Mula Sa Buwan And the Unstoppable Force of Philippine Theater: A High Five Musical Review

by Matthew Escosia
SEA Wave - Mula Sa Buwan Musical Filipino 2022
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By: Jia Jarin

 

The jubilant homecoming of Philippine theater after almost three years in lockdown adds a deeply powerful effervescence to this year’s staging of Mula sa Buwan, a musical on love and defiance by Pat Valera and William Elvin Manzano (based on the timeless French play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand).

Set in 1940s Manila, Mula sa Buwan enchants you with its sincere narratives of unrequited love, dreams, heartbreak, and tragedy at the plight of war through haranas and kundimans. At the heart of this musical tale is the classic love triangle trope between hopeless romantic Cyrano, the captivating Roxane, and naive Christian.

Here is our High Five review of how this two-act musical won the hearts of wide-eyed dreamers, fools, and misfits alike.

Exuberant Ensemble

SEA Wave - Mula Sa Buwan Musical Filipino 2022

Photo from Mula Sa Buwan

Mula sa Buwan is a story within a story. Beyond the beautiful unfolding of different anecdotes throughout the musical, the cast’s warmth and intensity embodied through electric choreography, vocal fireworks, and high-energy performances are a powerful uproar about the unstoppable force of Philippine theater. Similar to how Cyrano wore his heart on his sleeve, each musical number will leave you in tears as the ensemble pours their soul into giving an emotionally impactful theatrical experience.

Intricate Dialogue

SEA Wave - Mula Sa Buwan Musical Filipino 2022

Photo from Mula Sa Buwan

The most wonderful surprise is how every single dialogue is strung seamlessly through rhythmic Filipino poetry and music which makes this tale truly stand out from all other plays. From the cadets’ banters to Cyrano’s lyrical love letters— Mula sa Buwan is a time capsule in motion that will also make you fall in love with the beauty and depth of our Filipino language.  Gone are the days when we express our affection through simple speech, “maiinggit ang bukang liwayway sa kulay mong tinataglay” should definitely be the new trend.

Show-stopping Performances of Women Characters

SEA Wave - Mula Sa Buwan Musical Filipino 2022

Photo from Mula Sa Buwan

Another delight is how Mula sa Buwan’s women characters became part of the narrative, revealing the fabric of daily life in the 1940s through the lenses of Carissa (Ericka Peralejo), Rosanna (Phi Palmos), and Roxane (Gab Pangilinan). Whether it is repressing your dreams to conform to societal norms or the internal turmoil and frustration about societal expectations, the women of Mula sa Buwan gave an immersive portrayal of what it was like to be a minority in an ever-changing city at the peak of war. On top of Phi Palmos and Gab Pangilinan’s verbal dazzle, their characters’ eloquence and dreams for a better tomorrow were beautifully reflected in “Manifesto” and “Ang Sabi Nila”.

Compelling Timelines through Set and Costume Design

SEA Wave - Mula Sa Buwan Musical Filipino 2022

Photo from Mula Sa Buwan

Every detail in Ohm David and Bonsai Cielo’s riveting set and costume design welcomes the audience to the world of Mula Sa Buwan. One particular aspect that brought the stage to life is the moving backdrops and props which greatly anchor to the “shifting times”concept that Pat Valera and William Elvin Manzano had in mind. Other than the set and costumes showcasing dances of movement and becoming symbolic interpretations of the 1940s, they also bring an atmosphere of vulnerability— a cherry-on-top to the raw and intimate performances of the ensemble.

The Bittersweet Story of Love and Hopes

SEA Wave - Mula Sa Buwan Musical Filipino 2022

Photo from Mula Sa Buwan

The musical is a candyland of metaphors that hooks you to its utterly magnetic and dreamy fairytale escape, from the downpour of Cyrano’s letters to their journey to the moon. But what makes Mula Sa Buwan so familiar and personal is its story that every human being has gone through: romance, misfortune, and the yearning to belong. In a time of uncertainty and weariness, its themes of hope and freedom resound even louder— a bold, joyful hymn to love and the heart’s deepest wishes in spite of life’s tragedies.

The Verdict

SEA Wave - Mula Sa Buwan Musical Filipino 2022

Photo from Mula Sa Buwan

Pat Valera and William Elvin Manzano’s Mula Sa Buwan takes its audience to the moon and back with 4 out of 5 waves. It’s a charming serenade escape that breaks your heart, sweeps you off your feet, and tugs your heartstrings all at the same time.

Brought by Barefoot Theatre Collaborative, Mula Sa Buwan is set to return on stage in December 2022.

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