One of my regrets in 2018 was missing the maiden run of “Himala: Isang Musikal” which eventually won 8 awards in the 11th Philstage Gawad Buhay Awards (the equivalent of the Tony’s in Manila).

I finally watched it last weekend. It is the kind of show that will resonate with you in understanding the Filipino psyche and challenge the way you deal with people and your relationship with God. It’s also an inspiration for creative professionals to deliver excellence in their work and make a positive impact on the lives of people.

Thank you to 9 works theatrical and Sandbox Collective for the 2019 rerun of this awesome musical that every Filipino should watch.  It’s highly recommended. Best to watch without reading this review or any post about Himala. Buy your tickets before it is too late.

 

Ricky Lee and Vincent A. deJesus’
HIMALA: ISANG MUSIKAL
Co-presented by: The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical
Limited Engagement: September 20 until October 20, 2019
Venue: Powermac Center Spotlight in Circuit Makati.
Tickets are now available through Ticketworld Online or +632 891-9999,

Mobile: +63 956 200-4909, +63 917 554-5560
Telephone: +632 586-7105.
Facebook: The Sandbox Collective / 9 Works Theatrical
Twitter: @thesandboxco / @9wtonline
Instagram: @thesandboxco / @9wtonline
Official Hashtag: #Himala2019

 

First Things First

The musical is set in a theatre with a round setup where the audience feel that they are part of the musical play. The performance does not break the fourth wall, so you still feel safe in the comfort of your seat even if the actors are directly in front of you.

CA seats 1-3 are the best seats in the house with a good vantage point of all scenes in the play, and these are as close as you can get to Elsa’s Cupang stage. Best to sit around this area if it is your first time watching the musical.

If you are like some people who like to be in front of the action where most of the actors are facing, AA and BA to BC are good seats for you.

For those who watched it already, make sure to catch Celine Fabie as Elsa who provides a different attack on the role and a different dimension to the musical.

About Celine Fabie, soprano and longtime member of the Ryan Cayabyab Singers, is thrilled to be filling in for the role of Elsa at certain performances. A graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, Fabie is a prolific performer and writer. She was the recipient of the National Book Award and the Madrigal Gonzalez First Book Award. With over 11 years under her theatrical belt, she was most recently seen in Katy! the Musical, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Once on This Island and Jesus Christ Superstar.

For those watching it for the first time, make sure to watch Aicelle Santos, who received a Gawad Buhay Award for Outstanding Female Lead Performance in a Musical during the first run of Himala Isang Musikal.

About Aicelle Santos. Fresh from her West End debut as “Gigi” in Miss Saigon, multimedia star Aicelle Santos makes her highly anticipated comeback in the role of Elsa, for which she recently won a Philstage Gawad Buhay Award for Outstanding Female Lead Performance in a Musical. The multi-awarded singer and host holds the title of being the “First Undefeated Pop Superstar” having achieved eight straight wins in the nationwide search, Pinoy Pop Superstar. Some of her recent theater credits include Rak of Aegis, Katy! the Musical and Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, for which she received an Aliw Award and a Philstage Gawad Buhay Award for Female Featured Performance in a Musical.

About Himala: Isang Musikal. Based on the cinematic masterpiece by Ricky Lee and Ishmael Bernal, Himala or “miracle” follows the story of a young woman named Elsa who becomes a savior in the eyes of a bucolic town longing to put an end to its suffering. With music and lyrics by Vincent A. deJesus and book and lyrics by Ricky Lee, Himala broke barriers as one of the most celebrated film-to-stage adaptations in Philippine theater history.

Female Featured Performance in a Musical: Bituin Escalante
Female Lead Performance in a Musical: Aicelle Santos
Outstanding Stage Direction for a Musical: Ed Lacson Jr.
Outstanding Production of Existing Material for a Musical
Outstanding Set Design: Ed Lacson Jr.
Outstanding Costume Design: Carlo Pagunaling
Outstanding Lighting Design: Barbie Tan-Tiongco
Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Musical

 


Himala: Isang Musical

The musical started with Mama Mary appearing to Elsa as an apparition and giving her healing powers as proof of this miraculous encounter.

I loved how the musical was able to portray Filipino culture with the influence of the Church and the family’s belief system.

It gave a glimpse of what really happens in poor communities in Manila and how “entrepreneurial” persons take advantage of the gullibility of uneducated Filipinos.

Every good person starts with good intentions but, sometimes, gets destroyed by fame, greed and self-righteousness.

The narrative was anchored on the story of three childhood friends: Elsa’s Himala, Nimia’s Disco Heaven and Chayong’s love story.

The Disco heaven provided a depiction of hell on earth and why this kind of situation happens.

When one becomes popular, there is a real danger of becoming too commercialized and getting distracted from your real mission in life.

Elsa became the moral compass of the town and its savior at the end of Act I.

I was not prepared for what happened in Act II, with a disturbing ending you’ll talk about for days.

It ended with answering the question: “Do you believe in Miracles?”

Walang himala! Ang himala ay nasa puso ng tao. Nasa puso nating lahat! Tayo ang gumagawa ng himala. Tayo ang gumagawa ng mga sumpa at ng mga Diyos. Walang himala” – Elsa, Himala (1982)


Final Thoughts

This is one of the original Filipino musicals that you would rave about for years! It’s a celebration of Filipino culture—its best and worst traits—and the best of Filipino talent and originality.

This show will literally rock your life and make you appreciate performance arts in Manila. Sometimes it’s hard to watch because you see yourself in the play, which is a reflection of life in a Third World country.

I do believe in miracles and how the Holy Spirit guides us in our everyday life, manifesting His gifts in different ways. Himala challenges that belief and how people misinterpret it, showing what takes place when bad things happen to someone.

An awesome musical masterpiece that’s a gift to the new generation of Filipinos. Ang galing!

In what National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab called “a triumph of theater and music,” Himala: Isang Musikal returns to the stage this year to cap off a milestone season for both The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical as they celebrate five and ten years in the industry, respectively. With fresh, new faces and refined orchestrations that are poised to make the soundscape even more hauntingly beautiful, Himala makes its much-awaited comeback with more grit and fervor.

Ricky Lee and Vincent A. deJesus’
HIMALA: ISANG MUSIKAL
Co-presented by: The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical
Limited Engagement: September 20 until October 20, 2019
Venue: Powermac Center Spotlight in Circuit Makati.
Tickets are now available through Ticketworld Online or +632 891-9999,

Mobile: +63 956 200-4909, +63 917 554-5560
Telephone: +632 586-7105.
Facebook: The Sandbox Collective / 9 Works Theatrical
Twitter: @thesandboxco / @9wtonline
Instagram: @thesandboxco / @9wtonline
Official Hashtag: #Himala2019

 

Live an Awesome Life,
Anton
Founder, Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: We watched the media theatrical run of Himala: Isang Musical.  I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.

P.S. Please support the show buyers of Himala:  

The show runs for two hours and 30 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

 It could get crowded in the theatre restroom, so best if you go down the ground floor and use the bathroom around the corner.

There are covered and basement parking areas in Makati’s Circuit which are helpful when it rains.

Make sure to be in the venue 1 hour before the play. Parking is ₱40-50 only.