Monday, June 21, 2010

Put It In A Box For Me

HK Singers' 2010 Production of "Oliver!"

Whenever someone who had seen the show came up to me and said, "You did a wonderful job. You must be proud of yourself," there was always a split second where my mind debated as to whether to answer it with false modesty, or to take the compliment graciously and be thankful about it. And everytime I found myself in that situation since we moved into the theatre, even before we opened, I always answered--- with pride, conviction, and gratitude--- "I am, indeed, very, very proud."

HK Singers' Oliver has been the most challenging choreographic project I have ever taken on, by far. We had 65 performers in the chorus, 40 of whom were kids; 10 principals, 2 of whom--- Oliver and Dodger--- were kids; 22 musical numbers; and barely three months to stage the entire musical at only three times a week. The biggest challenge of them all: the movement style requirement was NOT my style.
Photo by Tim Bowman

But, with Phil Whelan's string and clear artistic vision & direction; Jodi Gilchrist's invaluable guidance; the trust they both bestowed upon me to take the liberty to explore artistically and to make directorial choices; my ever-reliable dance captain, Chow; Jacqueline Gourlay Grant's patience despite the many times my dance rehearsals had to eat up her vocal rehearsal time; and the vote of confidence that the cast showed me throughout the entire process, I delivered what was asked of me. And, modesty aside, I did it brilliantly. I wouldn't have, though, if not for these wonderfully talented and inspiringly daring people. Oh, I need to mention, some of them are sometimes hard-headed as well. That was an even bigger challenge.

The success of Oliver is particularly special to me because beyond the choreography, I jumped on-board the team with a mission in my heart. Over the past nine months that I have been totally immersed with the "Community Theatre" scene in HK, I have grown to dislike the term "community theatre". I have seen so many people use the term as an excuse for mediocrity, and I found that awfully disheartening. I think that while "community theatre" means that we do not have enough money to pay our actors, artistic team, production team, stage crew and orchestra the professional fee that they deserve, it should not mean that "this is all" we are capable of. Lack of training is forgivable. It is easy to remedy. But complacency, especially because this is just "community theatre" anyway, is not.
Photo by Tim Bowman
Oliver and Mrs. Bedwin looked out of the window, and they saw a lady walking with a basket full of roses. She was selling them for two blooms for a penny. The milkmaid followed, and then the lady that sold ripe strawberries. After a beat, the knife grinder walked on asking out loud who had knives he could sharpen.

Sitting in the dark, I was an outsider looking into their world where the sky was clear, the sun shone brightly, the roses were lush and red, the strawberries were ripe, sweet and juicy, everything was perfect and melodies and harmonies existed-- not worries and troubles. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to float with the soft but poignant music coming from the pit.

"Who will buy this wonderful morning? Such a sky you never did see! Who will tie it up with a ribbon and put it in a box for me? So I can see it at my leisure-- whenever things go wrong, and I would keep it as a treasure-- to last my whole life long," Oliver sang in the background.

A tear fell. It was our closing show, and I wish I knew who could tie it up in a ribbon and put it in a box for me.

Rye Bautista

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Milestone

"It's funny how you hold on for something for so long, and then you wake up one morning and you just don't need it anymore."

--Marshall, Broken Hearts Club

It's funny how I needed it for 18 years-- to soothe my pains, to heighten my joys, to socialize, to rejoice with, to help me digest my meals, to write with, to think with, to drink with, to be alone with, to be part of me in every milestone or every quiet moment of my life--- and then I woke up on the morning of June 19, 2009, and not need it anymore.

It's been a year.

The last.

The first.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chiquitta Goes To Callbacks

I'm disappointed, but I'm not bitter. And I mean it, really. What people don't realize is that it would be tremendously stupid for me to be bitter about it.

The project is meant for people between 15 and 25 years old. I am 5 years past the age limit. And if they decided to not play by the rules and allowed me to get the part, then they'd be doing me a favor that I have to be super grateful for. If they decided otherwise, they'd be playing fair and square.

It had nothing to do with talent, as my friend Heidi puts it. I know that for sure. Hell, yeah, I do. But why am I disappointed? Because I was so close to playing one of my dream roles. SO close. I don't mind being disappointed. And I'm not shy to be honest about it. I find that disappointment is healthy for me because it makes me examine the situation in many different angles, and I am able to learn from it very well.

I, as a performer, have two dream roles: Kim in Miss Saigon, and Angel in Rent. The former is quite far-fetched, to say the least, while the latter, is so easy to achieve. Hey, I almost did. I may not be the strongest bari-tenor that one could ever find, but I knew deep in my heart that I can bring it. The heels, the wig, the dancing, the pizzazz, the character, the backstory--- I knew so well I could work all of it. I just didn't know I could work it all so damn well. Modesty aside, that is the biggest learning in this experience. Realizing that the limitations that I had set for myself in the past are not my real limitations. That there is so much more that I am capable of.

My Angel dream doesn't end here. In fact, this is the beginning. This experience gives birth to a performer that is a world closer to Angel.

So why am I writing this down and publishing online for all the world to see? Four reasons:

1) to pacify my friends who are worried that I might be depressed that I didn't get the role, because that's the effect that my Facebook status update sent out;

2) to serve as a reminder for me when I start to second-guess myself;

3) to thank Scott and Lindsey for the wonderful callback experience, and for objectively explaining to us the real situation (I look forward to working with you both in the future, and I wish you all the best for Rent. I'll be watching the opening!); and

3) to send out feelers for producers who might be interested in producing it in the future. Call me. Oh, I meant, "for producers who might be interested in producing the adult version of it in the future. But not in the near, near, near future. Way after the YAF production." Call me.

Saturday, June 05, 2010


Five years today.
Happy anniversary, friends!
Happy FIFTH anniversary!


This photo was taken on the eve of Day 1 of our low carb, low salt, low sugar, high protein, high fiber diet programme which was supposed to run for 2 weeks.
April 22, 2010.

This was what we had.
Pinaupong manok, pritong isda, binagoongan leftover, munggo guisado with tuna and
crumbled smoked bacon, steamed white rice.
(Scolded [for lack of a better term] chicken, fried fish, pork in shrimp paste sauce leftover,
sauteed lentils with tuna and topped with crumbled smoked bacon, white rice)

After that night, our diet consisted of "healthy" protein like this one.
Baked catfish fillet.

Also fruits and greens. Fruits would be our breakfast and snack. And we're big on greens!
All kinds of them, from organic iceberg lettuce, to rocket, to choi sum. Raw or steamed.

Once, we felt the need for rice because we were having baked chicken marinated in rendang sauce.
So to have the feel and look of rice without the unwanted carbs, we paired it with mashed cauliflower.

What was planned to run for two weeks showed results that we loved! And so we decided
to keep following the same diet regimen, just tweaked a little bit so that we no longer lost
any more weight since we have achieved our desired weight anyway.

It's been more than a month. But tonight, we decided to go for a break. Just tonight.
We didn't have rice, or anything as sinful as that. We had something... a little bit more sinful.

The photo disgracefully failed to do Vanessa's chocolate mousse justice. But it was divine! We had a big slice each,
and we're not guilty. Tomorrow's another day. And we have some more left for tomorrow.

Thanks, Vanessa!