Due to popular demand, Ang Huling El Bimbo the Musical officially started its second run at the Newport Performing Arts Theater at the Resorts World Manila, and the One Music PH team was cordially invited to their gala night on March 7th.
The original Filipino musical written by Dingdong Novenario was brought to life through the direction of Dexter Santos and musical arrangement of Myke Solomon. Together, they have expertly built the story of three college friends who have drifted apart after graduating, but are brought together 20 years later—both due to tragic events.
The opening scene reveals a body covered in newspapers, while the main characters Hector (Gian Magdangal), Emman (OJ Mariano), and Anthony (Jon Santos) are introduced through a rough, frustrated version of “Poor Man’s Grave.” The ambiguous opening causes the viewer to think “What is happening?” as the characters themselves wonder the same thing at their predicament.
But soon, bits and pieces of the puzzle are revealed, leading up to a lively and colorful flashback to their college days in UP Diliman, where the younger versions of Hector (Bibo Reyes), Emman (Boo Gabunada), and Anthony (Phi Palmos) first meet as freshmen, and later on meeting Joy (Gab Pangilinan).
The energetic first act is then abruptly doused with tragedy, as the quartet is met with an awful situation. The second act follows Joy (later played by Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo), Hector, Emman, and Anthony into adulthood as they struggle through their own unresolved personal issues and hardships.
The transition between the two storylines —past and present — is absolutely seemless, weaving the song lyrics as part of the dialogue and breathing new life to each song. Where one ought to feel joy during “With A Smile,” they would instead feel a sense of sorrow.
Compared to the show's first run in 2018, the storyline is much clearer, the dialogue more precise and a tad bit lighter, but still enough to evoke strong emotions all throughout. The 90’s nostalgia is definitely still there, with the way Solomon arranged the E-heads’ music and lyrics to fit into the story.
Perhaps what captivates the audience more than the nostalgia is the story itself — its realness with how intimate moments are broken down, to its relevance to issues being faced by society today. The way which the story reveals itself left most — if not all — in tears, as the agony felt by each character was so raw that the emotion itself breaks the fourth wall. This story could be anyone’s, only it’s accented by music by the Eraserheads.
This is what makes Ang Huling El Bimbo the Musical, produced by Full House Theater Company (FHTC) and Resorts World Manila, a brave undertaking that took four years to craft. The show’s parallel to some of the realities being faced today is a huge risk that was proven to be worth taking. RWM president Kingson Sian remarked that they have been proud advocates of Philippine theater for the past 10 years.
“We’d like to continue to produce original Filipino musicals which talks about our story, showcases our music, and our talent,” he said.
Ang Huling El Bimbo may not be a sing-along show that people would expect from most musicals, but it is a show worth seeing as a revelation of true artistry and talent. Bravo to the whole cast and crew!
Catch Ang Huling El Bimbo the Musical at the Newport Performing Arts Threater at Resort’s World Manila until April 7, 2019.
Buy your tickets here: rwmanila.com/AHEB
A Filipina born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Alyssa always has a story to tell. She is a writer by day, singer on occasion, ballerina by heart, and forever a musical theatre enthusiast. When she's not immersing herself in her Spotify playlists, you'll find her training to be a triathlete or being a full-time cool tita to her 9 nephews and nieces.