By Dale Bacar
Manila, Philippines, November 18, 2012 - Repertory Philippines' latest offering, Disney's "Camp Rock," is a stage adaptation of the popular Disney TV movie, which starred The Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato. As expected, "Camp Rock" is a lightweight romantic comedy targeted at teens and those that want to relive the happiness of their innocent youth.
There is one problem, though: For a musical featuring more than 30 teens dancing and jumping around the stage for almost two hours, "Camp Rock" was almost completely devoid of youth and energy. Much of the acting on stage was awkward and forced. We could not possibly lay the blame on the kids, mostly theater newbies, on that stage - we could see every bit of effort that the young actors were putting in. The problem was that there was no "magic" in the performance.
Markki Stroem (Shane Gray) and Morissette Amon (Mitchie Torres) were ineffective lead actors; both channelled subpar soap opera-ish performance during the press preview.
Jef Flores (Jason Gray) and his lackeys looked like they were trying too hard; and some teens in the ensemble were too raw to be opening a professional musical theater production.
It was not all bad, however. Nacho Tambunting (Nate Gray) proved to be the star of the show by providing a rich performance that outshined most of his co-stars. His acting was innocent, honest, and lovable; he visibly captured the audience whenever the scene was focused on him. More seasoned thespians Cheska Ortega (Tess Tyler), Nel Gomez (Luke Williams), Justine Peña (Dana Turner), and Cara Barredo (Caitlin Geller) also gave the professional level of theater acting that we have been accustomed to see in a production by Repertory Philippines.
All in all, "Camp Rock" could have used a little more fine tuning, and stronger performances from Stroem and Amon, which we think would be enough to carry the show. As it stands, it would probably take a few more performances for Stroem and Amon to develop a palpable on-stage chemistry to make the production resonate with the distinct brand of quality that is identifiably Repertory Philippines.
Photo by JR Sala