5 reasons to watch ‘Rama Hari’

Jude Cartalaba

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With only over a week on stage, here's why you MUST catch this Ballet Philippines production

THE COLLABORATORS. Ryan Cayabyab, Alice Reyes and National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera are behind the music, direction, choreography and libretto of 'Rama Hari.' Photo courtesy of Jude Cartalaba

MANILA, Philippines – Alice Reyes’ hit pop ballet musical Rama Hari came alive again onstage on Friday, November 30 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Theater (Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo), 32 years after it was created.

The Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo is also where The Phantom of the Opera was staged for months this year.

Rama Hari inspired the staging of the epic adventure and love story Rama at Sita by ML Entertainment in 1999.

Rama Hari is not Filipino in its roots: it is based on the Indian epic Ramayana, a story of courage, magic and humor. Ramayana consists of 18 books and 24,000 verses divided into 500 songs.

The story revolves around Rama, the avatar — an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu — and his wife Sita. They are banished from their kingdom for 14 years, plotted by the mother of one of Rama’s 4 brothers to keep him from becoming the next king.

Given this, there is already drama that most Filipinos will identify with.

But here are 5 more reasons why you must not miss Rama Hari:

1) Christian Bautista and Karylle Tatlonghari essay the singing Rama and Sita, fresh from their success in The Kitchen Musical. 

Karylle Tatlonghari and Christian Bautista. Photo by Jojit Lorenzo

Before becoming the 4th placer in ABS-CBN’s Star In A Million in 2003, Christian had already been part of Trumpet’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Joseph the Dreamer in 2002. He was also part of West Side Story in 2008, the same year he won the award for Favorite Musical Artist in the very first Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards Philippines.

Karylle was nominated for Best Actress for TV Series-Drama at the Monte Carlo TV Festival last June for The Kitchen Musical. She pitted alongside Hollywood stars like Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) and Lena Heady (Game of Thrones), among others.

Putting Christian and Karylle together guarantees a spectacular show.

2) The alternates for Rama and Sita are equally talented: OJ Mariano and Kalila Aguilos.

OJ Mariano and Kalila Aguilos. Photo by Jojit Lorenzo

Like Christian, OJ also joined ABS-CBN’s Star In A Million (second season) where he finished second runner-up. After the competition, he released an album under Star Records titled One Dream Come True and received an Awit Award in 2006 for Best New Male Recording Artist. He then moved on to theater, and his last outing was Atlantis Productions’ Singapore-run Avenue Q in October where he played Gary Coleman. 

Kalila was nominated in the Golden Screen Awards in 2008 for her lead role performance in Haw-Ang (in English, “Before Harvest”) as Sister Adel, a light-hearted young nun who goes to a farming village in Ifugao to teach catechism and eventually builds a schoolhouse. Prior to Rama Hari, she appeared as Lucy Harris in Repertory Philippines’ Jekyll and Hyde.  

3) Since it’s a Ballet Philippines production, expect lots of amazing dance performances.

Carissa Adea and Jean Marc Cordero. Photo by Jojit Lorenzo

Jean Marc Cordero (Rama) is the Special Jury Prize winner for Best Pas de Deux Technique at the 2012 Helsinki International Ballet Competition.

Alternating him is Richardson Yadao. He is a Ballet Philippines company member since 2009 and was nominated for Outstanding Featured Male Performer in a Dance Production at the 2010 Gawad Buhay for his portrayal of Captain Hook in Edna Vida’s Peter Pan.

Carissa Adea (Sita) was mentored by ballet greats Josette Salang and Jinggay Formoso, Sofia Zobel for RAD, Brezhnev Larlar and Lisa Macuja. In 1997, she landed a scholarship at the Australian Conservatoire of Ballet, Australia under Christine Walsh.

Alternating her is Katherine Trofeo. She has performed feature roles in Myra Beltran’s Dance Forum, including The Romeo and Juliet Project and Payatas: Point-Counterpoint, a dance video project of Beltran and film director Carlitos Siguion Reyna. It was screened at the Global Dance 2002 World Dance Alliance Festival in Dusseldorf, Germany.

4) Three great names in Philippine culture and the arts are behind Rama Hari.

Ballet Philippines’ visionary founder Alice Reyes directs and choreographs. Her superb credits in dance include ballet, folk, jazz and modern dance. She earned her Master of Arts in Dance from the Sarah Lawrence College under its scholarship program and was subsequently awarded two other grants from the John D. Rockefeller III Fund and the Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines, which enabled her to study further under leading exponents of the medium.

Ryan Cayabyab is behind the music. A legend in Original Pilipino Music, he is one of the most prolific composers and recognizable names in music in the Philippines.

National Artist Bienvenido Lumbero penned the libretto. The prize-winning poet, critic and dramatist is also a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communications, and is acknowledged as one of the pillars of contemporary Philippine literaturecultural studies and film.

5) “Rama Hari” boasts of set and costume design by the late National Artist for Theater Design Salvador Bernal.

Katherine Trofeo. Photo by Jojit Lorenzo

Theater aficionados compare this fact with the breathtaking scenery and costume designs of The Phantom of the Opera by the late production designer Maria Björnson. Rama Hari‘s stark white stage design, peppered with ornate hand props and costumes can definitely compare with the mechanical sets of any foreign show mounted in CCP.

Rama Hari‘s message is that any person can be a hero — with honesty, devotion, perseverance and bravery. Evil cannot win over good people who have the courage to resist and overturn it. – Rappler.com


Rama Hari will run until Sunday, December 9. The Manila Symphony Orchestra performs live. For inquiries, call Ballet Philippines at 551-1003 and 551-0221 or Ticketworld at 891-9999. Visit www.ballet.ph or the Ballet Philippines Facebook page.

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