Ang Huling El Bimbo Musical 2019 Takes us to an Emotional Overdrive

“No matter who you are, no matter where you are from, or what your background is, one thing can unite us all – MUSIC.” – Marshall

Ang Huling El Bimbo 2019 by Full House Theater Company, written by Dingdong Novenario, and directed and choreographed by Dexter Santos, with live music from the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, is a classic take on Eraserheads’ songs, from the popular hits like Ligaya, Magasin and With a Smile to cult favorites Paru-Parong Ningning, Waiting for the Bus and Fine Time among other songs and takes us from past to present generations bringing in a unique take to storytelling with a few surprises in the end that got us hooked even more.

The hit musical and recent nominee for the Gawad Buhay Awards, Ang Huling El Bimbo, returned to the stage for a second run this 2019. The story revolves around the friendship between three boys and a naive girl that started during their life in college. Seems quite simple. But when the story starts unweaving the personal conflicts the characters are facing, the transition from their past and present lives, it suddenly transcends the audience into a rollercoaster of emotions. One moment, they made us laugh hysterically and then punched us hard on the gut in the next.

Eraserheads is undeniably one of those bands who perfectly defines a certain generation – the 90s, and this is where the big chunk of the story takes us. From the visual set design centered on the revolving sari-sari store, box-type sedans, to wearing plaid shirts and loose pants combined with the wide-eyed optimism of the young characters.

The way the songs of Eraserheads was incorporated into the play was also unique and symbolic. One notable twist was to the song, Pare ko, which was remixed to fit the beat of the CMT scene. Shirley was also given a fresh take to its name.  Spolarium was still as tragic as its interpretation. Though some songs could be used less repetitively in certain scenes.

The story opens with the present lives of the three adult characters Emman (OJ Mariano), Hector (David Ezra) and Anthony (Rafa Siguion-Reyna) after they suddenly got re-connected following a harrowing incident. Their present life decisions are subjected to critical judgment left and right, throwing them into a never-ending battle of who is right or wrong. We initially had a disconnect with their adult counterparts but thankfully had their redeeming quality in the end.

For us, the young leads (Reb Atedero as the artistic Hector, Boo Gabunada as the ‘probinsyano’ Emman, Lance Reblando as the closeted Anthony and Tanya Manalang as the slightly underprivileged but ever hopeful Joy ), was the heart of the show. Their bright-eyed innocence, optimism, and idealism while going through daily struggles had us reminiscing our days during college.  We have to say, our favorite character is Tiya Dely (Sheila Francisco) and the young Ligaya. Although they play supporting roles, their characters made the whole plot cohesive, truly memorable and achingly brilliant.

“We laughed hysterically, cried buckets, and enjoyed the timeless music.” – Ms. Lea Salonga

Ang Huling El Bimbo Musical 2019 runs from March 1 to April 14, 2019, at the Newport Performing Arts Theater at Resorts World Manila.  It is a must-see for any Eraserheads fan or for anyone who wants more than just entertainment, a person who digs great music, appreciates great singing and acting, combined with stunning visuals and an awe-inspiring story. It breaks the boundaries of original and Filipino-made musicals. A successful second run truly deserving of a standing ovation.

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