New show celebrates Pinoy Christmas

IT’s the time of the year when reunions are celebrated with friends and loved ones, and Alice Reyes Dance Philippines (ARDP) showcases just that in its holiday show, Puso ng Pasko.

It was in the middle of the afternoon when BusinessWorld dropped by ARDP’s open rehearsals on Nov. 22, and the dancers were practicing a routine set to the song “Tuloy na Tuloy Pa Rin ang Pasko,” presented as a get-together when friends and family dine and reconnect.

“I’m sure of two things: that Christmas is coming no matter what, and that Filipinos are ready to celebrate,” National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes told BusinessWorld.

Puso ng Pasko will have performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’Main Theaterfrom Dec. 2 to 4.

The show is an expanded version of the 2020 holiday showcase Tuloy ang Pasko.

“The title of Tuloy ang Pasko came about kasi kailangan matuloy ang pasko (because Christmas just had to push through) amid the pandemic,” ARDP artistic director and choreographer Ronelson Yadao told BusinessWorld. “Fast forward to today, [the show was named] Puso ng Pasko to move [forward] from [previous] the notion,”

The production was originally supposed to incorporate disco songs, but since Ms. Reyes has had a good working relationship with fellow National Artist (for Music) Ryan Cayabyab, the repertoire shifted to holiday music.

The show features Mr. Cayabyab’s arrangements of timeless Filipino Christmas songs from the albums Pasko I and Pasko II, performed and recorded by the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra and the San Miguel Master Chorale. The production will feature 14 songs from the two albums.

Mr. Yadao is choreographing the full-length Christmas dance show with Erl Sorilla, John Ababon, Al Abraham, Dan Dayo, Bonnie Guerrero, and Lester Reguindin.

A PINOY CHRISTMASThe story follows Lolo Val (played by musical theater veteran Audie Gemora), an immigrant living in California, who wishes to relive the Christmas of his youth. He reminisces through the stories he shares with his young granddaughter, Angelita.

It was during the lockdown that the choreographers gathered at Ms. Reyes’ home and conceptualized the story for the show.

“We were trying to find a situation wherein we had to look back. We thought that a Filipino immigrant who is missing Christmas in the Philippines would be good storyline,” Mr. Yadao said. “And, true enough, many audiences related [to that idea] during the last Tuloy ang Pasko performances. Kahit siguro hindi pandemic, maraming makaka-relate (Even if it were not during a pandemic, many people could relate to it).”

“For years we have been doing The Nutcracker [for Christmas] and it an international thing, it is done everywhere. But I thought, why not a Filipino Christmas show that we will get a lot of positive reaction [to] so we can do it every year?,” Ms. Reyes said.

The show features scenes of the traditional Simbang Gabi — a nine-day series of early morning masses — with churchgoers eating bibingkaand putobumbong (rice flour-based snacks)in the churchplaza decorated with the big parol (star-shaped lanterns) and beautiful Christmas decorations. It also features different fiestas held across the Philippine islands in celebration of regional festivals.

The expanded version of the show will run for one hour without intermission, as compared to its early iteration that ran for half an hour.

Other collaborators include co-librettist Eljay Castro Deldoc, production designer Eric Cruz, lighting designer Barbara Tan-Tiongco, costume consultant Dennis Maristany, and director Carlos Siguion-Reyna’s assistance for filmed scenes.

“We hope that with our first season here with the ARDP, we have shown what this company can do…” Ms. Reyes said. “We are very focused on doing shows that are designed to show the Filipino people that they have plenty to be proud of.”

For tickets, contact the CCP Box Office (8832-3704), Bonnie Guerrero (Viber: 0915-412-2152), and TicketWorld (0917-550-6997, 0999-954-5922). — Michelle Anne P. Soliman