Manna

This quarantine life has its pros and cons. 

But as an optimist, I would rather dwell on its pros which I could gain from this new normal. Overshadowed by cons these benefits may be, I would still consider myself lucky. Why? In the course of this pandemic, I have already watched three musicals at zero cost!
I know most of the theatre aficionados are aware of the devastating impact of covid-19 pandemic on the performing arts. In spite of the setbacks, producers have decided to bring these musicals to our home for free. Evidently, this is a selfless act of love and kindness to us fans in quarantine. 
April 17-18, The Phantom of the Opera‘s 25th anniversary performance at the Royal Albert Hall was streamed live for 48 hours with a fundraising element. 
I was one of those who watched this Andrew Lloyd Webber’s longest running musical in the comfort of our home. A different production, it gave me déjà vu. I believe that every musical, live or filmed on stage, should be watched (in my case repeatedly!) and cherished. 
May  9, the well-acclaimed local musical Ang Huling El Bimbo saved me from taking a weight-inducing catnap in the afternoon. This production adapted the 48-hour streaming and fundraising idea of The Phantom. Shared by my eldest son’s girlfriend Bianca, AHEB re-exposed me to Philippine musical after Ang Larawan the Musical at CCP (Cultural Center of the Philippines) in 1997. Watching it showed me the theater innovations which I expected had given our country’s theatrical performances a makeover. Without bias, I will acknowledge the higher level of modernization in this musical play. 
July 18, a sung-and-rapped-through musical, Hamilton, made me appreciate a genre of music which my sense of hearing used to repel from.
Thanks to Angelica Tan’s generous friend, I got to keep my personal file and set an intimate evening date with THE genius Lin-Manuel Miranda, whom I’ve fallen in love at first sight (and sound!) in 22 Musicals in 12 Minutes.
Minus the shared file from Disney Plus, I don’t know when I’d be able to watch Hamilton for free and certify for the umpy-umpth time that Miranda is a legend at the age of 40. Being the very first actor who acted on a musical where he wrote the script, lyrics and book, Miranda had me silently gushing from his first entrance on the stage.
Based on a real historical event, Hamilton would be challenging to understand without a background in American history. Prior to my viewing it, I had to read the synopsis so I wouldn’t struggle in grasping its storyline. With the information I got from googling, I could now identify the characters in the musical and the conflict which existed between and among them. 
Hamilton tackled sensitive historical, cultural, social, and political issues which prevailed during the 18th century and even up to the current time. The musical gave me a range of feelings while learning about the rise and fall of Alexander Hamilton who was an immigrant in the “land of the free,” yet became the Founding Father of the United States of America.
I’m not doing an in-depth review of this musical, but I shouldn’t miss telling you how I adored the costume design, stage lighting, and choreography. 
Another period musical just like Les Misérables, the stage attire breathed life to the “century of reason.” I don’t know how to describe the kind of costume worn by the cast, nevertheless I love the contrasting colors of their outfits. The ensemble looked fabulous together even when they were just wearing their cream-colored underwear. Now, I did like the stage lighting manipulation which resulted to the desired effect on each scene; however, curiosity tells me to ask whether I would be seeing similar incredible lighting had I watched it live. Choreography was one of the most captivating aspects of this musical. The dancers’ vigorous movements hypnotized me. I could feel their energy coursing through me making me feel as if I were dancing with them! The slow motion during Burr and Hamilton’s duel was a certified killer routine.

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I don’t possess an impeccable musical acuity, but good thing, I am not tone-deaf. Hahaha…I couldn’t really tell if all the cast members had vocal superiority. Perhaps, rapping doesn’t demand to have this voice quality? 
Among the cast, I have my fave picks for their good voice and astounding performance. They are Leslie Odom, Jr. (Aaron Burr), Renée Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler), Jonathan Groff (King George), and Christopher Jackson (George Washington). Of course, Miranda shouldn’t be forgotten but speaking objectively, I prefer Odom’s voice than his.
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On the other hand, there’s no question about Miranda’s fiery magnetism in his delivery. Boy, he’s an amazing dancer too! 
Running for 2 hours and 45 minutes, Hamilton is the longest musical I’ve ever watched. Yet, there was no dragging part because of the hip-hop, rap, jazz, and R & B tunes. In fact the catchy beat of Alexander Hamilton, My Shot, Schuyler Sisters, and The Room Where It Happens got stuck in my head for quite sometime now. This unconventional blend of musical theater and these tunes was no doubt the x-factor in Hamilton, making this sensationalaward winning, and favored in the Obama household
Incontestably, The Phantom of the Opera, Ang Huling El Bimbo, and Hamilton are unforeseen manna from heaven which brought enormous happiness and consolation to my quarantined life.

So, thank you! Thank you very much to these compassionate producers who made these musicals free for viewing to brighten our seemingly dark days this global pandemic. 

Photo Credit

http://theaterfansmanila.com/

21 thoughts on “Manna

  1. No musicals is one of the most disappointing and frustrating things about this pandemic. Anastasia and Frozen were coming to Charlotte’s Blumenthal Performing Arts, but both got postponed. Now here’s for hoping for Hadestown- October 2021.

    However, so thankful for musical movies and typed live performances. I own some of the live performances: The Final Broadway Cast Rent Film, The Phantom of the Opera 25th special, and the 10th and 25th concerts of Les Mis. Of course there are the musical movies: Les Mis, Annie (1982), Singing in the Rain, Beauty and the Beast (2017), and Aladdin (2019) are part of my musical movie collection.

    Blumenthal promised Charlotte they will return. Belk and Ovens are the main theaters that host Broadway Tours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, there! Thank you for sharing your honest feelings toward the cancellation of these musicals. I would feel the same way especially if it were a dream musical and I already had the ticket.

      Wow! I’m impressed with your collection. You’re a musical junkie. I’m delighted to virtually meet a kindred fan. Here in the Philippines we seldom have the pleasure of watching the international productions of these award-winning musicals. That’s the reason why I’m grateful for the free streaming.

      Appreciate your dropping a note. Let’s hope that everything gets back to normal so you can again watch live. 🙂

      Like

      1. Now, I know where the disappointment and frustration are coming from. It would be exciting to see Frozen The Musical after watching the movie. I wonder how they’d do the staircase made of ice on the stage. 🙂

        Watching Wicked four times???? Oh, gee!

        Like

      2. Crazily enough, I have seen Les Mis every other year: 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. One community college production, West End, and the US Tour twice.

        I actually saw Lea Salonga in both of those roles. I saw both the 10th/25th concert. I actually think she was a better Eponine than Fantine.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Looks like you have a regular “date” with Les Miz. That’s wonderful!

        I was able to watch only the taped show of the 10th concert. For the 25th I just searched the scattered performances in YT. I agree with you. I also like her as Eponine. 😊

        Like

      4. Well, that was a timing thing.

        2013- I was still a student at Central Piedmont Community College. That was seen three times due to ushering.

        2015- The Bristol Pilgrimage happened this year, which happened in London. My family went up two days early, and I was able to see Les Mis

        2017/2019- both were part of the US Tour

        Liked by 1 person

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