Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Welcome to Intelstar is a Palanca Award-winning one-act monologue written by Chris Martinez, the same guy who wrote the script for the Zsazsa Zaturnnah musical. Here, versatile actress Eugene Domingo (Tanging Ina) plays Chelsea, a call center trainor during the first training day of new agents, unwittingly played by the audience.

Armed with a tall Starbucks mug, an iMac, and a projector, Chelsea goes about with great enthusiasm the first-day laundry list of topics, from the company background to the basics of 'accent neutralization.' Eugene is energetic, poised and convincing in this role from beginning to end, a unique challenge when it comes to theatrical monologues. And the whole affair is downright funny, especially during part about accents.

I was with a couple of friends, both call center folks, who laughed along with me for a different reason. During our smoking break after the show, I asked them how much of the play was real and how much was spoof (spoofing? spoofery?). They said there was hardly any difference, and that made me think again about that microcosm that is the call center world, where people say "sko" and "jeet," where Teodoro's becoming Ted's or Todd's. A world that thrives at night under a cloak of non-disclosure, like an island right smack in the middle of an economic Bermuda Triangle, and the only way anyone can understand its nobility is to live in it.

Dennis Teodosio's Geegee at Waterina showcases the talents of theater veterans Lou Veloso and Paolo CabaƱero. The one-act tells of an aging 'comfort gay' (Veloso) who has been spending his days on the top floor of a building built by a closeted gay politician (CabaƱero) for elderly homosexuals. It is this setting, far above the activity of the streets below, that serves as the vessel for the characters' hope and dreams.

The play is viciously funny and yet tragically affecting. Just when things start to become brooding and serious, a well-placed one-liner sends the audience in stitches. It's that see-saw of emotions that demonstrates the bittersweet existence of the homosexual, particularly of the old comfort gay who still believes in true love and happy endings, trading inevitabilities for pipe dreams in all its fabulous forms.

The Tanghalang Pilipino twinbill of Welcome to Intelstar and Geegee at Waterina effectively provides a contrast to how we respond to our circumstances. In the former, there is resignation. In the latter, there is transcendence. Perception is choice--we can look at life either as a glass half-filled or half-full. And if you get to see this show, perhaps you'll agree with me. The ticket price may be P300, but what you get in return is worth much more.

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I dropped by the rehearsals of the Zaturnnah musical before the show. When I entered the rehearsal hall, the cast was rehearsing the "bullet-time" scene between Zaturnnah and Queen Femina. Agot smiled at me while Eula waved before Ricci bellowed an introduction to everyone. Wilma Doesnt and Lauren Novero were at the other end of the hall.

It should've been a surreal experience for me. But I guess I was anticipating the feeling so much that I regarded the whole affair so matter-of-factly (okay, it was 10% surreal), focusing my attention instead on the stage blocking and Chris Millado's direction. But it was still fascinating to see the musical slowly coming to life.

After the show, I dropped by the rehearsal hall again. This time, they were rehearsing choreography for a song, particularly the pre-battle scene where the townsfolk eagerly gather to see the "salpukan ng mga seksi." The song was very catchy and upbeat, though the choreography may be a bit of a challenge. The stage of the Huseng Batute theater is quite small, so having that many people moving about at the same time may prove confusing if the choreo isn't cleanly executed.

Then came the "transmorphication" sequence, and it was there that I almost burst. Hot dang, it was hilarious. I shan't go further. But suffice to say, I was very pleased, complete with tears in my eyes.

Last January 29, the CCP had their Pasinaya festival where they featured samples of their upcoming shows including three songs from the Zaturnnah musical. I wasn't able to go because I slept all day. But Paolo Manalo caught it and tells a bit about the experience in his blog. I'll be attending the dress-tech next week upon request of Tanghalang Pilipino.

Gawd, this whole thing hasn't quite sunk in yet.


Character malfunction said...

Hey, I was just surfing through the net and I stumbled upon your blog. Congratulations on "Ze Musical" and best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Hey Carl! Get used to it. You'd be an instant celebrity once Zsa Zsa zsa-shings her way to the stage. I am so proud of you, pare! Can't wait to see the musicale! Congrats!!!

Reia said...

bro!!! i'm hyperventilating now!!!!

zee said...

sayang di kita nakikita.( i work for CCP for my OJT. i'm there everyday! hehehe)

i have always been tempted to watch rehersals kaya lang closed set yata. my friends work for the prod, so they're lucky enough to peek once in a while.

sorry, i'm on my fangirly girl mode! hahaha!

i love ZsaZsa eh.

anyway, my bosses at CCP calls me ZsaZsa. (my real name's Zshalimar) :) i don't mind at all! haha

Carver said...

character malfunction...thank you!! :)

mark...get used to it??? happy na ako na it's coming to life. Basta bayaran ako...heheheh

Ateng...Huwag kang mag-hyperventilate, letse!! Heheheheh

Zee...OJT ka? Talaga? Siguro naman puede kang pasilipin paminsan-minsan. Wala sigurong masama sa paninilip. Heheh. Zalamat!


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