Jeff was one of the nine artists who headlined the one-night only performance and, in my opinion, performed the performance of his life that night. With him was Ian Paolo Acosta, a regular performer at several watering holes in Baguio who conquered the stage and transitioned from one character to another with much ease playing a struggling writer in Sunset Boulevard, painting a portrait of the Magical Mr. Mistoffelees in Cats, Che in Evita and Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. Adrian Esplana, coming from a few years’ absence from the theater scene, floated on stage playing the title role in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” while Josef Ventura shone as Raoul in Phantom of the Opera before easing back onto his stool and guiding the band in the rest of the songs as drummer.
It was a struggle to hold back my tears listening to Gemma Gonzalez, vocalist of the band, Gwensi Sante, tell the story of Emma in Tell Me on a Sunday, and I was both elated to see Ryle Danganan mature as an actress right before my eyes and was blown away by her solid performance of that Cats soliloquy, “Memory.”
|L-R Ryle Danganan, Adrian Esplana, Gemma Gonzalez, Emerald Ventura, Josef Ventura|
|L-R Lissa Romero De Guia, Ian Paolo Acosta, Eunice Caburao, Jeff Coronado|
And these local artists were backed by an amazing band who, despite having limited rehearsals due to limited resources and time, sigh, the story of our life in the theater, breezed through Webber’s complicated musical nuances, under the baton (he actually didn’t have one, so make that fingers) of musical director Ethan Andrew Ventura – Jerrick Afaga (bassist), Josef Ventura (drums), Bryan Bandong (guitar), Patrick James Gines and Jessica Ladines (keyboards) played like a seasoned band – and except for the first three, they were playing together for the very first time that evening.
This isn’t meant as a review of my own work, for if it were I would have talked much about the missed cues here and there or the sound feedback and other technical glitches. What I wanted to share with you today is that these amazing talents are in our midst, you bump into them along Session Road taking their children to school or at the market inching their way through the crowd to get to the tilapia vendor. You sit with them in that jeep on your way to downtown Baguio, or share a shade with them picnicking at the park, and all they need is a venue, a little support from both you and City Hall, and they can help give Baguio a soul and a much more colourful, exciting and inspiring cultural skyline. And how wonderful it was to be given the opportunity, the privilege to work with them.
And performing this revue just once just doesn’t feel right. So watch for the encore when they take Baguio’s center stage in “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber,” once again with much, much good feeling.