WITHOUT WANG²: Cats love music, too

by Nickie Wang

It’s always been a mystery tor us humans how animals think or how they process stimuli. That’s the reason why we make movies, TV series, and musicals that cast animal characters acting like humans (or the other way around). It is our own means of expressing our curiosity on how they behave.

Cats, the second longest-running musical on Broadway, defines our understanding of the nature of animals. Like humans, they also have a clan with mixed and contrasting members. The reason why this musical lasted so long is because it has a very simple story that we can easily relate to. It’s about acceptance, dispute, and victory.

The name of the characters are somehow difficult to remember, but we have to bear in mind that these are what the cats assigned to themselves when the night falls and they are no longer connected to the humans that give them cutesy monikers. There are only few characters that will leave an impression: the suave superstar cat with fur collar (Rum Tum Tugger); the black tom cat with magical powers and is recognizable for “The Conjuring Turn;” the fat cat called Old Deuteronomy; the old cat with shabby fur; and the rugged and aging feline in high heels named Grizabella.

The musical’s stage design, which resembles a junkyard, is not that grandiose considering it’s the same stage design used in every staging. The dance routines are fine, not a production number that would leave you in awe, and the music: out of 21 musical scores, only one stands out and everybody knows it—“Memory.” There rest, are easily forgotten when people leave the theater.

The heart-heavy melody, the climax of Cats, was translated in Tagalog and sang by one of the actors. It’s one of the reasons why the audience watching the musical at the CCP Main Theater cheer with pride. But of course Lea Salonga received the loudest applause because amidst heavy makeup to make her look like an aging glamorous feline, she still sounds distinct, or it is it because we are just very familiar with her voice.

By all standards, Cats is a good musical but it is not something that will arouse all your senses, you might even find yourself drowsing off in the middle of show. It lasted 21 years in London’s West End and 18 years on Broadway, that is enough reason for you to be curious about this musical.

Same old flavor

My mother, who got hospitalized recently, is an avid fan of Wowowee. She was not able to see the last episode of the noontime show when the hosts bade goodbye. Thus, when she tuned in last Saturday she wondered and asked: “Oh, why are Kris Aquino and Robin Padilla hosting Wowowee?”

I told her that it’s already a new show and it’s titled Pilipinas Win na Win. She even thought I was just kidding for she can practically tell, as an avid viewer, that the set has not changed and Pokwang, Mariel Rodriguez, and Valerie Concepcion are still part of the program.

Apart from my mother, many viewers have noticed that the presence of the former hosts in Pilipinas Win na Win is not the only recognizable resemblance to the old show, the elements of Wowowee are still there, titles changed for purposes only the network guys know.

It’s like packaging a six-year old gift with a new wrapper. The OBB looked like the guys in the graphics department tried to finish it overnight, without sleep.

Adding up to the confusion, during the pilot, Mariel and Pokwang even greeted the audience “welcome back to Wowowee.” They havent’t gotten over it yet.

We know that pilot episodes are critical so let us give the people behind Pilipinas Win na Win a chance to ponder on what kind of program they want to serve to the public. They could have taken the opportunity to treat the viewers with something new, something refreshing, or a concept that wouldn’t make people think that they just hastily came up with a program to clear all the cob webs in the old show.

We can forgive them for disorganized segments, and for the hosts not being aware of the mechanics of their games, because they are just starting. On the other hand, Pilipinas Win na Win is a win-win show for ABS-CBN. No, the sponsors that made Wowowee one of the most profitable programs on television have decided to stick it out with the Wowowee with a different title.

International guitar festival

A guitar is capable of producing the upper ranges of volume and density of sound. The intricacy of sounds that it produces makes everyone agrees that the six-string instrument is the most versatile of all.“We want to promote guitar as a classical instrument that can produce complex sounds,” says Ruben Reyes, the director of the first ever University of Sto. Tomas International Guitar Festival.

Slated on Aug. 23 to 27, the week-long festival dubbed Guitarra 2010 will be highlighted by a series of concert at the Philamlife Auditorium on U.N.  Ave., Manila at 8 p.m. Master classes and lectures are presided by international-renowned guitarists like Spain’s Agustin Castilla-Avila, and Taiwan’s Ruey Yen and Meng-feng Su. They will be joined by the country’s top classical guitar performers and lecturers including Angelito Agcaoli, Manuel Cabrera, and Joseph Miranda. Lectures will be held at the UST Conservatory of Music.

The UST Guitar Quartet and the Festival Guitar Orchestra will close the five-day celebration on Aug. 27 with a concert that will be staged at the Philamlife Auditorium as well. A little background, the UST Guitar Ensemble is one of the large ensembles of the UST Conservatory, and the department itself boasts 100 guitar students, which is considered as the biggest in the country.

Originally conceived as an avenue for guitar students to learn ensemble playing, it has since evolved as one of the finest concert ensembles in the land. Its repertoire consists of music from the Renaissance to the present, and in different combinations from duets to trios, quartets, quintets and more.

For tickets and information on lectures and classes, call UST Music office at 731-4022 and 406-1611 loc. 8246.

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