A new stage for the performing arts
There is a new theater for the performing arts in Metro Manila. Located at Circuit Makati, the Samsung Performing Arts Theater is a 1,500-seat venue that launched on July 14. This is a truly impressive theatre, built to the latest international specifications and with plenty of facilities for the performers on stage and the audience, which we’ve not seen in local theaters to date. But more than all those physical attributes, it’s what this theater represents, in a post-pandemic Philippines, that made so much excitement to attend the launch party.
If for us, the audience, it was an exciting bugle call that the live show would once again be part of our cultural program, imagine how the performers felt on stage. Whether you are a theater actor, ballet dancer, musical theater or opera singer, conductor and/or musician or stagehand, the past two and a half years have been a painful and lonely journey of abstinence and frustration. . You spend years honing your craft, and all of a sudden from Covid you’re forced to go online and give up the immediacy of performing live, interacting with an audience and just feeling like your dreams and your aspirations come true.
Almost everyone in the performing arts community was there that evening, July 14, excited to see what theater was all about and the possibilities it could offer to each of their respective disciplines. I spotted National Artist Alice Reyes, Irene Marcos-Araneta and Alex Cortez, Mindy Perez-Rubio, Joy Virata and Liesl Batucan-del Rosario, Anton Juan, Robbie Guevara and Audie Gemora, to name a few- one.
To show just how far Ayala Land is taking this revival of live entertainment and culture through the theater launch, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, President and CEO of Ayala Corporation, took to the stage to welcome us to the theater. . And when he mentioned his sister Sofia Zobel-Elizalde, and that she’s the real cheerleader behind this project, it drew wild applause and cheers – so he joked that she obviously had some many friends present that evening. Both formal and intimate, his welcoming remarks set the stage for the presentation of a stage show, titled “Welcome Home”, which then followed.
Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Bituin Escalante and Sheila Valderrama-Martinez opened the number with drama and aplomb. And my personal highlights would include snippets from the upcoming musical.”Mula Sa Buwanand Rachelle Gerodias-Park with her uncredited husband singing from the audience, which initially made us scratch our heads wondering where her disembodied voice came from. And the excerpt from “Casse-Noisette” interpreted by the Steps Dance Studio accompanied them by the Mandaluyong Children’s Choir.
“Mula Sa Buwanis an adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac de Rostand but transposed to Manila in the 1940s. It was a success during the pre-pandemic Ateneo and is now part of the festivities surrounding our 75th anniversary of Franco-Philippine friendship. It will have its “new” 2022 opening night at the Samsung Theater on August 26. For those who haven’t watched this musical yet, take note of this must-see ride.
During “Welcome Home,” we were repeatedly reminded of how great it was for the return of the live show and the various merits of the new venue. While at times it felt like a “Please curb your enthusiasm” scenario, this repetition could easily be forgiven, as this really is the start of a new chapter in the performance, and the folks behind the theater are obviously excited. Built during the pandemic, I can imagine how there were days when they wondered when the theater would even open, or there were crowds of people seated in public. Seeing it come to fruition will no doubt be a happy relief, and something they will be shouting at the top.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
CLICK HERE TO JOIN