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Pumapatak Na Naman Ang Mga Hit Songs Ng APO: A Review Of "Eto Na! Musical nAPO"

When it comes to OPM hits and a songbook that would be the envy of any songwriter or singing group, the Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society (or APO for short) will always stand tall. From the 1970s all the way to today, their songs have withstood the test of time, with covers and reinterpretations ready to sustain the relevance and familiarity of their tunes. In fact, while a film treatment happened a few years back, it’s surprising to note that only now has a full-fledged stage musical been created around their hits. And we can thank our lucky stars that it’s 9Works and Globe Live!, with their excellent record for production values and performance standards, that are behind this staging.

 

READ: Meet The Cast Of Stage Musical "Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!"



Now running at the Maybank Theater until the end of August, Eto Na! Musical nAPO is the brainchild of Robbie Guevara who not only directs, but is responsible for creating the story against which the APO songs are now used to dramatically drive forward the production. An energetic romp through campus life in the 1970s, the plot basically revolves around a barkada of seven young men who join a songwriting TV competition. This barkada element (in fact, at one point, it’s noted how originally, they were a dozen in number) is one of the most endearing and genuine aspects of the play’s book. 

 



Studying, falling in love, composing songs, hanging out—they all make up the situations and repartee that drive the action. Light-hearted and flippant, you’ll love how topical the humor and jokes are, highlighting the '70s period and yet creating more impact because they’re being said today, so a dimension of irony is thrown into the mix.

It’s a great ensemble cast, and they all hit their marks. If there is one astounding surprise and constant delight, it would be a certain Jobim Javier, who is no other than Danny Javier’s son. I can only guess what it must be like performing and interpreting songs that were originally composed and performed by your own father. He must be in a very unique position; feeling emotions that not any other single thespian on the stage could feel.
 

 

If I had to fault the production, it would be on two counts. One, they plug almost all the really great songs in the first act, and to kick off the second act. And as a result, it’s two, a little bit too long—with the second act reprising several songs that we already heard in the first. In the show’s favor though, is that if you had to pin down one song as the real wonderful surprise, that song is found in the second act; look out for the totally unexpected, yet poignant, use of the song "Pag-ibig."
 

 

Also, I felt the use of female voices was under-utilized. And that is a shame, as when they were used and thrust into the spotlight, they constantly delivered. Note that these are all very minor points, as by and large, there is a keen sense of palpable enthusiasm emanating from the cast—and it’s downright infectious, 

Kudos to PJ Rebuillida who handles the choreography. He keeps the stage bustling, and while the dance routines may not be as riveting or physical as the work he executed for newsies, there are enough surprises and movements to keep us entertained. 

I’m purposely not saying all that much about particular production numbers. That would merely spoil your experience watching it on your own. Suffice it to say that this is an enjoyable night at the theater, and it deserves to be watched, so get your tickets now.

 

Lead images from @jimparedes