Just when we thought we’re free from all the feelings Sugarfree once gave us, rock musical Sa Wakas is back for another run this month.
Directed by Andrei Pamintuan, it tells the bittersweet love story of Topper (Pepe Herrera and Vic Robinson) and his fiancé Lexi (Caisa Borromeo and Cara Barredo), and what happened in between their failed relationship (spoiler: there was another woman). The story was told in an inverse chronology, which adds to that level of mystery and constant queries of what happened in the past that drove them to that point of their relationship.
But this isn’t an ordinary “other woman” story. Accompanied by romantic and heart-wrenching tracks by Sugarfree, the play shows identifiable snippets of a relationship going downhill. Freelance photographer Topper and medical practitioner Lexi were pretty much fighting about their career differences and misaligned priorities for about 30 minutes in the show. However, it is balanced with the cute and kilig scenes of Topper and Gabbi (Justin Peña and Maronne Cruz). As much as I wanted to root for Gabbi (she works in publishing so I could relate to her sentiments), it was still difficult to watch the history of Lexi and Topper unfold. And that was a feeling that the rest of the audience of the sold-out show shared. Every time Lexi’s “I love you” went unanswered, people would gasp and laugh because… same.
The small cast brings life to the well-designed set. Pepe Herrera added a touch of fun and quirk to an otherwise eyeroll-inducing Topper (nobody likes a cheater, fam) and Cara Barredo’s (Lexi) pipes got the theater #shookt. Justine Peña (Gabbi), on the other hand, added that tenderness and cool to the show with her equally powerful singing chops and A+ wardrobe. Some may argue that the real stars of the show were the Chuwariwaps. They’re the conscience, the shadows that pop up when you least expect it, and the comedic relief when things get really awkward.
What makes Sa Wakas worth watching is the experience of seeing familiar scenarios from our personal relationships set to Sugarfree (arranged for the stage by Ejay Yatco). I remember sitting behind a couple during the show. They’d sit closer and closer the more Topper fell in love with Gabbi, and they’d tease each other whenever Topper and Lexi would fight. I may not know what they’re going through as a couple, but I do know that the show affected them in a way.
Somehow, the show brings back all the memories we had listening to Sugarfree’s discography; that first kiss, first fight, and first love. Nobody likes being reminded of breakups, but Sa Wakas shows that there was something good that came from it, and that something is still worth remembering.