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Bea Alonzo, Jericho Rosales & Other Artists Shine in Contra Mundum: Ang Larawan All-Star Concert

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Theater enthusiasts and casual audiences alike were excited in the few weeks leading to Contra Mundum, which was held at the Metropolitan Theater last May 6. The reason’s due to the early reports that Bea Alonzo and Jericho Rosales are making their musical theater debut.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

Ang Larawan is a classic Filipino play originally written in English by the National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin, as A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, in 1949. It was a 200-page manuscript which was first released in parts for the Weekly Women’s Magazine. The reader’s clamor for it led to the four-hour material eventually being staged on May 25, 1953 at the DZPI radio station, where it was shortened to just two-and-a-half hours.

Produced by NCCA, Metropolitan Theater, and Culturtain, Contra Mundum brings together old and new talents together for the concert vertion of this 7 decades old material. 

Here are the 7 shining moments in Contra Mundum:

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

1. Aicelle Santos’ high notes which defied gravity

Essaying the role of Candida Marasigan in Act 2, this Miss Saigon and Rak of Aegis alum brought the house down with her very moving and powerful rendition of her solo in “Nakinig Kami sa Inyo Noon.” Out of all the performers, she shone the brightest and her blending with Karylle who played Paula Marasigan in Act 2 was perfect.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

2. Bea Alonzo’s playful Conga

Bea plays the role of Elsa Montero, whose solo in Act 2 was part of the musical number “Inspirasyon” as a whole. The Start Up actress obviously pegged Zsa Zsa Padilla, who essayed the role in Ang Larawan movie. The original title of her number in the movie’s official soundtrack is “Conga.”

Clad in a single-strapped semi-halter blue silk dress, she gave a playful rendition of the number and proved that she can indeed sing, given the proper rehearsal and training.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

3. Kakai Bautista and Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante as flirty and perky vaudeville actresses

They say there are no small roles, only small actors. Kakai and Mikkie are two of Philippine theater’s performers who are god tier level, that is why it’s not surprising that they can make unimpressionable roles very impressionable. They twirled and teased with ease as Violet and Susan in Acts 1 and 3, and made hitting notes in the sixth octave seem like a child’s play.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

4. Celeste Legaspi’s timeless talent

This is the Mamang Sorbetero singer’s fourth time playing Candida, with her first performance as part of of Tanghalang Pilipino’s staging in 1993. She is the co-executive producer of the movie version as well as this concert.Her glam is as timeless as her talent, because she’s actually unrecognizable onstage. The 73-year-old looks like 50 years old and below onstage as she sings with Agot Isidro plays Paula in Act 1.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

5. Ricky Davao’s strong stage presence

Aside from being an actor-director, mostly for TV, only a limited number of people know that Ricky’s stage outings almost always were lauded. His last memorable performance was for Palasyo in Valentin, also set in a pre-World War 2 era, and directed by none other than Nonon Padilla, who actually was Ricky’s director when he played Tony Javier in the 1989 staging of Larawan.

He’s perfect for Act 1 where Tony get’s highlighted as somewhat of a vagabond, a boarder of the Marasigan’s who’d casually break their rule of bringing women and wine inside the house.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

6. Jericho Rosales’ Electrifying Chemistry with Karylle

“Kinikilig ako grabe. Bagay sila, infernes. May chemistry sila. Please, more plays pa with Karylle and Echo,” said a commenter on Youtube after watching the two Kapamilya stars’ Ikinalulungkot Ko, Miss Paula musical number.

Jericho’s Tony in Act 2 is handsome, dashing, and definitely someone your mother warned you about. This is in contrast to Karylle’s meek Paula, with her eyes looking down or darting about nervously, voice fumbling for words.

Being a first timer in musical theater, Jericho’s shaky notes are unnoticeable for the untrained ear. In fact, unless you rewatch the recording, you wouldn’t notice it at first, given his vocal quality that is actually well-suited to antihero protagonists like Jean Valjean of Les Miserables.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

7. Bituin Escalante’s Pain Translated with Ease

Act 3 is the most painful part for the 3 main characters, and more so for Bituin’s character Candida, a spinster trying to keep it all together amidst all the questions about the missing portrait.

Bituin is instrumental for setting the tone of Act 3, with her opening rendition of Ang Amoy ng Piyesta brimming with sadness and strength.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

Apart from the abovementioned thespians, here are other actors and actresses who were part of the star-studded Contra Mundum concert of Ang Larawan: Hajji Alejandro as Don Perico; Rachel Alejandro as Paula Marasigan (Act 3); Paulo Avelino as Tony Javier (Act 3); Nonie Buencamino as Manolo Marasigan; Roeder Camañag as Bitoy Camacho (Act 1); Dulce as Doña Upeng; Jaime Fabregas as Don Aristeo; Nonoy Froilan as Don Lorenzo Marasigan; Audie Gemora as Don Miguel; Nanette Inventor as Doña Irene; Jojit Lorenzo as Pulis Bernal; Sandino Martin as Bitoy Camacho (Act 3); Bodjie Pascua as Don Alvaro; Markki Stroem as Charlie Dacanay; Kakki Teodoro as Patsy; Mitch Valdes as Doña Loleng; Nyoy Volante as Pulis Tinio; and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Pepang Marasigan.

There were many pillars of the Philippine arts and vulture among the audience and celebrities as well, like Janine Gutierrez, Morissette Amon, Dominic Roque, Buboy Villar, Jelai Andres, Edgar Allan Guzman, National Artist for Film Kidlat Tahimik, National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes, etc.

*Cover Photo/Thumbnail Photo from Buzz Beat Media

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