MISS SAIGON original London cast alumna Isay Alvarez plays the iconic role of Katy dela Cruz, the queen of Philippine vaudeville, in Spotlight Artists Centre's revival production of KATY (photo by MJ Suayan)
Manila, Philippines, January 22, 2013 -- Members of the press that attended the preview performance of the much-anticipated revival production of Ryan Cayabyab and Jose Javier Reyes's landmark musical "Katy" at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on Wednesday last week felt the production was far from technically perfect. Nevertheless, this Spotlight Artists Centre's take on the beloved original Filipino musical, based on the life and times of bodabil queen Katy dela Cruz, directed by the show's original director, Nestor U. Torre, opened last weekend, and was rewarded with extended standing ovations from the audience.
Spotlight Artists Centre's "Katy," whose remaining performances (Jan. 24-27) are sold out, features Isay Alvarez (Katy dela Cruz), Gian Magdangal (Jose "Peping" Yoingco), Dulce (Olivia), Tirso Cruz III (Juan dela Cruz), Epy Quizon (Golay/Dolphy Quizon), and Aicelle Santos (young Katy dela Cruz), among others.
Below, BroadwayWorld brings you a review roundup:
Vladimir Bunoan, Abs-CbnNews.com: Inspired performances, particularly from Isay Alvarez and Tirso Cruz III, helped lift the restaging of the original Filipino musical, "Katy," which had a shaky start at its press preview last Wednesday at the Little Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Nearly 25 years since its debut at the now defunct Rizal Theater in Makati in November 1988, the musical, created by composer Ryan Cayabyab and librettist Jose Javier Reyes, lived up to its reputation as among the finest original Filipino musicals ever written.
Reyes' book stayed with the primary aim of telling the story of bodabil star Katy dela Cruz, while providing choiced glimpses of that particular era and art form, as well as some of the personalities, including a young Mary Walter, then a sexy Hawaiian dancer; a young Dolphy; and a very young Gloria Romero...
Nestor Torre may have directed the original staging of "Katy," but this time around, in a new venue that has several technical limitations, the overall direction was largely unimaginative, with slow scene changes -- including one that lasted for what seemed like minutes with absolutely nothing happening onstage, not even music -- and way too many blackouts that broke up the flow of the musical. This was made even more glaring because of Reyes' crisp writing. The individual scenes are so tightly written that these numerous blackouts literally stop whatever momentum had been built.
The production numbers do soar, with the AMP Big Band providing an authentic jazz feel, aided by some energetic choreography, but the scenes don't move seamlessly to the next as one would expect -- especially 25 years after the original.
Ibarra C. Mateo, GmaNetwork.com: Torre's January 2013 staging of "Katy" may elicit thoughtful debate among critics, notably for its remarkably sparse set design and frequent, and almost eternal scene changes, which tend to derail the spiraling momentum. The CCP's Little Theater (Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino) has its own technical limitations. Similarly, funds for artistic productions are hard to find these days.
In spite of these unavoidable production hitches, it must be declared that the return of "Katy" on stage to mark the production's silver anniversary is another milestone in the musical's garland of achievements.
Its executive producers, namely Robert Seña, his wife Alvarez, Jimenez, and Carl Balita, gave Filipinos young and old another extraordinary chance to savor the enormous and exhilarating combination of the rare gifts of librettist Reyes and musician Cayabyab. One could only wish that the songs and music of "Katy" would be available in compact disc.
Alvarez, Dulce, and Cruz III more than displayed their natural musicality and vocal prowess, earning them repeated shouts of bravos and loud applause, almost every time they ended their song numbers.