my seat…

Kinky Boots is not a popular Broadway musical in Manila, unlike the classic Les Miz, Phantom, Miss Saigon or even Wicked.  But after seeing the show it actually became one of my favorites.  The story is simple and uncomplicated yet it opened a whole new perspective about prejudice, intolerance and acceptance.

There are lots of heartfelt wisdom that can be extracted from the show.  It tackles about the struggles of trying to fit in.  It is about the blossoming of life as soon as acceptance has kicked in.  It even tackled the life’s various phases: childhood, adulthood, friendship, career, life’s ambition, secret admiration and even death.  The story seem to have something for everyone.  This is without eliminating the basics of a fun, fab and highly entertaining musical: excellent music, spectacular production, gifted singing talent and hip dance moves.

Kinky Boots got a big heart!  That is why it has become one of my favorites.  And I would not mind watching it again in case I visit New York again.  If not, Kinky Boots I hope would reach the shores of Manila.  This musical would definitely be something to watch.  Charlie, Lola (the main characters) and the rest of the cast are of course welcome to perform in my city.

I’m pretty sure in case the Dalai Lama would have the opportunity to watch this musical, he himself would say “watching Kinky Boots is a must so as to live a happy life”.

Ispektakyular!