“Three friends from an exclusive boys’ high school now in their senior years have gotten together to form a band for their Golden Anniversary Homecoming.” This was the opening sentence of the synopsis for a new musical by Jack Teotico (music and lyrics) and  Palanca-awardee Joshua Lim So (book and lyrics). In this tale of friendship and nostalgia, Lim So explores the lives of these three friends, finding a silver lining in the midst of rekindled connections and troubled reminiscences.

Reading the synopsis, I was admittedly skeptical about the story. It honestly sounded elitist—like only a few people would be able to relate to it. As the show unfolded, I realized I was right to be so.

The story was quite difficult to resonate with—unless you’re someone from an exclusive boys’ high school in your senior year and about to attend your school’s homecoming with your friends. Or maybe unless you’re a Gen Z with parents who find it hard to understand mental health problems (but even if you were, you’d hardly be able to relate to the play unless your parents are from an exclusive high school in their senior year and about to attend their school’s homecoming with their friends). In short: the story might be out of touch for most.  

Ricky Davao and Shaun Ocrisma providing light on the Sliver Lining stage

However, this isn’t to say that the play didn’t have its “silver linings”.

Ricky Davao delivered a standout portrayal as Leo, one of the play’s protagonists. Even amidst audio challenges, Ricky’s commanding stage presence is proof that he’s an acting veteran captivating the audience’s attention and establishing a powerful presence throughout the show.

Shaun Ocrisma also delivered a remarkable performance, demonstrating flawless and impeccable comedic timing. Disobeying doctor’s orders due to pulled hamstrings, his exceptional control and body awareness deserve quite an approving nod.

Additionally, PJ Rebullida’s choreography brilliantly shined through the actors and scenes. With steps and sequences reminiscent of Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett, movement and emotions were masterfully conveyed.

The storytelling was also something to be admired. Maribel Legarda’s side-by-side play between past and present, through the actors and the acting actors (or their “youth” counterparts), was really interesting. The fact that the story was well understood seamlessly through this, can be attributed to her magic as seen in her previous shows including “A Game of Trolls” and “Rak of Aegis”.

Silver Lining actually had very good intentions, which can be seen through its themes on martial law and generational struggles. In a society rife with historical distortion, one message they clearly wanted to portray was the importance of truth and history. All other messages they wanted to portray, such as youth empowerment, activism, mental health, etc. are all well and good, but Silver Lining suffered from having way too many messages that they wanted to tell. The result: a cluttered musical. There was just too much happening.

One more striking aspect of the play was its heavy reliance on exposition to convey crucial plot points. Rather than using actions or imagery to convey emotions, ideas, and information, the musical predominantly resorted to narration. This approach contributed to a sense that the production was somewhat challenging to connect with. In storytelling, a fundamental guideline is “show, don’t tell,” but regrettably, Silver Lining leaned heavily toward the “telling” side of storytelling.

Overall, the show has good potential. Sadly, but honestly, that’s pretty much all that it is. The ideas were there, the messages were there, and the lessons were there; but overall, it seemed like preaching paired with song and dance. At worst, it simply felt like a student production with an expensive cast.

Nevertheless, in a world of entertainment often dominated by revivals and foreign material, it is refreshing to witness a production that champions original work. As a musical that is authentically unique and locally inspired, it is proof that our own stories have the promise to be as captivating and powerful as any imported tale. And that for me is a silver lining.

You may catch the show on its second weekend, October 27-29 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, 4th Floor RCBC Plaza in Makati City. Tickets are available on Ticket2Me.net.

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