Mar 27, 2019

Here’s a confession that’s going to surprise absolutely nobody: I love theater. I come from a family of lowkey theater actors, though my immediate family went the business route instead of the arts. Still, I like to think that it’s in my blood. (Thus my brief and awkward foray into the performing arts, but that’s fodder for a different story). There’s something exhilarating about going to the theater, watching actors perform on stage and knowing that even if they’re reciting the same lines every night, no two shows are the same.

Today is World Theater Day. Established by the International Theatre Institute in 1961, this day celebrates this art form and challenges governments and institutions to see the value of the stage. In honor of that, here are some plays by local companies that you need to watch (or watch out for).

Atlantis’ Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes

If you’re a theater fan, you’ve definitely heard of Tony Kushner’s classic. Angels in America is the most Tony Award-nominated play in history, and it’s pretty well deserved. It’s an epic fantasia on the ’80s AIDS crisis, one that takes real life and fictional characters to create a nuanced and imaginative portrayal of the time. It also has a fantastical story: One of the subplots is that God has left heaven, and it’s up to a gay man dying of AIDS to save heaven. With the rising rates of HIV and AIDS in this country, the show becomes even more meaningful and important—basically, you’ve got to see it.

Tanghalang Ateneo’s AKO: Alpha Kappa Omega

Can you believe that fraternities still exist? My alma mater, Ateneo, has banned fraternities from its premises, but other universities have yet to follow suit, which is pretty disappointing. Many artists have weighed in on the existence of frats in Philippine society, but I think the definitive one is Mike de Leon’s Batch 81. The student theater organization Tanghalang Ateneo is staging an adaptation of the film. Directed by Guelan Varela-Luarca, it’s not one to miss.

Ang Huling El Bimbo

ang huling el bimbo 2019 resorts world
Photo courtesy of Resorts World Manila

The jukebox musical featuring Eraserheads’ most iconic hits is back. If you’ve ever been to any karaoke session or local live show, you’d know just how impactful the song “Ang Huling El Bimbo” is. The show has a lot to live up to, but we think it’s able to reach it. (Read: Theater notes: “Ang Huling El Bimbo” is an eye-opening trip)

Phantom of the Opera

I don’t know what your feelings are vis-à-vis Sondheim versus Webber, but even the staunchest Sondheim stans (guilty as charged) have to admit that Webber’s Phantom of the Opera is a pretty fun show. It’s being staged again locally at Solaire, which means you’ve got another chance to watch Christine’s problematic ex/psycho kidnapper try to woo her. (I did admit I was a Sondheim stan, okay?) Kidding aside, this show is a favorite of many for a reason, and you definitely have to watch it. Also, Jonathan Roxmouth is a way better Phantom than Gerard Butler was.

Stop Kiss

Jenny Zamora and Missy Maramara play the leading roles of Stop Kiss

Though there’s no definite date for Stop Kiss yet, you should definitely watch out for this one. Staged by Teatro Pilipinas, it’s a show that centers around a hate crime against two women in love with one another (which thankfully does not show the actual violence). It’s a really important watch; we might purportedly be the most LGBT-friendly country in Asia, but we still have a long, long way to go. (Corrective rape for lesbians still happens!)


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Read more:

Theater notes: “Ang Huling El Bimbo” is an eye-opening trip

“Nana Rosa” and how we’re failing the comfort women

Don’t be that noisy viewer in the theater

Watch spoken word performances and more at the Performatura Festival

TAGS: alpha kappa omega ang huling el bimbo angels in america phantom of the opera stop kiss theater world theater day