Bituing Walang Ningning: The Musical4:04 PM
Spanning 30 years, Bituing Walang Ningning's contribution to pop culture are some of the best OPM songs, Cherie Gil's iconic "copycat" line (of course), and that one brave act of letting go of fame for the person you love. Real tearjerker, yeah?
But while Resorts World Manila's musical adaptation tried its best to preserve the dramatic highlights from the movie, it wasn't really sentimental. It was an entertaining production filled with vibrant sets and costumes, a melody of smartly-added songs, a few hilarious moments, and great performances from most of its cast.
The attention and expectations of course centered on Monica Cuenco, the shy chinita who won the hearts of Viva executives to play the role of Dorina. She may not have the same sparkle as the young Sharon Cuneta but there's no doubt that she sounds better. Monica's vocals is her best feature, compensating her newness to acting. Most of the times, her delivery looked rehearsed and we are excited to see her improve in the next few days.
But you can not punish this musical for poor acting, especially when you have Cris Villongco, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and the timeless Jon Santos. We can owe it to her experiences but Cris was such a joy to watch. Her articulateness and sophistication was a different Lavinia Arguelles. She maybe mean and stubborn, but Cris made Lavinia's bitchiness amusing.
Then there's the magnified character of radio personality Edith who is played by Menchu Yulo. It's not really surprising for theater goers to see Menchu pull it off so effortlessly but for first timers, pay attention to her entertaining character.
Fresh from the previous RWM production Priscilla, Jon Santos was given a smaller role this time as Dorina's gay uncle. The role might be small but Jon's hilarious scenes are among the show's most memorable moments.
Also in the cast are Mark Bautista as Nico Escober (played by Christopher de Leon in the movie), Michael Williams as Larry Calma, Ronnie Liang as Garry Diaz, Jay Roa as Zosimo Blanco, and John Nite who interestingly plays Kuya Germs.
To the younger generation, you may think that this material is outdated for you but you will be surprised. You may be able to sing along to a lot of songs here. If you love watching local variety and musical shows on TV, for sure you'll be able to identify with Willy Cruz's beautiful repertoire; "Magandang Gabi", "Sa Duyan Ng 'Yong Pag-ibig", "Pangarap Na Bituin", "Sana't Maghintay Ang Walang Hanggan", "Kumusta Ka", "Init Sa Magdamag" and of course the theme song "Bituin Walang Ningning". The added songs include the Cebuano Ballad "Usahay", "Points of View" and "Ang Boyfriend Kung Baduy".
Jo Tecson's stage sets, meanwhile, will remind you that you are watching a Resorts World Manila production. "Bituing Walang Ningning" is undoubtedly different from the previous RWM production; Sound of Music, The King And I, Cinderella. But just because it is a Filipino material, doesn't mean it's less grand. My favorite is the last scene in Act 1 where Dorina sang the theme song for the first time. It was just her, the spotlight and the stars on the LED screens. Lighting designer Shakira Villa-Symes really made magic right there.
It will be a perfect date with your parents and friends. Catch Bituing Walang Ningning at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila. Shows run every Wednesday to Sunday until July 18. Click here (www.rwmanila.com) for the complete schedule and ticket details.