While he never envisioned “Himala” to be a musical when he first wrote the film, Ricky Lee was still more than happy to be actively involved in the staging of a musical version of what is considered by many as the greatest of his greatest hits.
“I admit, naiinggit ako noon kina Joey Reyes who could write lyrics and librettos for several theater musical productions so when I was given a chance to write the lyrics for this musical 10 years ago, I jumped at the chance right away,” Lee told InterAksyon during the gala night of “Himala: The 10th Anniversary of the Musical” at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City.
Originally entitled “Walang Himala” when it was first staged in 2003 by the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ resident drama company, Tanghalang Pilipino, Lee wrote the libretto himself and collaborated with noted theater composer Vincent De Jesus and co-wrote the music. It was the closest attempt of the award-winning screenwriter to be a composer.
Both Lee and De Jesus must have done a pretty good job at it, too. “Himala: The Musical” originally played at the CCP Little Theater in 2003 but eventually found its way at the CCP Main Theater where it was re-staged the following year. The production even “traveled” as far as Shanghai, China as the Philippine representative to the Shanghai International Theater Festival in 2008.
Along the way, there were some minor changes made here and there. Younger audiences who have seen the digitally restored version that was released in theaters late last year should notice some glaring differences with the not-so-faithful-to-the-original approach of the musical adaptation.
What didn’t change that much is that most of the original cast and crew members are still very much involved in the 10th anniversary production, including stage director Soxie Topacio, costume designer Gino Gonzales and performers Isay Alvarez (Nimia), Cynthia Culig-Guico (Chayong), Dulce (Nanay Saling) and Aliw Awardee for Best Actress in a Musical May Bayot (Elsa) once again reprising their respective roles.
Also in the current cast are OJ Mariano, Kalila Aguilos, Jon Joven, Mia Bolaños, Myke Salomon, Lionel Guico, Melvin Lee, Angeli Bayani, Bong Cabrera, Joann Co, Mayen Estañero, Neomi Gonzales, Carlon Matobato, Red Nuestro, Onyl Torres, Viva Voce and the UST Singers Alumni. Jed Balsamo provides the live piano accompaniment.
The current version of “Himala” plays more like an intimate concert than a theater musical, as earlier hinted by its drumbeaters. With minimal choreography and more emphasis placed on the songs, less is indeed more in this particular version.
And the opening night crowd absolutely loved it. The musical played to a standing ovation during its gala night with notable personalities like National Artist Bienvenido Lumbrera, actresses Cherie Gil and Mylene Dizon and singer-songwriter Noel Cabangon as among the audience members who gave the cast a standing ovation after the play’s conclusion.
Watch HIMALA (A Celebration of the Musical)
on its closing night MARCH 24, 2013 | SUN | 8PM @ PETA
Ticket Prices: 2000 (VIP Orchestra), 1000 (VIP) and 650 (Balcony)
For reservations, contact: Onay Sales (0917.908.0565)
RC Marzan (0922.888.5348)