Launch of Samsung Performing Arts Theater marks the return of live performances
There is a new theater for the performing arts in Metro Manila. Located at Circuit Makati, the Samsung Performing Arts Theater is a 1,500-seat theater launched on July 14. It is a truly impressive theatre, built to the latest international specifications and with plenty of facilities for the performers on stage and the audience. More than any of these physical attributes, it is what this theater represents, in a post-pandemic Philippines, that generated so much excitement to attend the launch party.
If for us, the audience, it was an exciting bugle call that the live show would once again be part of our cultural program, imagine how the performers felt on stage. Whether you are a theater actor, ballet dancer, musical theater or opera singer, conductor and/or musician or stagehand, the past two and a half years have been a painful and lonely journey of abstinence and frustration. . You spend years honing your craft and with one stroke of Covid you’re forced to go online and give up the immediacy of performing live, interacting with an audience and just feeling like your dreams and your aspirations come true.
Almost everyone in the performing arts community was present at the launch, including National Artist Alice Reyes, Irene Marcos-Araneta, Alex Cortez, Mindy Perez-Rubio, Joy Virata, Liesl Batucan-del Rosario, Anton Juan , Robbie Guevara and Audie Gemora.
And to show just how far Ayala Land is taking this revival of live performance and culture through the theater launch, no less than Ayala Corporation Chairman and CEO Fernando Zobel de Ayala took to the stage to welcome the guests. Her sister Sofia Zobel-Elizalde is the real cheerleader behind this project. Both formal and intimate, his welcoming remarks set the stage for the showcase of a show titled welcome to the house.
Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Bituin Escalante and Sheila Valderrama-Martinez opened the number with aplomb. My personal highlights would include clips from the upcoming musical Mula Sa Buwan, and Rachelle Gerodias-Park, with her uncredited husband singing from the audience, which initially made us wonder where her disembodied voice came from. The Nutcracker extract performed by the Steps Dance Studio accompanied them by the Mandaluyong Children’s Choir.
Mula Sa Buwan is an adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac de Rostand but transposed to Manila in the 1940s. It was successful during the pre-pandemic Ateneo and is now part of the festivities surrounding the 75th anniversary of Franco-Philippine friendship. It will have its 2022 opening night at the Samsung Theater on August 26.
During welcome to the house, we were reminded how the launch of the Samsung Performing Arts Theater marked the return of live performances. While at times it felt like a “Please curb your enthusiasm” scenario, this repetition could easily be forgiven, as this really is the start of a new chapter in the performance, and the folks behind the theater are obviously excited. Built during the pandemic, I can imagine how there were days when they wondered when the theater would even open, or there were crowds of people seated in public. Seeing it come to fruition will no doubt be a happy relief, and something they will be shouting at the top.
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