33 Variations by Red Turnip Theater opened on July 24 and will run on weekends until August 23 at Whitespace, Makati. But as member of the media, we got the special privilege of watching it ahead of everyone else.
As always, I arrived ahead of everyone else too on the press preview night. I'm always the punctual blogger who would normally arrive an hour or more before the call time. Why? Because I hate coming in late and missing what happened at the start of every event. It's better to be early to avoid sudden traffic congestion or whatever unavoidable circumstances. There's also always something to look forward to when you come on time or earlier. Just as there are other rare opportunities when you leave last. May it be an opportunity to get an exclusive interview or to see how the stage is set before the start of the show.
I felt it was highly essential for me to watch this press preview because this will be the first time I will be watching a play from Red Turnip Theater. I always miss out on the opportunity due to so many obligations that I would just often assign correspondents to take my place. I would patronize theater shows more than mainstream movies because I believe it is at the theater where you would meet the real actors. The discipline involved in theater is so very different from the other. This makes it really a privilege to be invited to witness the performers as they do their thing live on stage. No take twos, ad-lib to keep the flow, work on each others' strengths, impress the audience with the passionate words and expressions, and the only special effects you'll get are from the lights and sounds, everything else is pure power of emotions from the theater actors and how they use the set to their advantage.
There is also something so sensitive to discuss that really raised my curiosity. I think everyone else was also curious if the performances would go on smoothly as planned eve after what happened to teh daughter of Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino. At first I thought it was evident that the suffering was there, but a few minutes later I realized it was part of the act. I never really read any background about the play to keep my mind from comparing the play with what I've read. As the story progressed, it was also excruciating to see the story somewhat too close to home for one of the performers. But the mere fact that she pulled it off with flying colors is a testament to her professionalism. She deserves a loud applause and all our compliments and admiration.
The rest of the performers were stunning. Though the first part of the play was a bit slow in pace, the second part proved to be more powerful. If only they allowed the taking of photos and videos, I could have shared to you all the remarkable images of the performers and how heartfelt their acts were. It is such a shame I could not share to you the same experience I felt. But of course the only way to experience it for yourself is to watch it personally.
The live playing of the 33 Variations by an actual pianist on stage was superbly done. It was especially wonderful for them to make Ejay Yatco portray the younger Beethoven. He was not only playing the piano, he was dramatically acting as well. Apparently, it was not only his fingers who were co-stars of the show.
When the acts seemingly merged as one on stage, those were the most traumatic highlights of the show. I loved how they do it so seamlessly. True enough, it was out of the conventional and not the traditional straightforward story. It was more complicated than flashbacks. It was like seeing several channels but only in one screen. As if we traveled through time and space as we watch events happening to different people at different times.
The story also had a romantic episode between two young actors. I remembered asking Ina Fabregas about those intimate kisses with Franco Chan, who already left ahead after the show. Ina has nothing but good words for Franco whom she said was very professional gentleman.
Anton Diabelli performed by Paolo O'Hara was almost stealing the show for his lavish costume and strong voice and acting. Rem Zamora playing the other Anton (Schindler), outshines his master Ludwig Van Beethoven played by Teroy Guzman, in a supporting role but it looked more like he was a main character as essential as the Alfred of the Batman. I loved the performance of Beethoven here and Teroy definitely looks and sounds perfect for the part. Roselyn Perez might become typecasted for playing another doctor role after The Normal Heart, but it seems they would always cast her for the intellectual roles probably because she talks like an authority that you can trust.
Overall, this play is a must-not-miss. It was awesome to listen to every line spoken and how they were able to effectively make all the scenes thought-provoking. I would like to say kudos to the director Jenny Jamora, as well as the other founders, for another successful play under Red Turnip Theater.