At the beautiful Central Park

In The City That Never Sleeps
DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) - December 17, 2017 - 4:00pm

New York City definitely lives up to its nickname “The City That Never Sleeps.” Its sights like Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall and New York Harbor are brimming with activities 24/7. To borrow a line from a song of Alicia Keys, “Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothing you can’t do now you’re in New York! These streets will make you feel brand new. Big lights will inspire you. Hear it for New York, New York, New Yooork!”

My recent New York rendezvous would never be complete without watching a Broadway performance. It is a hard habit to break, having worked at the Metropolitan Theater where I would silently pray many times for my break as an actor. I had this fierce belief that I had enough grit and talent to portray Antigone or a gay Hamlet. Oftentimes, I would not be successful in the auditions but I would remain steadfast hoping that the right material would eventually come for me to be on centerstage. 

Broadway never runs out of theatrical performances. Cats, Chicago, Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, Kinky Boots, The Lion King, Miss Saigon and Waitress were playing that time. Our group (with my partner Bong, my sister Mana Fe, Arnel Dulay, Nancy Yabut, and Philip Rojas) decided to watch David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly, an adaptation of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, at Cort Theatre (138 West 48th Street).

In the streets of New York on our way to watch M. Butterfly on Broadway with my partner Bong Quintana and Philip Ababon Roxas of Asian Artists Agency

M. Butterfly revolves around the intimate relationship between a French diplomat (Rene Gallimard) and a Chinese opera singer (Song Liling). The play opens with Gallimard narrating from his prison cell in Paris the events that led to his imprisonment. He notices the opera star while attending a performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly where Song portrays the tragic heroine. He is enchanted by Song’s charm. An affair soon blossoms between them. Shocking revelations await the audience toward the end of the play when Song is discovered to be actually a man and Gallimard is imprisoned.      

The cast includes Clive Owen (Rene Gallimard), Jin Ha (Song Liling), Murray Bartlett (Pinkerton, Marc), Michael Countryman (Sharpless, Toulon, Judge), Enid Graham (Agnes), Clea Alsip (Pinup Girl, Renee), Celeste Den (Comrade Chin), Jess Fry (Dancer), Jason Garcia Ignacio (Dancer), Kristen Faith Oei (Dancer) and Scott Weber (Kurogo), among others.

Clive was handsomely rugged as the male protagonist who was betrayed by his lover’s sexual identity. His facial expressions showed a man in love and heartbroken by lies and deceptions. The geisha in me would like to come up onstage and engage the opera singer (Jin Ha) into an aria. Song Liling was the Zhang Ziyi or Fan Bingbing of the world stage that night.

 The playwright David Henry Hwang is known for his works such as plays Yellow Face, Chinglish, FOB and Golden Child, as well as Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Tarzan and Flower Drum Song (revival). The theater genius is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

In some notes on Playbill, director Julie Taymor had some reservations when she was offered to direct the play. “I felt the play that I had read, that I saw years ago… I didn’t want to do it,” she was quoted as saying. She did some research and this led to details that had yet to be uncovered when Hwang was writing the play. “Elements of that real story are shocking. Amazing,” she revealed.


ADMU class ’77 marks Ruby Jubilee

The Ateneo de Manila University Class ’77 recently celebrated its 40th Ruby Jubilee. The group is the first batch to go co-ed in an institution that had been famously an all-male bastion.

Among the notable alumni include Archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Tagle, one of three Summa Cum Laude recipients during their graduation and trusted lieutenant of Pope Francis; bank executives Alfonso Salcedo Jr., president and CEO of Security Bank and Justo Ortiz, chairman and CEO of Union Bank of the Philippines; Raul Hernandez, Philippine ambassador to South Korea; shipping luminary Tony Moraza, president and CEO of Aboitiz Power Corporation; Susan Zamora-Prado, EVP and CFO of Development Bank of the Philippines; Evelyn Tang-Uy, three-term mayor of Dipolog City who led it to receive an APEC Model City Award; Cynthia Concepcion-Baga, one of only three Papal awardees in the Philippines to receive the Cross of Honour; Marissa Fernan, VP for Visayas and Mindanao of SM Prime Holdings; Maria Agnes Angeles, former EVP of Planters Development Bank and a prominent Jaycees International figure; Lisa Guerrero Nakpil, a respected figure in art circles and expert in art investment; and Margie Logarta, who covered the Asian travel and hospitality industry for 25 years and now interviews the country’s top corporates for The Manila Times.

The homecoming, themed Return to the Hill, began with the Tribute to Ateneo Heroes on Sacred Heart Hill at 3:30 p.m., Mass at the Church of the Gesu at 4:30 p.m., Marian Procession to the high school covered courts at 5:30 p.m., program at 6.30 p.m., and dinner.

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