Everything in Life is Only For Now

Whew! What a weekend! Had a blast watching Avenue Q and when my sis and I came home we went straight to our computers. I played the Avenue Q OST in loop (coz singing it aloud didn’t quell my need to hear more of its catchy tunes), went to YouTube to search for more video clips, hunted down info of the cast members, and replied to the email of the wife of one of the cast members congratulating them on the great run. I intended to blog immediately about it but I got too caught up in the savoring the moment (a.k.a. staring blankly into space and smiling), I couldn’t bring my fingers to type – thus this overdue post.

My sister on the other hand started quickly on her journal entry and made a mean review of it. She loved it so much she stayed up for 36hrs just so the day wouldn’t end! 😛 She had a different view on the whole production being a master puppeteer herself. I don’t think any other reviewer had the same affinity she had with the challenges the cast went through.

For me, the best part are the songs. They have a way of making you exclaim “heeeey yeaaah!” at every other line. The messages strike too close to home far too many times. However, since I know most of the songs already, what I came to see was the delivery. I was doubtful that they would stick to the exact singing style and delivery of the original cast since an artist’s own touch of creativity tends to come out one way or another.

I was mildly surprised when they sounded very much like the original cast recording. If it weren’t for the lapels and the slight deviation in lyrics, I would have thought they were lipsynching. I wasn’t immediately taken in by the first few songs however, but as the show progressed, my respect for the cast grew exponentially.

I know Rachel Alexandro is a good pop singer but I have yet to see her act. (I have stopped watching TV since 2005 so I don’t really know if she appears there.) I still needed proof of her capabilities in musical theater. She delivered the first songs of Kate Monster decently but when she started controlling both Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut and changing voices and personalities with them, I didn’t want to believe my eyes and ears! My sister said controlling a puppet is hard and very tiring enough so it’s an almost impossible feat to sing while doing it (coz breathing hard would be so audible) – but she did it – and  changing personae while at it! Only her speaking lines left a little to be desired for. She tended to stand with only her profile seen by the center of the stage, thus half of the audience can only see her (and the puppet’s)  back most of the time.  Not a biggie, coz she greatly redeemed herself by shocking the audience by going all out in Special. (A video of her singing can be viewed here.)

Joel Trinidad kept us amused by staying true to the real-life personality that he projected (basing on a previous interview): an insufferable roomie reminiscent of frat boys such as Nikky, a loud and perverted porn connoisseur such as Trekkie  Monster, and a buddy your momma will never allow you hanging around with such as Bad Idea Bear… Ang kulet!! Watching him move and talk was enjoyment enough. I imagine changing his speaking and singing voice to match three characters is hard, but in all the time he was on stage I felt he was enjoying every minute of it.  Seems like he was only playing. Maybe if he didn’t have to have coordinated movements with Thea Tadiar Everyly (his partner puppeteer for Trekkie and Nikky) he would have done something crazy… no, crazier.

It was the master puppeteer of Princeton and Rod who came as a surprise to me. I have not heard of Felix Rivera before (or maybe I’m that much of a hermit). After searching about him, he had apparently been around appearing as an alternate in a past musical of Rep and he was in the previous runs of Avenue Q and Spelling Bee. I have not found any fan site nor major interview. He seems like a completely newcomer in Philippine musical theater… but in my opinion, HE WAS THE MOST AWESOME! He is a very lively actor who was able to directly translate character into the puppets he controlled. I liked him better as Rod since he was able to bring out the incredulousness of the character all the time. Princeton, being the stereotypical guy who causes women heartaches unintentionally by being uncouth and clueless, needed not much interpretation. I foresee Felix making it really big very soon.

I remember seeing Aiza Seguerra last as a cute child star who was the apple of the eye of the Filipino masses.  Before I came to watch I was thinking how much of a challenge it would be for her to portray a washed-up child star of the ’80s that the generation of now has hardly heard of – Gary Coleman. But when she delivered a line saying how she felt being the has-been child star that she is now, it hit me! She was the perfect pick! The producers couldn’t have gotten a better actor to fit the role so the audience would be able to understand Gary!

I hardly know Calvin Millado, but I find him as animated as the puppets in the show. I didn’t know who Frenchie Dy was, however. Only later did my sister tell me she was part of a reality TV show (or wait, was it a singing contest?… Forgive this television ignoramus.)

There were three songs there that I haven’t really listened to before (coz I didn’t have the complete MP3 download): If You Were Gay, Schadenfreude, and I Wish I Could Go Back to College. It felt very fresh listening to them for the first time. ‘I Wish I Could Go Back to College’ is what hit home and brought tears streaming down my cheeks. It made me realize that there really are times when you want to hide in the comforts of youth and your past and not grow old, but even if you don’t want to, moving forward is inevitable coz even if you try to go back, it still won’t be the same as it was the first time, no… the real and only time… that you were there.

I got frustrated with majority of the audience though. They didn’t get many of the really funny quips. The actors even adjusted the lines a bit so that the people would get the punchlines… still, didn’t work. There were notable times when the auditorium should have boomed with laughter or shrieked with indignation:

1) The time when they were debating if Jesus was Black or White, then Princeton said “Guys, Jesus was Jewish.”

2) When Princeton said he was old… then said he was 22. (The audience should have gone crazy and said “Twenty-two is old?!?! WTF are you talking about?!”)

3) When Princeton said that he wants to find his purpose in life that’s why he has to stop dating Kate, coz ever since they started being around each other, he has somehow “lost his way.” (Die, bastard!)

4) When Princeton was making love to Kate and he said “You can’t put your finger there!… Put your finger there!!” (Enjoying the dirty, are we!)

5) When Rod made a mistake saying his girlfriend is named Vancouver instead of Alberta, making it obvious he was just making the whole thing up.

6) Allusions to the life of Gary Coleman

To top it all off, being conservative and “shy”, most people still needed to wait for other people to stand before they reluctantly stood to applaud. The curtain call ended before everyone was standing and clapping. I feel bad for the actors for not getting a full standing ovation on their last show.

I wish I was able to give my memory of that night the justice it deserves. I do not wish to only describe it as “Ang galing!” like the other members of the audience as we trooped out of the RCBC auditorium. This local production of Avenue Q was done with world-class standards and deserves a more hearty approval from the Filipino audience.

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