Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Monday, April 11, 2011


I will not even attempt to make a decent review of the PETA musical. By now I’m sure most of you have heard of it, and a lot of you may have even seen the play. It won’t even surprise me that some of you have seen it more than once. Yes, it is that good. So when they do a re-run a few months(?) from now, please, please, PLEASE, if you haven’t seen it and you’re gay, GOW FER EET, GURL!

(In case you’re wondering, yes, the musical can appeal to straight guys as well [or rather, let me qualify: straight guys with not-so-narrow minds]. So for you discreet gay guys who don’t want to out themselves, bring along your fave fag hag or your femme mustache and make a show of holding hands with them while in the lobby! You’ll thank them for keeping up your discreet image while they’ll thank you for bringing them to the show.)

Instead let me just gush. Osh Kosh, by gush!

The performances. Ensemble acting was never this much fun to watch. But what’s even more heartening is the fact that when it’s time for their solos, they’re all star performers individually. Melvin Lee gives a heartfelt and exquisitely nuanced performance as Chelsea, and his final solo is the wrenching heart of the play. As Kayla, Ricci Chan cements his status as the diva-negra of the stage (he can give Motown a pink run for their money). His alternate, Jerald Napoles, happens to be the only straight guy in a leading gay role, and yet you completely forget it as he pulls the role off with as much verve, panache, pizzazz and razzmatazz as any drag queen can; now that’s fierce! (In fact, my straight officemate who watched the play thought it was another cast member who was the straight guy.) Vincent de Jesus does cynical old maid to perfection; his Shai has a sharp wit and tongue that is both his strength as well as his undoing. The punchline-perfect performances by quick-witted fellow divas Buddy Caramat as Jonee, Dudz Terana and Jason Barcial alternating as Thalia round off this excellent ensemble of queens. Plus they have equally talented royal subjects supporting them in various roles.

The music. Sheer genius. The music by Vincent de Jesus is at once emotional and show-stopping, grand yet intimate, intense and flippant. When Vince asked me what my favorite song was, I couldn’t stick to just one. I especially prefer “Good Gurlz” and “The Stars Are Here Tonight” because they’re hilarious show-stoppers (as Vince aptly put it, “Good Gurlz” is “ang pekpek pero ansaya.”) And I also have to single out “Subukan Mong Alalahanin” (translated from Yehuda Amichai’s “Try To Remember Some Details”) for its bittersweet tenderness.

But I absolutely fell head-over-stilettos in love with “Pinili Niyang Maging Tanga” even on first watch. I love the juxtaposition of the dramatic, almost classic, musical arrangement and the harsh, almost crass, lyrics. There’s something instantly funny yet fatalistic about the song (and scene), the combination of sadness and mockery making it even more poignant.

Hindi mo naman matatawag na martir;
wala namang dugong bayani.
Hindi siya nilasing ng puso niya.

Pinili niya’ng maging tanga!
Pinili niya’ng maging tanga!
Sa ngalan ng pag-ibig,
Pinili niya’ng maging tanga!

Kung tutuusin, siya ang pinakamatalino;
naging sabaw ang utak ng nahalikan.
Hindi siya tinangay ng puso niya.

Pinili niya’ng maging tanga!
Pinili niya’ng maging tanga!
Sa ngalan ng pag-ibig,
Pinili niya... maging tanga!
Pinili niya’ng maging tanga!
Sa ngalan ng pag-ibig,
Pinili niya--


By the time the shiny disco ball glitters in the end, you would have been moved to tears of joy and sadness by the CareDivas. It’s a musical guaranteed to tickle you pink.


Jose C. said...

I've seen shows in NYC many times before. I never thought we have such shows here in the Philippines. Until I saw Care Divas. Wow. I think there is a new medium that the Filipinos can entertain themselves in :)

Care Divas is wonderful. I had to bring a friend the 2nd time I saw it. And I will do it again if the show should have a rerun.

orly.agawin said...

there is going to be another re-run! Check here: