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The OPM Miss, Sigh, Gone: A Review Of "Binondo, A Tsinoy Musical"

Running for one more weekend at the Solaire Theater (5 performances over July 6-8), is the very first Tsinoy musical, Binondo. Produced by Rebecca Chuauansu, directed by Joel Lamangan, with a libretto by Ricky Lee, music by Von de Guzman, and choreography by Douglas Nierras, the musical is an exhilarating showcase of possibilities—set in the turbulent 1970’s, and centred on a love story between Ah Tiong, a visiting young Chinese academic, and Lily, a Filipina-Chinese girl who sings in a night club. Arman Ferrer and David Ezra alternate as Ah Tiong, while Shiela Valderrama-Martinez and Carla Guevara-Laforteza essay the Lily role. Completing the core love triangle is Carlos, Lily’s best friend who loves her from afar, portrayed by Noel Rayos and Floyd Tena. 

 

After the show, Carla Guevara-Laforteza, with Atty. and Mrs. Salvador Panelo.

 

For those not familiar with our local show business industry, Rebecca has assembled a powerhouse group of people to make this dream project come to life. And on the night I watched there were a number of things that truly impressed, and I loved how the audience was so appreciative, avidly following the twists and turns of the story.
 


 

BINONDO: A TSINOY MUSICAL JUNE 29 – JULY 8 THEATRE @ SOLAIRE A Journey of Great Love and Heartbreak BINONDO: A Tsinoy Musical tells the story of how LILY, a Filipina nightclub singer in pre-Martial Law Manila, and AH TIONG, a mainland Chinese scholar returning to Cultural Revolution-era Beijing, embark on a journey of great love and heartbreak that begins one fated, moon-lit night during the Mid-Autumn Festival of 1972 in the heart of Manila’s Chinatown. Spanning two decades (the 1970s and 1990s respectively) and two countries (China and Philippines), the musical explores how love can triumph amidst racial prejudice and political turmoil, years of waiting and absence; only to grow deeper and change the lives of everyone who dares to put their hearts on the line. The schedule of performances is as follows: June 29 at 8pm; June 30 and July 1 at 3 and 8pm; July 6 at 8pm; July 7 and 8 at 3 and 8pm. Venue: Theatre at Solaire BINONDO, A TSINOY MUSICAL shall feature the country’s multi-talented artists from film, TV, stage namely Shiela Valderrama Martinez and Carla Guevara Laforteza (Lily); Arman Ferrer and David Ezra (Ah Tiong); Floyd Tena and Noel Rayos (Carlos); Mariella Laurel (Jasmine); Ashlee Factor (Ruby); Ima Castro (Mrs. Dela Rosa); Jennifer Villegas dela Cruz (Lourdes); Dondi Ong (Mr. Chua); Kay Balajadia Liggayu (Mrs. Chua); Russell Magno (Mr. Zhang); Elizabeth Chua (Mrs. Zhang); Jonel Mojica and Joseph Billeza (Ge Lao); Jim Pebanco, Lorenz Martinez, Khalil Kaimo, Tuesday Vargas, Ellrica Laguardia, and Rhapsody Li (Chorus); Philip Deles and Ivana Villanueva (Swing); Froilan Dabalus and Christaliza Dabalus (Principal Dancers). The ensemble are as follows: Ryan Caraan, Carlos Deriada Jr., Rence Aviles, Paul Clark, Xander Pineda, Romcel Brinquis, Joseph Puducay, VJ Cortel, Daniel Cruz, Zyrus Imperial, Cheeno Macaraig, Roy Sotero, Dusty Suarez, Randy Rey, Precious Sementilla, Julia Chua, Janine Tolentino, Ronald Policarpio, Ric Mar Policarpio, Kate Jacob, Judy Anne Mendoza, JR Calumpiano, Joshua Orbasido, Divine Dacles, Cheska Quimno Buy your tickets now at ticketworld.com.ph! You may also call 891-9999!

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The love story, inspired by a Chinese professor Rebecca met when she visited China in 1986, has strong telenovela elements. There’s the young Tsinoy girl meets visiting mainland Chinese man, and they fall in love angle. There’s the young man/best friend who pines for girl, but is rebuffed. There’s the return to China so Ah Tiong can inform his parents about Lily, while Lily’s mother is dead set against the relationship. And there’s the aspect of how Martial Law here, and the Cultural Revolution in China impinge on the lives of all our protagonists; creating a thread of unrequited love, broken promises, missed opportunities, heavy decision-making, and consequences faced. 

 



The musical score is reminiscent of the era the story is set in, OPM in the 1970s. And there is the distinct use of Chinese songs and musical passages as incidental music. In fact, the love duets are so plaintive, I wouldn’t be surprised if they could be released as ‘singles’ and become popular hits. There is much to love about the song numbers and nifty choreography, with one production number at the night club very VST, and it works wonderfully. And the singing—both the female and male leads impress, sustaining notes and providing emotion in equal measure. One showstopper number from the support cast comes courtesy of Lily’s Mom—look out for her song number when you catch the musical.

If anything, it’s a shame that the show only runs for two weekends—5 performances per weekend. So do try and catch it this weekend. It’s not perfection, but it is a window into Chinese-Filipino culture, and an opportunity to listen to original music—a departure from the trend today to take the songbooks of established musical acts.

 

Photos from @binondomusical