Tuesday, January 18, 2011

From lifestyle.inquirer.net

Balagtas invades the malls
By Amadís Ma. Guerrero
Philippine Daily Inquirer
(Original Article can be found HERE)

“OROSMAN at Zafira,” a komedya in verse, is perhaps Balagtas’ (Francisco Baltazar) greatest work after “Florante at Laura.” The manuscript was believed lost for many decades until it was found by the scholar Buenaventure Medina Jr. in the Balmaceda collection of the National Library in 1974.

“Orosman at Zafira” is a komedya or moro-moro, in which all the characters are Moros, in fact, Muslims not fighting against Christians but warring among themselves in a struggle for power. It is also a love story, as the title indicates, with Zafira falling in love with Orosman unaware that he has killed her father.

A duel at the end brings about peace among the Muslim groups.

The komedya in its original form was first presented by Rolando Tinio in the mid-1970s at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, with an all-star cast headed by Tommy Abuel as Orosman and Celeste Legaspi as Zafira, plus José Mari Abellana and (the late) Ella Luansing, Aurelio Estanislao and Rene Requiestas.

Then, in 1993 came a production by Tanghalang Pilipino, with John Arcilla and Alan Paule alternating as Orosman and Irma Adlawan as Zafira. It was directed by Jonas Sebastian, with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, no less, providing the music.

In 2008, Dulaang UP reinvented and adapted the play in verse, transforming it into a jazzed-up show with neoethnic music (by Carol Bello), choreography by the director (Dexter M. Santos) and martial arts. Critics raved, and the production was restaged last year by the financially-challenged company.

And now, Dulaang UP, in partnership with Bit by Bit Development Company, is bringing back the play, not at the University of the Philippines’ Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater this time, but at the SM Mall of Asia Centerstage Theater starting Feb. 4, 8 p.m.

The show will run for four weekends until Feb. 26, and there are 3 p.m. matinees on Fridays and Saturdays. Jay Gonzaga is Orosman, while Maita Ponce and Delphine Buencamino alternate as Zafira. The cast includes Roeder Camañag and operatic tenor Nezer Salcedo backed up by the Dulaang UP ensemble of actors, singers, dancers, martial artists, gymnasts and what-have-you.

The forthcoming production was announced in a recent press conference at the Mall of Asia’s Imax Theater Lobby. The executive producer is Darwin Mariano, a lawyer and musical theater buff who went into transports of excitement when he first saw the play at the UP in 2008.

“I felt it deserved a bigger stage,” he told the press con.

“Now is the time to do it… I am producing this show because not enough of us realize the genius of Francisco Baltazar and the values of good citizenship, discipline and faith that underlie his works.” Mariano is from Balagtas (formerly Bigaa), Bulacan, birthplace of the poet.

This adaptation, however, ends on a note of despair, not in keeping with Balagtas’ vision. The director is saying: When will the wars, when will the struggle for power end? These are recurring issues.

“We do not pretend to be showing a komedya,” Santos said. “We are echoing what we read from Baltazar, and we share this…” And at one point he added: “We don’t believe in happy endings.”

Catch OROSMAN AT ZAFIRA on its LAST Saturday run
February 26 / 3PM / SAT @ MOA CenterStage

Ticket Price: Php350

Contact Onay @ 0918.536.2116 to reserve tickets

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