Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Carlo Vergara's

Ze Muzikal Review

I saw the matinee show on the last day of the musical's run and I think that's one of the best times to watch it because everybody's got their act down pat, and all the kinks have been worked out. I didn't want to write about it right away because having completely enjoyed myself, I just might end up with a totally non-objective gushing review.

Several days later, after giving myself some distance from the experience, I recognize the fact that I can't help but give a totally non-objective gushing review. Sorry.

I'm a huge fan of the comic book and I had concerns about how they were going to translate the fantastic elements of the story such as the Ada's transformation to ZsaZsa, the giant frog, the flying Amazonistas, and all the fight scenes. Upon entering CCP's Tanghalang Huseng Batute, I was rather shocked to see how small the theater was. The upper gallery aside, the seats next to the stage could not have accomodated more than 100 people. Our seats, thanks to Carlo, were right next to the stage. I mean, the stage is literally just a few inches from me and several times during the musical I could have just raised my hand without standing and I would have touched Eula Valdes. (Oh my God!)

But how were they going to do the flying scenes? I didn't see any wires or any stuff like that. Where was the giant frog? How can all that action happen in such a small space? That was what I was thinking about just a few minutes before the show started.

The next three hours would be some of the most enjoyable I would ever have in my life! To use an increasingly overused phrase...It was AWESOME!

Up until now I have difficulty thinking of what to write that would give the show justice, but I will try.

Essentially, I was really amazed at how faithful the musical was to the comic book. Most of the dialogue was lifted directly or slightly modified from dialogue from the comics. The music and dancing came in to flesh out certain scenes and issues that complemented the story rather than distract from it. In fact, the music was so appropriate to the tone of the story that it felt like it belonged there all along, and even elevated the story to a totally different plane.

Taking a cue from some of the comic book's quirkiness and campiness, the musical applied it to solve the many technical difficulties of translating it to stage. I thought that the solutions to the giant frog and the flying would have appeared ridiculous on paper, but the execution was so clever that I could not possibly fault it. I found myself laughing in appreciation at seeing the frog, how he terrorizes the people, how he swallowed ZsaZsa and how ZsaZsa fought to burst out. It was brilliant! I would never have thought it could be done that way. I'm amazed at how they were able to use what little space and equipment they had to pull off the fantastic parts of the story. If I'm not being too specific, then please take that to mean that I just don't want to spoil your fun. Although the musical's run is over, I find it impossible that it won't be staged again after the surprisingly enthusiastic response and patronage to it.

The size of the venue made the setting much more intimate and the experience much more immediate and real. You felt like you were part of the show and the players your gang of friends.

Eula Valdes as ZSAZSA was terrific! She's as beautiful as ever, and sexier now than she ever was. I thought wow, she can sing, and she's so game and didn't hold anything back. She took on the role and just devoured it completely. You can tell she was having fun.

The rest of the cast were all impossibly talented from Ada right up to all the CCP Tanghalan players. Other players that stood out to me included Deeda Baretto as Amazonista Vilma S. (Ang galing nya kumanta!), Wilma Doesnt as Amazonista Dina B. (nakakatawa sya ha), Kalila Aguilos as Queen Famina (I didn't catch Agot in the role but Kalila filled it excellently), Catherine Racsag and Red Nuestro as various characters, and Bong Cabrera as various characters including Ada's dead zombie father. (Ang galing mo pre!).

However, the star of the show was really DIDI, played hilaroously and outrageously by Ricci Chan. Shamelessly funny and witty, he literally stole the show. I'm an instant fan!

Kudos to Vince de Jesus, composer, lyricist and musical director. You have created something great, and I would love to buy a copy of the soundtrack. Sayang naubusan ako!!

Kudos to everybody who worked on making this show possible, and if new shows are scheduled, you can count on me to watch as many of them as I can!

If it isn't obvious yet, I just loved it. I love the music, I love the acting, the dancing, the writing, the clever solutions to technical problems, literally everything about it. And not a mistake in the entire production that I can see. I was literally in tears towards the end. And I felt bad for those people who wanted to see it but couldn't. Sayang. Everybody who wants a little light in their world right now really needs to see it.

And stalker that I am, I enjoyed the show so much that I tracked down as much of the cast as I could online and wrote them fan letters. Sana wag silang matakot. he.he.

Carlo was there to watch it (his ninth show, I think), and I was observing him from time to time. You can tell how much he was feeling what was going on. I had spoken to him before the show started, and he was still a little shocked, and a little unbelieving of the attention and acclaim his comic book has had, and really didn't know how to react himself. But I think he's incredibly proud to see his creation so well represented on the stage. And I'm very happy and proud for him because of that.