By Colin Tupaz
Piaf is Amador; Amador is Piaf.
Manila, Philippines, March 23, 2013 -- "Piaf," which closed at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium today, is a "dramedy" based on the life and career of legendary French singer Edith Gassion, known as Edith Piaf (1915-1963), who despite of her worldwide following still longed for true love and happiness.
Directed by Bobby Garcia, Atlantis Productions' artistic director, "Piaf" is the reworked version of British playwright Pam Gems' original 1978 play of the same name.
For us, this latest local production of the play (veteran stage actress Joy Virata also portrayed the title role in "Piaf" many years ago) has set a new standard in live performance with Pinky Amador, original "Miss Saigon" London cast alum, as the iconic La Môme Piaf; she hypnotized, charmed her audience with her voice flooded with emotions. We genuinely felt Amador's character arc and development -- from being a naïve, starving artist to being a sensational star at the peak of her career (even during her character's battle with cancer) -- emitting radiant power that did not devalue at any instance. Amador's acting was outstanding; her take on Piaf's timeless songs was so powerful, which brought tears to our eyes, especially during her solo numbers "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien," "Hymne A L'Amour," and of course, Piaf's signature song, "La Vie en rose."
As audience members, we were engulfed by Amador's stellar performance, exuding so much love, pain, and sorrow, even if there were no English translations of the French lyrics. She was graceful, elegant, and persuasive.
In addition, the full cast were complementing one another; it was remarkable that every cast member had to play multiple roles, changing into different costumes right there on the stage; moving tables and chairs every now and then, which contributed to a fast-paced show.
Accordionist Sam Lombardo, playing a couple of instrumental French music prior to the start of the play, helped set the appropriate "Parisian" mood for the nearly packed house.
Kudos to director Garcia; he made sure that this theatrical piece was easy to understand with every scene properly executed.
Gems' inclusion of Piaf's lifetime friendship with one-time prostitute Toine, played by Ima Castro, another "Miss Saigon" alum, was a breath of fresh air from Piaf's life on alcohol, drugs, men, and more men.
Photo by Manman Angsico