I was having super-mixed emotions last night.

On one hand, I was ecstatic. The dream that I’ve had since I was a teenager finally came true: I got to see my all-time favorite musical Les Misérables in the flesh. :arrow:

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Ever since Les Miz was staged by Repertory Philippines way back in the 90s and I missed it (mainly because I was still a student at the time), I swore to myself that if ever it will be re-staged here, I wouldn’t dare miss it for the world. Or, if I get the chance to go to New York and/or London, it’s definitely going to be on top of my itinerary. But since the last option has become nearly impossible (actually, it’s possible; I just couldn’t afford it hahaha), I just had to wait for it to be done again in Manila.

Two decades plus after, here it is. And it’s not a local production.

So how was it? Well, for starters: at the last note of One Day More, I burst into tears. :cry:

Rachelle Ann Go as Fantine is AMAZING. :clap: Her voice has improved by leaps and bounds, although that certain ‘thing’ (vocal inflection) she does is still there. Her acting is solid, as well. I got goosebumps and teary eyes at Fantine’s death scene (this is not a spoiler).

Simon Gleeson as Jean Valjean definitely did not disappoint. My peg for Valjean has always been Colm Wilkinson, and my gauge is if the actor playing Valjean would be able to nail the soft parts of Bring Him Home. On that part, Gleeson nailed it. :thumbup:

But the REAL star of Les Miz Manila for me is Earl Carpenter as Javert. :arrow: He makes me want to NOT watch the Les Miz movie again because I will cry when Russel Crowe shows up and murders Stars once again. Carpenter was just fabulous. Javert’s death scene (again, not a spoiler) got the most thunderous applause of the night apart from One Day More.

As for the disappointing parts: well, Marius and especially Cosette. :shutup: Marius may have suffered in comparison because my peg for that character is Michael Ball and to quote my friend Rizza’s FB comment, Michael Ball is just too high of a peg for Marius. I tried lowering it to Eddie Redmayne, or ok… Nick Jonas. :ehh: To be fair, Paul Wilkins’ take on Marius isn’t as bad as Nick Jonas’.

As for Emily Langridge as Cosette: she makes me want to watch Amanda Seyfried again. :ehh: Ok, maybe not. But close.

Kerrie Anne Greenland as Eponine is vocally good, but she lacks depth in the acting department. One of my most anticipated scenes in Les Miz is A Little Fall of Rain because I cried just listening to it when I got the OST decades ago. It was so flat and hurried at this show. Then again, my ultimate peg for this number is the version by THE Michael Ball and THE Lea Salonga. Who can top that???

Mssr. and Mmme. Thenardier: Mssr. was ok – his funny parts hit the mark – but Mmme. was, again, lacking for me because I got so used to Jenny Galloway nailing that part every time. Even Helena Bonham Carter does not hold a candle in comparison to Ms. Galloway.

Special mention goes to the kids: Cosette, Eponine and especially Gavroche. I wish I had kids as talented as these three.

Performances aside, the production aspect of this show is more than enough reason for anyone not to miss it. It’s so worth your money. The set design, lighting, props, choreography… my jaw dropped more than 10x in the entire duration of the nearly 3-hour show. It’s like watching people do random magic tricks while singing and acting. It’s THAT amazing.

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So yeah. Les Misérables Manila? Totally worth the six tickets I paid for. Even my sibs and the kids enjoyed it.

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And now, for the ‘bitter’ part:

I bought my tickets for Les Misérables last year. Therefore, the announcement that Alden Richards’ first solo concert will be on the same date as my Les Miz night was the single most depressing news I received in a long, long time.

I’m not bitter that I wasn’t there, per se. I’m bitter because I wasn’t able to cover this momentous event in Alden’s career. :sad: Also, I’m bitter that I did not personally witness him do this:

(Original video from ALDENatics Rizal. I just re-uploaded on YouTube because Twitter media embeds do not work on my blog platform.)

According to my fellow Alden INTL members who were there, Alden acknowledged our group three times last night. :whee!: I already saw two different instances on social media. Yes, it might sound too shallow (or lame, depending on who you’re talking with) because it’s just a mere mention (three times, in case you’ve missed it) but if you know how things were in the Alden fandom before Alden International was launched, you would know why we’re rejoicing over this.

Remember when I wrote this rant (masquerading as Random Thoughts) about the Alden fandom two months ago? To be perfectly honest, I never knew at the time that the day would come when everything that I pointed out on that blog entry will be addressed by Alden himself.

Alden knows more than one fan club now. :clap: He acknowledges everyone. In fact, he acknowledges everyone that he even thanks MAINE fan clubs, too. :hihihi:

Actually, last night was not the first instance that it happened. Remember this “history-making” incident that I wrote on the final paragraph of my previous blog entry but I cannot elaborate until after Holy Week? I was talking about Alden recognizing more than one fan club during a milestone in his career. We’ll have to wait until Easter Sunday before we can formally post the resibo but believe me, it was such a momentous experience that we couldn’t get over it even days after.

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One week ago…

In my opinion, a great concert should have at least one of these qualities:

1.  Exceptional singing/dancing/overall performance;
2.  Jaw-dropping production values;
3.  Oodles of fan service;
4.  The experience is sooo good, I either blog about it in exquisite detail, or I couldn’t find the exact words to accurately describe it.

Big Bang’s MADE in Manila concert has all four.

The concert was sooo freakin’ good that it took me more than a week before I finally was able to blog about it. Up until now I still can’t find the exact words to accurately describe the experience. In fact, the introductory part of this entry was written a week ago while on the commute to Manila to watch Rak of Aegis. It just came into my head and I had to write it down on my phone before memory gap takes over.

The rest of it, I’m currently struggling to write now.

Continue reading

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[Agent P’s Note: I should be blogging about Big Bang MADE in Manila first, but I decided to post this one instead because (1) I still need to sort, choose, resize and tag the photos from BB concert; (2) PH VIPs are still on #NaBigbangKa mode (check Twitter to know what it’s all about) and I don’t think they’re ready to reminisce about last Thursday’s concert just yet. Assuming anyone will bother to read it, that is. :P I’ll try to squeeze it in tonight, that is, if I still have time and energy to do things as I also have lots of stuff to do that has nothing to do with blogging.]

I have always wanted to watch Rak of Aegis since its first run. No, actually, it was my father who really, REALLY wanted to see Rak of Aegis since he first saw Aicelle Santos and Isay Alvarez promoting the play at a noontime show. However, we never really had the opportunity to check it out for whatever reason.

My friend Charity saw it last year when her company sponsored a show and she saw it a few times more after that. She highly recommended it to us. Unfortunately again, the shows got sold out pretty fast. So when production has announced that Rak of Aegis will have one last run, I had to make sure that I will see at least one show.

It was by stroke of luck that I saw Aegis – the band itself – mentioning on TV that they will be at the August 1 show, and Charity was able to score tickets for the already almost-sold out date. :rakenrol:

Unfortunately (this is turning out to be a fortunately/unfortunately type of blog entry :boinkself: ), Lou and I got stuck in super-horrible traffic yesterday. It took us almost three hours from her home in Mandaluyong to PETA Theater in New Manila. No, it’s actually more than three hours from Mandaluyong to Betty Go-Belmonte Ave. in Quezon City which still 1.3 kilometers away from PETA Theater. As we were stuck on the same spot near the corner of Balete Drive and E.Rodriguez Sr. Avenue for nearly 40 minutes and Charity, who was already at the venue, texted that the show has already started, we just decided to walk the rest of the way. Long story short, we missed the first 30 minutes of the play.

Fortunately (see? :glee: ), Charity said that we walked in just as the main highlight of the story is unfolding and we only basically missed the character introductions. We still thoroughly enjoyed the show even if we missed a chunk of it.

My random comments:

1. Pansin ko lang, parang bawal ang hindi mahusay kumanta sa show na ito? Everyone in the cast are excellent singers. As in you can’t even rank them, they’re all really good. Whenever I watch musicals or concerts I am very particular about singing in tune. None of them missed a note. :thumbup:

2. I have always loved Aicelle Santos, even way back her Pinoy Pop Superstar days. I love the rich tone of her voice and the fact that she’s always on key even while dancing, running around, climbing stairs, etc. This was actually what impressed a lot of people when she participated (and won) Eat Bulaga’s #AegisPaMore contest. Seeing her in Rak of Aegis cemented my admiration of her. She’s one of those female singers who can ‘birit’ without making me grit my teeth in annoyance.

3. I’ve been hearing a lot about Jerald Napoles as Tolits (mainly from Charity who’s been #TeamTolits from the beginning), particularly how he manages to steal every show he’s in. I first saw him in Magsimula Ka! and re-reading that blog entry now made me realize that I had the same comment about him: he stands out in every show he’s in. He’s quite a nice guy, too. People were crowding all over him at the Meet and Greet after the show and he tries his best to give everyone a chance to take pics with him. Even if Cha had to literally grab his arm and pull him over so that we can take a photo. :hihihi:

4. The actress who played Mary Jane – Stella Mendoza, if I’m not mistaken – nailed the Barangay Captain role with precise accuracy. I work with Kapitanas on a regular basis; she looked and talked exactly like them.

5. The story itself and the in-jokes are very Pinoy, which might explain why it’s so popular. I love that they manage to update snippets the dialog to match with what’s ‘in’ these days (eg., the mention of ‘Pabebe’). Also, mad props to that PA announcer who also brings in the laughs. I won’t go into detail in case anyone who hasn’t seen the show will read this. I don’t want to spoil the fun for you. :smile:

The show ends, and then came the post-show with Aegis band that made the night a million times more awesome.

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Seryoso. Saan kumukuha ng taas ng boses ang mga babaeng ito???? And they’re not grating to the ears, huh! :whoa:

Special mention must be made about that ‘isa pa!’ (one more!) segment of Sinta where Aegis’ Juliet Sunot challenged cast member Phi Palmos (who fabulously played Jewel in the musical) to sing the chorus one step higher at every repeat. He tried it out four times IIRC, which means Phi sang it at least four octaves higher. If you know the song, you’re probably like this right now: :stretcher: .

Side note: It was such a delight to watch an audience that is composed mainly of people from the alta-sociedad, about a quarter of which are senior citizens, that unanimously headbanged and sang along with Aegis. :rakenrol: This band’s demographics are to die for.

All in all, I really regret not seeing Rak of Aegis sooner. I highly recommend it to anyone, that is, anyone who can still manage to score tickets for its last few play dates.

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I haven’t been writing mini-reviews about anything lately because I haven’t had the time to watch. Lately, I’ve been losing interest over Korean dramas because nothing is really catching my fancy (unless someone or something finally convinces me to watch My Lovely Girl; it has been occupying significant disk space on my laptop, untouched, for the longest time), though I am looking forward to watching Kill Me, Heal Me because I’ve been seeing so many people raving about Ji Sung’s acting. In the meantime, I’ve jumped over the fence and saw a couple of ‘lakorns’ or Thai dramas which have been much talked about in forums that I regularly visit, or in the case of the second one, from rave reactions of my friends.

Hormones, Season 2

Warning: post may include SPOILERS

I’ve seen Season 1 and loved it, as I have written about on this mini-review. Since the end of Season 1 was left hanging as a lot of the main characters’ issues remained unresolved, I looked forward to watching the second season. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint.

While it is quite noticeable that the second season was somewhat ‘tamed’ in terms of presentation compared to the first one, the issues are still quite PG-rated (teen homosexuality, for instance; they even went towards the Glee way and showed implied sex between two people of the same gender) that I still think that this drama will never be allowed to be broadcast in the Philippines. :hopeless: But at the same time, they also showed ‘regular’ teen issues such as secret crushes among friends/classmates. Unlike in the first season where the topics were mostly about teen sexuality (like, if you watch Season 1 you would think that all high school students in Thailand engage in nothing but clubbing and sex – I know they’re most probably not, but that’s what Season 1 told me), Season 2 was more diverse. They also talked about drugs, peer pressure and the effects of both broadcast and social media on today’s youth.

As for the actors, the old cast was back and some new ones were introduced. In Season 1, Pachara Chirathivat/Peach as the main protagonist Win caught my fancy, even if he gives me a Richard Gutierrez vibe (which is so weird, because I don’t like Richard at all especially when he took the Justin role in the PH version of Full House). Peach didn’t do much in Season 2, in fact he starred in what I consider to be the most boring episode of the entire series. :sleep: The one who caught my interest in Season 2 is Gunn Junhavat as Tar, the rockstar musician, thus, a million pogi points for me even if he’s not traditionally cute and sorely lacking in height. He’s the one who got the ‘regular’ teen love story, that is, he has a girl best friend in Toei (played by Sutatta Udomsilp/Punpun who showed amazing acting chops in Season 2) and they seem to like each other, but the girl got a boyfriend who turned out to be bisexual and left her for another man. Meanwhile, Tar got a girlfriend of his own even if deep inside it’s Toei whom he really loves. I totally shipped Tar and Toei, until I learned later on that Punpun (the actress playing Toei) is actually in a relationship with March, the actor who played her bisexual boyfriend in the series. :wall: So much for having my ship sunk even before it sailed. Drats. :chair:

And speaking of sinking ships… let’s talk about…

Full House, Thai version

True confession: while I’ve learned about the Thai version of Full House from friends who couldn’t stop raving about Mike D Angelo (and one of them actually got the drama files from me but saw it ahead of me), I have always been hesitant to watch it. The reason is obvious: it’s FULL HOUSE. I don’t have to say anything else.

Then I got assigned to a faraway agency and had a lot of time to kill on the road. So I decided to catch up on my drama backlogs, beginning with this lakorn.

Admittedly, in the first few episodes, I couldn’t help but be all, “ugh, they’re ruining my Full House”. The first four episodes were practically duplicates of the original Korean. Mike was made to look and act a lot like Rain – as in Rain himself, not Lee Young Jae – and let’s admit it, he is SO not Rain. (Side note: it is only recently, through my research, that I learned that I actually knew Mike from way back; he was half of the duo Golf and Mike, whom I have seen in Japanese magazines before and caught my attention because of the name “Golf”. I was new in Asian entertainment then; at the time, I giggle at people who have names like Golf, Peach, March, Sprite, etc.) Aom is Han Ji Eun gone bad because (1) she’s not ignorant, but she does a lot of stupid things; and (2) she really intended to fool Mike. Han Ji Eun was really more like a victim of her own ignorance. (Although it could also be argued that what happened at the Korean version might not work for Thailand because they have different laws regarding selling of property.) Mintra, who is the Thai version of Kang Hye Won, was an outright bitch and a brat. Thankfully, she didn’t turn into Evil Lorraine in the Philippine version who even attempted to kill Jessie. (WTF is that version, really. :bop: ) The only character who somewhat appropriates the original Korean was Guy, the Thai version of Yoo Min Hyuk. It helped that Channel V’s VJ Utt, who played Guy, has a resemblance to Kim Sung Soo.

Fortunately, by episode six the drama eventually stopped being an exact copy of the Korean version and that’s when I warmed up to Mike and Aom. Mike had the same Rain Effect (pun intented) on me; just like Rain, I didn’t like him at first. By the middle of the series, he grew on me. He’s one of those actors with acting eyes, and he’s a good crier, too. (Actually, he’s hot when he cries. And I am weird. :err: ) Aom can be annoying sometimes, but she’s good at dramatic scenes. Jane (Mintra) is so good at being a brat that I want to slap her silly and throw her into the river behind Full House. Utt is convincing as the player Guy, because well, it’s VJ Utt. He has that swag. Special mention should be made about the golden retriever named Junior who visits Aom’s house every now and then to keep her company. That dog managed to make me cry twice.

Technically, my only gripe about this drama is the editing. I think there were too many scenes that could’ve been shortened or taken out altogether to make the drama more cohesive. But if they did that, the drama might be shortened to 15 episodes instead of 20.

I hate to commit blasphemy against my beloved Korean version, but I think the screenplay of the Thai version is more realistic and convincing. This version also has so many kilig scenes that it came to the point that I wished that the original Korean was like this. Then again, if Rain and Song Hye Kyo did the ice cream scene from the Thai version, all of us would probably die from so much feels. And don’t get me started on that trailer park scene from the final episode…

Mike and Aom looked so comfy together – actually, too comfy, based on the behind-the-scene clips – that I found myself shipping them. Unfortunately, it was revealed that Mike has sired a child with his ex-girlfriend last year, although they’re not married and it seems that they have no plans of getting hitched. So the AoMike ship still sails, but I don’t want to get too attached. One Full House couple is enough. :cry:

Still, I couldn’t help but envy the Thai version and wished that the Korean one is like them. The Thai pair is so close, and they never hesitate to go public with it. Meanwhile, we won’t even know for sure that the Korean ones are close until they personally declared it three years after the drama has ended (and we never saw any evidence since then). The Thai pair had many public appearances after Full House (they even had a Full House Live! Special where they had a Big Brother/We Got Married style episode and really, great acting from the two if they were really acting) and rumors (or I think it’s confirmed?) say that they are currently filming a new drama together.

Meanwhile, the Korean counterparts did not have any follow-up collaborations despite Full House being highly successful (seriously, what is up with that?), and the two are now acting as if they don’t know each other.

Trust Agent P to turn this review into another lamentation of the ship that sunk. Sigh. :sad:

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theprince-poster

My review of The Prince, starring Jason Patric, Bruce Willis, John Cusack, 50 Cent, and Rain:

It’s like watching a Filipino action movie but with English dialog.

Here’s a spoiler: The Prince? Is Fernando Poe, Jr. :wacky: (You have to be Pinoy to understand this.)

For those who may be curious, Mr. Jung’s screen time here is approximately 9 minutes and 33 seconds, which is not too far off from my earlier prediction that his exposure here is 10 minutes, tops. So YAY! for my prediction skills. :hihihi:

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