Monday, December 15, 2008

The Brilliance of 'Atang'

I've never had a strong interest for kundiman or the sarsuela, so I watched Dulaang UP's Atang just for the performances. But when my tears started to fall during the latter part of the second act, I knew this was one for the blog. I don't remember the time when a stage production moved me so much to the point of a hangover.

Directed by Alex Cortez with script by Floy Quintos and music by Von de Guzman, Atang is a story of love, sacrifice, artistic integrity, and finding one's place in the world. Young film actress Guia Almonte interviews the venerable Atang de la Rama in the latter's Tondo home. Since Guia had been given the chance to play the title role in an Atang biofilm, what better way to do research than to talk to the "Queen of Kundiman" herself? During the course of the musical, we not only celebrate the triumphs of Atang as an entertainment superstar during pre-War Philippines, we also learn of the hardships she endured during her marriage to writer/journalist/activist Amado Hernandez.

What really impressed me about Atang was its honesty, lack of pretense, and refusal to deify the subject. Poignant and insightful but highly entertaining, this is the kind of "commercial theater" I want to see more of. Even though Dulaang UP will restage this musical event in January, it should bring this show out of Diliman!

(And I must say that I love the logo.)

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