From Cherie to ABBA to Lav
LIVE FEED - Bibsy M. Carballo (The Philippine Star) - April 2, 2014 - 12:00am

We just love the way the country is going all directions in the entertainment industry nowadays. In the space of one week, we went to watch a one-woman straight play Full Gallop at the RCBC with Cherie Gil; then the AbbaMania musical concert, reviving the group’s songs like The Winner Takes It All, Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia, Chiquitita; and Lav Diaz’s four-hour film on madness in Norte: Hangganan ng Kasaysayan that sadly we had to miss.

It could only have been our old friend Christian Espiritu, couturier-turned-columnist who could have called our attention to the many minute details a non-fashion designer would have let pass. Without stealing the thunder from Cherie’s impeccable performance, Christian shared a moment at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum in New York when upon hearing marching sounds of heels on the marble flooring, he turned to see THE Diana Vreeland walking past him.  He confessed to wondering to this day how she would have reacted had he approached her to say, “Mrs. Vreeland, I am Christian Espiritu from the Philippines and I am a fashion designer.” Christian continued to detail Vreeland’s statement that the colorgreige which she coined is that exquisite combination of grey and beige, and so on and so forth.

Cherie put her finger right on the spot, saying that Full Gallop serves as homage not only to Vreeland, but also to all the fashion and beauty experts she has worked with over the past decades. We watched Cherie tackle the difficult role that she admitted being scared of. However, as the play continued, it became apparent that only a Cherie Gil at this stage in her life, with the many acting awards she has collected, with her foray into film production, could have done a Diana Vreeland.  And this, director-actor Bart Guingona knew only too well. The full house at the RCBC was testimony to this.

The next day found us at the Plenary Hall of the PICC on Roxas Blvd. for AbbaMania, after which the group went to Baguio Country Club, Waterfront Cebu, Dumaguete, Davao, Gensan and Solaire Grand Ballroom in Manila. Watching AbbaMania in concert, a production of Viva Live with Redstone Media Productions, is the closest thing to a true ABBA concert experience. We knew of the legendary ABBA from Sweden, just as we knew of the Beatles from the UK, a tribute band of which was also in the Philippines in January with Bootleg Beatles. The former ABBA had won the Grand Prix at the Eurovision Song Festival in the ’70s with the song Waterloo. More hits followed until the group broke up during the late ’80s. The songs have remained popular, particularly Mamma Mia which made a traditional journey from stage musical to film and is the group’s most popular number to date, with the audience automatically knowing that it would be the finale song.

AbbaMania was formed in 1998 and has journeyed all over Europe and other parts of the world. The group of four female singers and four male band members on drums, piano and guitar was a hectic two hours with no intermission. It was particularly frenzied on the part of the brunette and blonde female leads Ewa Scott and Sharon Fehlberg who would join the audience for picture-taking without missing a note from their songs. We wondered if this aspect of entertainment was something exclusive to Pinoys?   

What were our favorites? Chiquitita which came early in the show; I Have Dream with the OB Montessori Choir; I Believe in Angels; Money Money Money to a shower of chips from the Casino; Thank You for the Music; Fernando; The Winner Takes It All; and the finale Mamma Mia.

Next stop for us would have been Lav’s four-hour epic film, Norte: Hangganan ng Kasaysayan dubbed as an astonishing study of madness.  We had read up on the film, found some notes that stated: “Fabian (Sid Lucero) is a law school dropout who sees no point in continuing the morality imposed by societal conventions on a dying civilization. Fabian is Raskolnikov, Dostoyevski’s extremely handsome dilettante whose loathing towards normalcy and ethics is the spark that sets off an upheaval of another world.”

The film appears to be a treatise on the necessity of killing in order to cure the world of its illnesses. To us, Lav has always been in a class of his own. We went to the theater and were told that Norte had been pulled out, its contract with Ayala Cinemas having expired. No matter, we told ourselves, it was bound to surface in another country, perhaps in Singapore soon enough. We soon read in The STAR that it had won distribution all over Europe and the United States. But Lav had already stated he would like his films to be shown here in the Philippines. That time will come, we are certain, but it would take longer than expected. At the moment, we Filipinos are busy with the likes of 300: Rise of an Empire, Captain America and the teleseryes featuring mermaids and mermen from both ABS-CBN and GMA. 

(E-mail us your comments at bibsycarballo@yahoo.com or text 0917-8991835.)

AYALA CINEMAS CHERIE GIL CHRISTIAN ESPIRITU DIANA VREELAND FULL GALLOP MAMMA MIA NORTE WINNER TAKES IT ALL
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