Dulce in Flower Drum Song at the MET

THEN & NOW - Norma Japitana -

Then: Aug. 15, 1990 — 20 years ago

An evening at the Met during the presentation of the popular Broadway play, The Flower Drum Song showed that the theater, with popular material can be for everyone. It was heartwarming to see acceptance for the theater demonstrated by the full audience enjoying themselves. For one thing, Flower Drum Song has a lot of things going for it. It has always been a rousing Broadway favorite with the beautiful music of Rodgers and Hammerstein now immortalized by performances of known artists like Nancy Kwan.

For this series at the Met, director Behn Cervantes also used the effective formula of popular stars mixed with theater people to entice more people to come. In the cast were Tirso Cruz III who proved himself an able stage actor as Frankie Wing and singer Dulce in her inimitable range singing the haunting song Love Look Away, to me the most beautiful song in the libretto. The role of Mei Ling was alternately played by the lovely Alana Soriano and Karlu Tan. There was the able support of the Met regulars which made the musical a joy to watch.

Dulce’s interpretation of the seamstress Helen Chao was most touching. When she went into the first strain of Love Look Away, the audience listened in rapt attention. And when she finished, she got deafening applause. She was lucky to have gotten the opportunity to sing this memorable piece and it was the song that kept ringing in people’s ears as they went home.

The last evening presentation of Flower Drum Song happened to fall on Dulce’s birthday and a surprise party was planned for her by husband Danny Cruz. Danny has been ringing up Dulce’s friends for three weeks and they were all into the secret bash. On that day, Dulce was already feeling bad since there was no indication that Danny and her friends remembered the occasion — not even flowers from him. She would drop hints which Danny would just brush off, pretending to be busy. Later, at a supposedly casually planned dinner at Café Enrique, Dulce was really surprised to find almost all their friends waiting for her.

“That was the first time I celebrated my birthday in that manner. Before, it was simply just family,” recalls Dulce.

Most members of the cast came to Dulce’s party except Pinky Marquez and Bimbo Cerrudo who had to sing at the Folk Arts for the Earthquake benefit show of OPM. Then there were Nestor Torre, Behn, Oby Castañeda and Bing Pimentel, the senator’s wife whose composition was sung by Dulce, Rico J. Puno, Tirso and his wife Lyn and Angelique Lazo, who did the interview of the celebrator. Pilita Corrales came later with Bert Marcelo who told us about the holdup in his resthouse. He then asked one of the guests, Col. Reyes, who was with Nova Villa, to give him a permit to carry a firearm.

“Just to protect my family. You know I’m a law-abiding citizen,” he told Joe Quirino who heartily agreed with him.

Café Enrique was playing all of Dulce’s songs that night, another surprise arranged by the owners and Danny.

Now: Oct. 5, 2010

The Met has not been used for a long time. Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim recently announced plans for its renovation. Dulce and Danny are no longer a couple. Dulce has a new man in her life and more children. She has two sons with Danny Cruz. Nestor and Behn are still very active in journalism and the theater. Bing wrote and produced a musical based on her husband’s life directed by Nestor. Bert and Joe died several years ago. Tirso is active on television. Pilita and Rico J. are still very active in performances here and abroad. Rico J. has been touring with The Hitmakers (Marco Sison, Rey Valera and Nonoy Zuñiga). Rico J. and The Hitmakers are now hosts of the popular noontime show Pilipinas Win na Win.











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