KATY - A Sentimental Hit
One of the things I missed out on in the 80's was the musical KATY staged at the Rizal Theater in 1988. It was a huge hit, considering theater back then was not as popular as it is now. The collaboration of Ryan Cayabyab (Composer) and Jose Javier Reyes (Librettist) was a tandem made in heaven. Their work created a blue print on how original pilipino musicals should be made. The music from the show became OPM classics like "Ang Entablado Ay Mundo", Pahiram Ng Kanta", "Sari-Saring Babae" and "Minsan Ang Minahal Ay Ako" which became the theme song of the theater community. That song is one of my personal favourites to date. KATY is based on the life of Katy Dela Cruz the "The Philippines' Queen of Jazz" and she was also known as the "Queen of Bodabil".
Guided by the vision of Celeste Legaspi and Girlie Rodis and the direction of Nestor Torre, Katy became one of the most memorable productions ever staged in the Philippines. The cast back then consisted of OPM legends, theater veterans and theater newbies who eventually made a mark in the international scene. Mitch Valdez as Katy, Celeste Legaspi as Olivia, Marco Sison as Peping, Bernardo Bernardo as Tatay ni Katy, the late TenTen Muñoz as the young Katy, Robert Seña as Dolphy, Pinky Marquez as Hanna San, Gigi Posadas as Mary Walter, the late Arlene Borja as Patsy, Beverly Salviejo and Lou Veloso were the main leads. What made the musical even more special then was the presence of Katy Dela Cruz herself, who flew in from the US to watch the show. She was present in almost all the shows and after every performance, she would go on stage and sing for the audience who were all thrilled to see a living legend perform live before their very eyes. We all thought that was going to be the last time KATY would be staged in the Philippines.
When news came out that KATY was going to be restaged at the CCP under the production of Spotlight Artists Centere. I told myself that I will not let go of the opportunity to watch the show which I unfortunately missed 25 years ago. The casting for the show this time would be very daunting since they had pretty big shoes to fill. The expectations for this production were high. The questions that were asked were, "could they equal or top the success of the 1988 production?". "Will the cast do justice to a sentimental hit?"
Based on the sold out shows at the CCP which led them to re-stage it in a bigger venue at the Meralco Theater last July, it is safe to say that the show was a hit. The cast was simply stellar in their performances. Isay Alvarez as Katy gave the performance of her life. She embodied the role of Mommy Kate with so much passion and dedication that everyone who witnessed her play this role will remember it for a very long time. Tirso Cruz III as Tatay was charming and endearing. Considering that I am a huge fan of "Pip", seeing him perform live on stage was a big thrill for me. He is truly a master at what he does, that is why he is considered as one of the best actors in the entertainment industry. Dulce as the tragic Olivia was mesmerising. It was a treat seeing her perform the classic "Minsan Ang Minahal Ay Ako". I was very impressed with Gian Magdangal as Peping. It takes a lot of courage to play the love of Katy's life and to be in the same scene with Isay, and I must say that Gian stood his ground and gave a performance that he can be proud of. From playing a young pianist to an ageing philandering man, Gian showed depth and range from his singing to his acting choices. Tricia Jimenez as Hanna San and Celine Beatrice Fabie as Patsy were standouts as well, their comic timing is impeccable, I couldn't get enough of them. Leana Tabunar was so adorable as the young Katy. Mang Lou Veloso was a joy to watch on stage. It was also heart warming to see Epy Quizon pay tribute to his father by playing the young Dolphy in the show. I can just imagine Mang Dolphy smiling and applauding from heaven. Aicelle Santos as the younger Katy was a revelation. From the moment she stepped on stage and opened her mouth to sing, I knew I was in for a special treat. She was so engaging, her voice was perfect for the role. Her acting choices were short of perfection, she had the inimitable quality of balancing both the dramatic and comedic parts of her character. I can't wait to see what she will be doing next.
I give my hats off to the rest of the cast who gave their heart and soul in the show, CJ Mangahis, China Cojuangco, Heidi Arima, Andy Bais, Sheng Belmonte, Poppert Bernadas, Bong Cabrera, JV Castillo, Aaron Ching, Lisa Chingcuangco, Lito Cipriano, Gimbey Dela Cruz, Enteng Evangelista, Wendell John Frando, Sheenly Gener, Neomi Gonzales, TinTin Limjap, Carlon Matobato and Allen Ryce. Bravo for a job well done. You all deserve a standing ovation
Congratulations to Mel Villena and the AMP Band for giving life to the timeless music of Mr. C. The Martinez Sisters (Cecile, TinTin & Lisa) for their choreography and Fanny Serrano for sharing your creative design talent and for giving us the audience the right feel of the era.
Mabuhay ang Teatro! Mabuhay and Original Pilipino Musicals!
Special thanks to Robert & Isay for allowing me to take photos of the show.
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