What Makes the Return of ‘Mula Sa Buwan’ a Significant Celebration for Philippine Theater

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MANILA, Philippines—Without a doubt, Barefoot Theatre Collaborative‘s restaging of Pat Valera and William Elvin Manzano‘s “Mula sa Buwan” is too good for a first-time viewer. The sound of silence at the curtain-raising moment may be your favorite part of the show is a beautiful preface to the taste of exploding emotion even in its first few seconds—showing you what actual theater magic looks like.

As soon as the stage is lit up, you won’t believe that despite the play’s over three-hour length, you won’t feel like you’ve been sitting for a while.  From its heartwarming plot to its masterfully planned set and production, don’t say we didn’t warn you watching this as it will make you want to take on a journey to the moon, and here are just the few reasons why:

As the cliché goes, it takes the audience to a rollercoaster of emotions

Photographed by Kyle Venturillo

Upon watching the long-anticipated musical, it is no surprise how the play dominates the local theater scene and why it keeps on coming back to stage. If you are a sucker for love triangle tropes, this might be the most atypical plot you’ll ever get to see, and you’ll love it. The story will revolve around Cyrano, with a nose as sharp as his wit, Roxane, who has unparalleled devotion to the love of her life, and a charismatic, albeit naive Christian; who will serve you with unforgettable moments that won’t make you sit still. 

The nearly three-hour run of the show won’t be enough for you to decide on whom to root for — is it Cyrano, who has long been hiding his admiration for his childhood friend, Roxane, or is it Christian, a man with captivating beauty and charm? Not to mention, you also have to watch out, as these three main characters might not be the only ones who will get you hooked, this musical’s supporting characters haul their own stories to tell. It is so fun to witness diversity on stage brought about by these cast members.

Furthermore, the upbeat and fun opening of the play will make you anticipate a story filled solely with love and laughter, but it will make you revisit your assumptions about the show once it has ended, as you will definitely sob your way out of the theater. A personal briefing might be needed as you will experience all kinds of emotions in one sitting. It is indeed a rollercoaster ride of a show, but one you will want to rewatch over and over again. 

Lastly, don’t be troubled if you’re not a big fan of love stories, as aside from the triangle of romance between Cyrano, Roxane, and Christian, it serves a pretty relevant narrative to Filipinos, with its story unfolding with an unfortunate premise that mirrors the current political and social landscape of the country. Hence, it is unarguable that this is the perfect time to watch “Mula sa Buwan”. 

It is three-hour poetry-packed show

Photographed by Kyle Venturillo

As soon as the curtains open until the very end of the performance, your day will undoubtedly be filled by rhymes and metaphors. “Mula sa Buwan” is definitely a great re-introduction to the beauty of our mother tongue and our literature displayed at its finest, through the translations of Soc Rodrigo.

No one can resist falling in love with Cyrano as his grandiloquent and florid poems will touch your heart so deeply that you’ll mistakenly believe you’re Roxane. Imagine going to a musical theater performance solely to enjoy and celebrate the rebirth of theater play and coming away being courted by phrases that would stay in your head until you went home.

Each of Cyrano’s lines in the play was expertly crafted and executed that it echoes in the mind—not only the passion but also the pain that is inescapable to every poet’s pen. Bringing the overflowing love and pain into high sounding verses, this play will magically send you to the moon—more than you expected.

From leads to its ensemble, it’s the perfect casting

Photographed by Kyle Venturillo

After seeing the poster for “Mula sa Buwan” 2022, for someone who will watch a musical play for the first time, the only face and name that was familiar was Markki Stroem.

But the main characters that was played by Stroem and other musical veterans like Myke Salomon, Gab Pangilinan, and even the supporting characters were perfectly portrayed. Other than his powerful voice, Salomon as Cyrano really showed how selfless, intelligent, and a good leader he is. Pangilinan who reprised her role as Roxane was very angelic, her voice and how she presented the character to be soft spoken yet knows how to stand up for herself was very well planned.

The supporting characters also helped in making the lead actors shine but still captured the audience’s attention. Phi Palmos, MC Dela Cruz, Jon Abella, and Jillian Ita-as are some of the characters that stood out but everyone on the stage completes the scenes and the sound of the play in such perfect synergy that it’s a show that cannot be complete by just looking at one character.

It’s a complete music and dance spectacle

Photographed by Kyle Venturillo

The glaringly relatable stories of the characters in this classic play are not the only things that you should anticipate to bring you “the feels” and make your eyeballs glisten in amazement, the musical score, the anthems, and the choreography of every dance number will surely leave not only your physical body in awe but also your spiritual self in utopia.

This show, for sure, predominantly showcases the beauty and power of heartwarming music and appealing choreography—analogous to the unruly but digestible antics of the cadets, lovers, friends, and colegialas in the play—in touching the audiences’ tickle spot for entertainment.

An overall well-staged production

Photographed by Kyle Venturillo

Every theater enthusiast looks forward to witnessing the stage design of a play. Similar to “Hamilton’s” iconic brick wall set, “Dear Evan Hansen’s” cyberspace design, and “Kinky Boots'” shoe factory set, “Mula sa Buwan” did not fail to give its audience an impressive set design and so much more.

The design transports viewers to a variety of settings, including the bustling streets of Manila in the 1940s; a dark cold night during the war; and Rosanna’s cabaret. Ohm David did an excellent job of transforming the Samsung Arts Theater stage into this incredible location.

The incredible invention of Meliton Roxas’ light design helped to achieve the feeling that the set conveys; the set and the light design really collaborated to allow the audience to feel the characters’ emotions in the scenes. With the stage’s crumpled cloth that changes the atmosphere depending on the light and the music, as well as the realistic moon and stars, the entire set is something to look out for throughout the play. One of the reasons why everyone should see the show is because of the uniqueness of this set, which gives the audience an experience they will not forget for some time.

Theater plays were forced to close their curtains to the masses for more than two years because of the pandemic. Now that they are gracefully ascending to the physical surface again, a significant number of stories that have been and are yet to be told are already set to enliven the stage live this year.

And “Mula Sa Buwan”, which is one of the first to roll after years in distress, is another proven testimony that theater will never disappoint despite unfortunate circumstances—it will never be weakened, but rather it will dynamically grow. This is evident in this play, as it is packed with surprises and entertaining performances that are guaranteed to be worthy of your time, effort, and resources.

Written by Mike Bryan M. Agcalis, Clark Nick S. Casabuena, Allysa Mae D. Esperida, Kyneth Brian D. Magayanes, Tifany Rose P. Soringa