Dateline Movies Goes to Repertory's 50 Years of Telling Stories: A Musical Gala

50 Years of Telling Stories: A Musical Gala

Play Date: Opened and Ended June 11, 2017

Genre/s: Biopic, Comedy, Drama, Musical

Presented by Repertory Philippines

Based on the true history of "Repertory Philippines"

Writer: Luna Griño-Inocian

Musical Director: Ejay Yatco

Directors (Also Starring As Themselves):
  • Bart Gungonia
  • Jaime Del Mundo
  • Miguel Faustmann
  • Audie Gemora
  • Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo
  • Raymond Lauchengco
  • Freddie Santos
  • Michael Williams

School is finally back in session here in the Philippines, and before I finally step into the world of senior high, me and my family had the chance to venture all the way to Solaire Resorts, to join Repertory Philippines' commemoration of their Fifty Years of Telling Stories, in the form of a Musical Gala. Since it is a festivity of all things fancy, there were exquisite cocktails, interesting and lengthy conversations, and of course, lots of successful people. One of those successful gentlefolk was Jaime Fabregas, a talented, veteran Filipino actor who I was able to get a chance to take a picture with. I cannot believe I got to take a picture with a famous actor! I even met one of my best friends' mother, and even my own dentist, Dr. Victor Francis "JV" Gregorio (who was once a member of Repertory Philippines during his schooling days) at the show. What a small world we live in, indeed. Okay, that is enough reminiscing for once. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and here is our review!

What is the play about?

For fifty years, Repertory Philippines has brought countless memorable adaptations from every corner of the world to life! For five decades, audiences young and old alike, have been inspired by the wonderful stage productions the theater group has made! Now, get ready to experience the true story, the rise, the fall, the rise again of Repertory Philippines! Get to know the most important events encountered by REP through the decades, in a way, which is arguably the absolute best way possible, that they know how, a musical!

What we think of the play?

From here on out, I would no longer use the format applied in movie reviews, just for you, the readers, and also me, for some reason, to distinguish which is which easily.

I have heard of adaptations of true stories from third-person accounts, but rarely have I watched a production that features a specific history from the people who actually experienced those events. As an anniversary play, the entire stage production reminded me of the two-hundredth episode of Saturday Night Live, in a great way, as well as the magnificent Disney animated musical classic, Fantasia, wherein the present cast of the variety show recalls the greatest moments in their broadcasting history, given that the performance also showcased the finest events in the troupe's overall career.

Organisers for the 50th gala celebration of REP:

L-R standing: Ayam Barredo, Gidget Tolentino, Raymond Lauchengco, Jamie Wilson, Mio Infante, Bart Guingona, Miguel Faustman, Mindy Perez-Rubio, Joel Nunez, Luna Inocian
Seated: Joy Virata, Jaime Del Mundo, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Michael Williams

In addition, the plot follows a straightforward "underdog story", wherein we see how a once unknown group of talented individuals came together, and eventually, reach the height of success, leaving a legacy worth remembering by the people, of all ages and genders. It is that kind of tale that you would come to expect from a "rags to riches" work, but what makes 50 Years decent is its raw honesty towards their history, similar to the best adaptations of true stories. This is so since you will really delve deep into the world of the "Repers", and the play is not shy from telling everyone about some of their past shortcomings. Some of them include their failed "Luv" play, wherein the production suffered from several technical difficulties, and their first ever play, "Miss Julie", which was only attended by seven people. Their approach of being honest to the events that shaped their present, plus with some added sense of humor to make the audience relate to their experiences,  are huge assets to the play's success. In turn, their ability to not take their story with some moments made for the laughs is interesting, and it is a nice touch to the overall story.

Have you heard of a true story adapted to the stage as a jukebox musical? Well, maybe it has been done a lot of times, but this was the first actual time which I watched one, and indeed, I was more than impressed with the overall quality of the production. It does not have that much prestigious set pieces that you normally see in other plays, and they make use of almost exclusively formal attire, with the exception of some key scenes, wherein they only use costumes that were used in previous stage plays, but the end result was extremely far from a snooze fest.


The acting, as well as the musical numbers presented in each segment, are all on point. One of the best parts that show this claim includes the prologue number, wherein the current Rep Fiftieth Core Ensemble danced and sang to the beat of "We Tell The Story", immediately setting-up the mood of the play with fun and playful melodies.

All of the directors who joined in, especially Freddie Santos, who headlined the fourth suite "The Hands: The Unsung Heroes", wherein he talked about the trials and tribulations of their group, as well as the behind-the-scenes people who contributed to the several successful moments in Rep's resume, continue to enliven the audience with their charming storytelling. My parents especially enjoyed the part in suite number four, which is "Comedy Tonight", namely because of Mitch Valdes, who sang the previously quoted two words in different tones to hilarious effect, while being backed-up by other amazing singers Franco Laurel, Jack Salud, JM Rodriguez, and Red Nuestro.

I really do not know why, but the number "Finishing The Hat", which honored the directors who joined the group over the years, somewhat made me a little teary-eyed. It might be possibly the beautiful composition, and vocal work from Bart Guingona, accompanied by Topper Fabregas, Sheila Francisco, Pinky Amador, Caisa Borromeo, Carla Guevara-Laforteza, and Cathy Azanza-Dy, because this one was the best in the entire production.

I would like to give a shout-out to Monique Wilson, and her vocal partner, for their astounding performances prior to the finale, as they honor those who have done a lot of things for the group, and have now passed away. The two's powerful singing voices made for an emotional moment.

After the final moments, wherein all current and former members of the Rep are invited to sing along of "Epilogue", the play, overall, was a fairly decent and heartfelt outing, with only minimal flaws, such as overuse of extremely bright lighting (I am serious. The hanging multicolored lights keep hitting my eyes, which makes the play not really easy to see), and some volume inconsistencies, such as in the "Camp Rock: The Musical" segment, wherein the two main actors for that part's vocal tone change at some points. Remember that none of these flaws would detract you from a wonderful experience at theater, which a single viewing of 50 Years of Telling Stories will provide you. Besides, you might even end up like me, who is now somewhat interested to join in the world of theater productions.

And that concludes our official review of 50 Years of Story Telling: A Musical Gala. But before you guys leave, please tune in to one of the songs featured in this play, and the one that I consider the one as my most favorite, "Finishing The Hat". Stay tuned for Dateline Movies!


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