MANILA, Philippines – “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” [The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros] set the standard high for any Filipino film that followed it since it premiered in 2005.
It was not just a great independent film, nor was it just a great gay film.
It wasn’t just a great Filipino film — it simply was a great film, comparable with the world’s best.
Its appeal went well beyond homosexuals, as evidenced by its strength at the box office. It came out the same year the star-studded Hollywood movie “Brokeback Mountain” did, but proved much more nuanced, sophisticated, evolved and soulful.
Though “Maximo Oliveros'” protagonist was also gay, the film didn’t make a big fuss of it. There was so much more to the film than just issues of sexuality and acceptance. It won over critics and audiences of all genders in the Philippines and abroad. It has been a tough act to follow since.
“Maxie the Musicale,” which previewed a reading of a few scenes to select members of the press, dares to up the ante.
It wasn’t just throughly spellbinding, capturing the humor and heart of the movie without simply repeating it. It wasn’t just a musical with cojones, combining soulful grunge with infectious pop sensibility that pays homage to the “Manila Sound” genre of Original Pilipino Music. It wasn’t just a great gay musical or just a great theatrical adaptation of a movie.
This musical’s appeal extends to all. This may well be the musical of our time, just as “Rent” was for generation X or “Hairspray” was for hippies. “Maxie” promises to educate today’s generation on what a real musical is supposed to sound, look and feel like.
Only the dead will fail to smile and clap at “Maxie the Musicale’s” songs. Anyone with a soul cannot help but love these tunes. This play features a totally compelling story and all original songs, each mercilessly fine-tuned and vetted to serve the narrative and the aesthetic of the musical.
Taking credit for the music are grungy rocker William Elvin Manzano, soulful crooner JJ Pimpinio and classical soprano Janine Santos. Book and lyrics are by Nicolas Pichay. Direction and choreography are by Dexter Santos.
At the preview, great pains were taken to explain that those who sang and recited the lines were not necessarily the ones who will be on stage playing the characters when “Maxie the Musicale” runs from November 9 to December 8 at the PETA Theater Center, New Manila, Quezon City.
But on the strength of the songs and dialogue alone, this is one production worth the wait. – Rappler.com
Rome Jorge is the editor in chief of Asian Traveler magazine.