Politics and musical theater seem like a strange mix, but it works. When Hamilton graced the stage, we were ready for it. The musical chronicled the life story of one of the founding fathers of the United States, as it recounted his struggles to rise above challenges and life’s difficulties, propelled by his passion and belief for freedom. The patriotism and diversity were infectious, and I remember being curious as to how many local pioneers’ stories would benefit from having their lives laid out on stage.
A musical with a dash of activism? Yes please. Fortunately, we are now being offered a similar experience by Tanghalang Pilipino with their latest musical, Balag at Angud, based on the life of protest installation artist Junyee.
Written by Palanca Award-winner Layeta Bucoy, the musical starts in the early adulthood of Filipino visual artist Luis Yee, Jr., most commonly known as Junyee. At 17, he was full of ideas not fully realized — when you know something is there, but you gotta wait and see what happens. It then narrates the beginning of his conviction for the arts driven by his passion to enlighten people through his work. Like a true struggling artist, complications and opportunities arise as he tries to find his purpose and footing, often fumbling with the lack of support, but always finding inspiration in between.
Junyee’s story is something of perseverance and integrity, qualities duly needed by our country. It is also a love story — a relationship between the artist and his art, almost treating it like a breathing thing, aware of the changes and differences it can inspire. It shows his passion towards something he truly cares about, and it reflects on how we all should follow our principles despite odds stacked against us. Like Hamilton, he kept going.
The musical is directed by theater veteran Audie Gemora, whose work includes starring in El Fili (1991) and Noli (1993). It includes a stellar cast led by Rody Vera and features music from Dodjie Fernandez of Patatag. The musical will open on Aug. 31 and will run until Sep. 16 at the CCP Little Theater.
“The Filipino should be patronized,” says director Audie Gemora, and it’s not only true but necessary, especially in these current times when inspiration and engagement are more vital than ever. And since it’s an original musical, you’ll get to see theater magic from its beginning.
For more information on show dates and ticket reservations, visit Tanghalang Pilipino’s website. Tickets are also available at Ticketworld online.