TP’s Season Opener Impressively Seditious

Define “seditious”?
According to the reliable Merriam-Webster dictionary…it means inciting or causing people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.

That is the clear cut premise of Tanghalang Pilipino’s 31st Season opener, Professor Nicanor Tiongson’s “Auelio Sedisyoso” a Rock Sarswela, playing at the Little Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines until September 17.

I can still recall a few months ago when this production was in the raw of preparations that included an intimate script- reading session open to the public. The same Artistic Team went on board headed by director Sir Chris Millado, coming off fresh from the highly-acclaimed super polished and refined repeat of “Mabining Mandirigma” featuring Ms. Liesl Batucan in the lead. And how she incredibly nailed it until the end!

The script by Prof Tiongson underwent meticulous revisions trying to include all the juiciest information possible on the colorful yet controversial life of Aurelio Tolentino who’s name and reputation was not music to the ears of the Americans in that particular period in Philippine history. His expertise in historical biographies is truly unwavering.


I was also excited how Musical Director Joed Balsamo would come up with his patriotic yet vocally challenging compositions. I learned from Maetro Joed himself that Sedisyoso was supposed to have a lot of songs than that of Mabining Mandirigma and this time what stands out are ensemble songs.

Promotions for Aurelio Sedisyoso got even more hyped with the surprising inclusion of an award-winning actor in the person of Baron Geisler, tasked to play the role of Tikbalang, an allegorical character, a shape-shifter that takes on the different faces and phases of American colonization.

Sedisyoso also marks Baron’s very first venture into theater after his many years in film and television. Everybody was wondering is he really ready to plunge into theater’s demanding LIVE performances? This is where I put on my give-the-benefit-of-the-doubt hat and let’s give him a genuine chance of proving something to himself and the prestigious theater community as a whole.


I was delighted when the lead role went to a good theater friend in David Ezra, who’s memorable role of Emilio Aguinaldo in Mandirigma is still on top of the list for me. Although opera is his forte, David has this impressive flair of dishing out rock solid and vocally challenging and straining numbers. This makes his famous and iconic mom, Ms. Dulce, truly proud!

Meeting former Rivermaya band co-vocalist Norby David for the first time was an extra sweet treat him having crossed over to theater as well. Aurelio marks his third stage production. I also liked his accoustic guitar duet with David.

And the rap duel scenes were entertaining and gives us a touch of modernism on a historically-based plot.

Majority of the cast in this production are very familiar to me and my awesome theater friends too! Watching such works become extra interesting when you are familiar with its actors thus cheering them on truly results to a more meaningful experience for them as performers.

When I saw Jonathan Tadioan’s version of Tikbalang during opening night, I had no tinge of doubt he would falter or commit an obvious mistake because based on his impressive roles done in the past, I was super confident, this character was a breeze for Tad. I am an eternal fan!


If you haven’t seen this rock sarswela yet, please, please I encourage you to do so. You will be amazed and be entertained on how cast member Sasa Cabalquinto makes all her stage appearances truly felt! She’s a gifted ace dancer to begin with and has a cute sense of humour in one partcular scene involving her, David, Baron, Kakki Teodoro (as Tolentino’s 2nd wife Natividad) with Aurelio’s children Didoy,Corazon and Onsing (remarkably performed by Phi Palmos).

Technical concerns on the lapel microphones were obvious on the first show during opening weekend which was duplicated on its 2nd week. That is something understandable in theater acts but expected it could be restrained towards the remaining shows until closing.

I guess I could award production designer Toym Imao and his genius on how he was able to invert the usual Little Theater stage to be half audience and half performing area which drew us spectators much closer to the theater artists. Impressive on the transformation of the default audience padded seats section bedecked with scaffoldings and an inclined plank (that reminded me of another rock sensation prod of Jesus Christ Superstar) and miniature lanterns.

Costume wise, I miss James Reyes’ genuinely classy steam punk wardrobes and accesories donned during the Mabini run and re-runs.
But I do appreciate how he still presented the cult-like and earthly brown hues and retained the red white and blue and star spangled stateside colonialism impression of the Uncle Sam period.

Kudos to the mastered lighting of Sir Katsch Catoy and his team which complimented GA Fallarme’s resplendent high quality projection design. And Ms Denia Reyes’ superb choreography never fails to impress.
I believe theater neophyte Baron got quite nervous on some of his scenes opposite more seasoned actors but despite that, he still managed to pull through with all his might and heart especially on his song numbers. One could not help but compare his make up and hair to that of Heath Ledger’s version of The Joker. For me he stands out on the beauty pageant portion and his punchlines were just right on time. It was so cool for the rest of the cast and ensemble to really rally behind Baron and make him feel that performing on the Tanghalang Pilipino stage is a remarkable stepping stone to a promising theater career should he decide to accept dramatic roles. Congrats BG!

Bravo and clap clap to the cast and ensemble:
David Ezra, Baron Geisler, Jonathan Tadioan, JV Ibesate, Aldo Vencilao, Blanche Buhia, Joshua Tayco, Eunice Pacia and Monique Nellas, as well as Remus Villanueva, Hazel Maranan, Kakki Teodoro, Norby David (former co-vocalist of Rivermaya), Jing Reyna-Jorge (former vocalist and violinist of Sugar Hiccup), Paw Castillo, Phi Palmos, Alfritz Blanche, Tope Kliatchko, Ali Santos, Sigrid Balbas, Aika Zabala, Sasa Cabalquinto, Raflesia Bravo, Jasper Cabra, and Lian Silverio,

Directed by CCP Vice President and Artistic Director Chris Millado with Book and Lyrics by Dr. Nicanor Tiongson and Music by Joed Balsamo. Completing the rest of the artistic team are Denisa Reyes for Choreography, Toym Imao for Set Design, Katsch Catoy for Lighting Design, James Reyes on Costume Design, GA Fallarme for Projection Design, and TJ Ramos for Sound Design, with Barbie Tan-Tiongco for Technical Direction. Francis de Veyra of Radioactive Sago completes the team as its Musical Arranger.

Remaining shows:
September 16 – 3pm & 8pm
September 17 – 3pm (SOLD OUT)

Tickets thru Ticketworld or call Tanghalang Pilipino at 02 8321125 local 1620 or 1621.

Photo Credit: Tanghalang Pilipino Facebook Page except for the Curtain Call photo.

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Hear Ye! Open Auditions From Tanghalang Pilipino

Calling all local Filipino actors out there…Please read on! Break a leg and see you at the Theater!

#AurelioSedisyoso#TanghalangPilipino#UtakPusoBayan

November 2017
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