17 years since its debut and 11 years after its last staging, Zsazsa Zaturnnah the Musical is back for its much-awaited return. This latest incarnation by Ateneo Blue Repertory of the iconic musical comedy based on the graphic novel by Carlo Vergara with music by Vincent A. DeJesus is again making waves (hot curls, rather) at the Doreen Blackbox, Areté Theater. We caught the Zsazsa Zaturnnah ‘Yun Lang Press Night last March 16 and listed down some Victoria (winning) moments of the show:
Award-winning Music – at the heart of the show is the witty, heartfelt, and singable songs of award-winning composer Vincent A. DeJesus. Some of the lines that are living rent-free in our brains: “tingnan mo at babae na ako! May biglang dal’wang tumubo dito sa dibdib ko! Kurutin mo ‘ko ito ba ay totoo? (From “Babae Na Ako”) and “Dahil kahit nung siya’y nabubuhay pa… Malamig na ang puso niya (from “Multo ng Nakaraan”). De Jesus gave all the songs a new arrangement for this run while maintaining the raise-the-roof gospel flair. He also added a new song specifically for Aling Britney (Lucky you, Kyla Rivera-Soong).
Energetic Ensemble – The show, masterfully directed by Missy Maramara is not easy. Because of its campy nature, you need a strong support cast to set the atmosphere, help land the punchlines, and move the story forward through song. The chorus composed of the BlueRep Ensemble was all-out and committed in all their scenes, changing from character to character and providing a vehicle for the roller coaster of emotions that is about to come. Special mention goes out to Danielle Nicola Tan who provides the soaring descant notes (also playing Vilma S.), and Fred Layno who opens Act II with vocal stylings that can make John Legend shake.
Stunning Set – Tata Tuviera made very smart use of the venue’s small space. It was able to fit an entire multi-level neighborhood that gave an immersive experience for the audience (especially if you are sitting in the mosh pit). You become part of the action and you can feel the brewing excitement, tension, and tenderness in the scenes. It was so immersive that Josh Cabiladas, one of the Didis in a separate performance, literally swan dove and became part of the audience. Luckily, he was able to incorporate the whole accident in his ad-libs which made everyone break out into their funny bones without any resulting fractures.
Fabulously Different Femina – If you’ve seen the previous stagings of the musical, Kakki Teodoro breaks the mold of Queen Femina because the fierce and sexy feminism oozes from within her. The role is a complete workout, especially in the second act and Teodoro sings all her narratives with crisp strength and clarity. In a scene meltdown, she freestyles lines referencing pop culture and makes the audiences laugh. Sadly, this is not true for her Amazonista minions whose dated character-based antics fell flat on most of the kids’ ears.
Didi-licious notes – Apart from skill for comedy, the role of Didi requires vocal affectations that go through the curling iron. This may be Almond Bolante‘s theater debut but his decade-worth of experience with Acapellago made it easy for him to generously dish out original and goosebumps-inducing riffs. His pipes are a welcome addition to local theater-dom, and given the ample training, his acting chomps will make his senior Didis very proud.
The Ada Feels – Phi Palmos’ Ada moves you from plane to plane. His character’s journey from the simple beautician scarred from failed relationships to an emotionally charged gay in disbelief of an unexpected proposition from Dodong played by Juan Carlos Galano, will break your core. In an interview with PalabasTayo, Palmos said that a lot of us are like Adas who have become jaded but once love finds its way into your life, you take the chance and let it take over.
Zaturnnah’s Real Super Power – Kim Molina is the hot transformation from Ada to the full vavavoom superwoman Zsazsa. Her interpretation is definitely not mere Viva-Max-boob-work (although watch out for a scene poking fun at this). This award-winning singer-actress is powered by her WYCOPA vocals. She comfortably shifts from the crass jologs who can make you chuckle, to a soulful diva belting out notes and emotions that easily trigger a river of poignant tears for both herself and the audience. Molina is not afraid to distort her face or be weary of snot pooling in her nose in her soliloquies or in support of a scene partner. Brava! Brava! Brava!
Zsazsa Zaturnnah the Musical… ‘Yun Lang! runs until April 2 but the shows are completely sold out. That’s another indication of Zaturnnah’s Victoria-winner-tagumpay streak so pray that it does a rerun at a much bigger venue so more can experience its fabulosity.