September 2, 2023

RAMA, HARI, all set for September 15, 16, 22 and 23

RAMA, HARI, the highly-acclaimed Filipino rock opera ballet, returns to the stage this September. The production holds the prestige of being the only collaboration that features the masterful works of five National Artists, Alice Reyes for Direction and Choreography, Ryan Cayabyab for Music, Salvador Bernal for Production Design, and Bienvenido Lumbera for the lyrics and libretto with English Translations by Rolando Tinio. Presented by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, in partnership with the Metropolitan Theater, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and with the generous support of Birch Tree Adult Boost, the production features artists from CCP’s Professional Artist Support Program and Alice Reyes Dance Philippines with performances running at the Metropolitan Theater on September 15-16, and at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater, September 22-23, 2023.

Inspired by the ancient Sanskrit epic, Ramayana, the ballet tells of the adventures of Rama, prince and incarnation of the god Vishnu, who comes down to earth to save the world from Ravana, the most powerful of demons and in time falls in love with Sita, daughter of the king of Mithila, Janaka, and eventually marries her. The evil Ravana attempts to tear the two apart only to find himself defeated and his demonic plans thwarted.

Quite coincidentally, in the late 70s and early 80s a new musical genre was born, referred to as OPM, or Original Pilipino Music; and herein lies the uniqueness in the adaptation of the legend having the distinction of being the first OPM music and dance theater masterpiece.

Alice Reyes took the challenge of weaving the dancers and singers within the music score, instead of separating them, creating a wholistic staging. Reyes uses diverse elements derived from Asian theater such as the shadow play, various hand props, and Indian movements transposed to choreography in the modern dance genre.

The music of Ryan Cayabyab is an intermingling of various Southeast Asian musical influences rather than South Asian (Indian) with a dash of Western influence as heard in the monkey chant. The mixed influences of his music altogether “ Filipinized the score,” as he refers to his work as an “ eclectic piece,” a style that has eventually become his musical signature.
National Artists - Alice Reyes and Ryan Cayabyab

Complementing the music is the libretto of Bienvenido Lumbera, whose script has varying levels: an elevated diction for the protagonist and Filipino slang for the demons. The theatrical reason being that “the intrusion of a very contemporary diction could jar the audience into perceiving that the ancient epic of India is also “now” and “Filipino.”’ An English translation projected during the performance is the work of Rolando Tinio.

Salvador Bernal’s set designs further outline his stylized ornamented Oriental costumes.

RAMA, HARI was last re-staged in 2012 and won 14 Philstage Gawad Buhay Awards. It was intended to be re-staged once more in 2020 but was canceled due to the pandemic lockdown. This year, the long-awaited re-staging of RAMA, HARI will open in September with excited expectations.

This year, the creative team searched for new talents to join the cast and take on some of the production’s iconic singing roles.

The cast includes musical theater star, Arman Ferrer in the lead role of Rama with Vien King alternating. They will perform alongside dancers Ronelson Yadao and Ejay Arisola.
Arman Ferrer and Vien King as Rama

Karylle Tatlonghari, Shiela Valderrama-Martinez, and fresh-face talent Nica Tupas alternate in the role of Rama’s beloved wife, Sita, with dance counterparts, Monica Gana, and Katrene San Miguel.
Karylle, Shiela Valderama-Martinez and Nica Tupas as Sita

Rak of Aegis Star, Poppert Bernadas, takes on the role of the demon King Ravana, alternating with Los Angeles-based musical theater actor Mathew San Jose making his Manila debut, and Jonel Mojica. Dancing the role are Richardson Yadao and Tim Cabrera.
Poppert Bernadas, Mathew San Jose and Jonel Mojica as King Ravana

Theater icon Audie Gemora takes on the role of King Dasaratha. Also joining the cast are Katrine Sunga and Maron Rozelle Mabana in the dual role of King Dasaratha's Third Wife, Kaikeyi, and the Golden Doe, while Miah Canton, and Raflesia Bravo take on the dual role of Kaikeyi's evil adviser, Kooni, and Ravana's demon sister Soorpanakha.

Paw Castillo and Jon Abella do double duty as Monkey Army General, Hanuman, and Rama’s brother Lakshmana.

The showing of this grand epic is a timely presentation for the first show of ARDP after its celebration of its first anniversary last July 23. Starting with a press conference hosted by a heritage restaurant, Milky Way, which opened its doors in 1950 serving memorable dishes that have been relished by at least three generations of Filipinos. Keeping with the theme of RAMA, HARI, an Indian legend, Kashmir Restaurant, established in 1975, will also be coming on as a sponsor. Kashmir is now owned by Leon Araneta, son of Gemma Cruz Araneta, the country’s first Miss International in 1964. Both Ms. Araneta and Ms. Reyes were classmates at Maryknoll College where both are honored as Outstanding Alumnae.
Altogether, RAMA, HARI is indeed a celebration on many levels and truly an extreme reason for not missing the show.

RAMA, HARI is presented by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, in partnership with the Metropolitan Theater, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and with the generous support of Birch Tree Adult Boost. It features the artists of Alice Reyes Dance Philippines (ARDP) and the CCP’s Professional Artist Support Program (PASP), with dance trainees from Guang Ming College, Philippine High School for the Arts, De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, and other independent performers.

September 15, 2023 | Friday | 7:30 PM | Metropolitan Theater*
September 16, 2023 | Saturday | 2:00 PM | Metropolitan Theater
September 16, 2023 | Saturday | 7:30 PM | Metropolitan Theater*

September 22, 2023 | Friday | 7:30 PM | Samsung Performing Arts Theater*
September 23, 2023 | Saturday | 2:00 PM | Samsung Performing Arts Theater
September 23, 2023 | Saturday | 7:30 PM | Samsung Performing Arts Theater**

*With live music performed by The Orchestra of the Filipino Youth
**Evening Performance Sponsored by Samsung Electronics Philippines Corp.

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