Before you read this review, get your Himala, Isang Musikal tickets first before it’s too late. [Update: Tickets are all sold-out]. Believe me and all the reviews, just this once, this is a must-watch. You have to see this musical. It’s the best Filipino musical I’ve ever seen and it could very well become your favorite too.
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Ang bawat tao ay pugad ng himala. 🎶 Himala: Isang Musikal opens today and runs every weekend until March 4. Amazing performances from some of the best artists in the country, just their raw vocals, no microphones. Witness, and be immersed in, the story of Elsa and the town of Cupang like never before. A must-watch! 👏👏👏 #Sandbox9WTHimala
Director Ed Lacson Jr. was dead serious when he said that The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical‘s iteration of Himala would be an immersive experience. His vision is clear and specific to the very last detail. A friend who watched the show with me even wished that he had the director’s mind transplanted to his. Who wouldn’t, after witnessing the miracle that is Himala?
He took advantage of the rawness of all the elements in a production. Even though it looked like a stripped back production, every element was used to its full advantage. The unconventional layout of the venue brought maximum experience to each seat in the house. Each seat offers a different perspective, a different immersive experience. The impact would have been different otherwise.
A Truly Immersive Experience
The immersive experience begins the minute you walk through the entrance doors. The whole space is bathed in only warm, yellow lights. I didn’t expect it at first, but I guess it helped in eliciting a feeling of nostalgia, harking back to the time and setting of the musical.
The first scene made my heart jump. As the first actor entered my line of sight, I was immediately transported to the town of Cupang. While watching, I didn’t feel like just an audience member. I felt like I was one of the townsfolk, eavesdropping on my neighbors. I was listening to both sides of the Elsa debate: those who believed in her miracles and those who dismissed her antics as mere quackery. I could hear their whispers. The background dialogue of the characters near me. Every note sung. Every rest. Their individual voices inside those beautiful harmonies.
This is what I loved the most about Himala (aside from the obvious, of course). Because there were no mic lapels, you can hear the parts and the sum of the parts at the same time. If you focus on a character, you would know what he/she individually contributes to the number. This makes the musical numbers even more powerful. Nakakakilabot. Ang ganda. Ang galing.
Brilliant Performances, Pure Talent
Ed Lacson, Jr. mentioned during the press conference that the each cast member was essential to the musical. Walang extra. Lahat importante. And it showed. Everyone was so good considering they were a cast of over 30 people.
Aicelle Santos also kept saying that she was still looking for the “Elsa” in her. Well, she definitely found Elsa and made the character her own. Aicelle’s performance was so pure that I can’t find enough words to describe it. Himala would be a good send-off for Aicelle before she flies to the UK for Miss Saigon. That last scene would make the West End cry harder than they cried for Kim’s death.
Bituin Escalante was brilliant as always. Bituin can modulate. With minimal effort, she could be heard from all parts of the room. Sandino Martin and Neomi Gonzales also gave heartfelt performances as Pilo and Chayong.
I also wanted to note Kakki Teodoro’s performance. Nadala ako sa bawat eksena niya. Especially in the scene where she heard something happened to Elsa and Chayong, I felt her panic. It was so natural. Even if she didn’t have lines and amidst the unruly crowd, my eyes ran to her and her reaction crushed my heart.
Renewed Love for Theatre
After watching, my friend and I just sat there. I didn’t have the strength to clap. I clapped and I stood up but I felt that the applause the room was making wasn’t enough. I have to admit: in the last two years, I watched a few original Pinoy theater productions that left me feeling a bit disappointed. Himala reminds us that the Philippines can create original and innovative musicals. That we can set our own standard and identity in the local theater industry. That we don’t need to rely solely on witty jokes or one-liners. We just need a good story, good music and a cast of beautiful talented artists.
Ricky Lee and Vincent DeJesus’ Himala: Isang Musikal will be showing at the Power MAC Center Spotlight, Circuit Makati from February 10 to March 4, 2018. For inquiries and tickets, contact 0917.5545560, 586.7105, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ticketworld at 891.9999.