CULTURAL POTPOURRI| Mamma Mia, the “Na Ano Lang” version

IT’S NOT often that one gets to see musical theater productions being presented in the City so I braved the rain last March 13, 2017, to watch the Indigent Children Educational Assistance (ICEA) Inc. and the Archdiocesan Commission on Prison Welfare presentation of “A Night on Broadway” featuring the songs from the worldwide sensation, Mamma Mia.

     ICEA was organized by a small group of women of a church-based organization of the St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Ma-a, Davao City, in 2003. It became a registered, non-stock and non-profit corporation headed by the businesswoman and theater arts lover, Conchita Pozon-Suarez The group’s advocacy is to support diligent students as scholars, regardless of their academic standing, from poor families and send them to schools. The ICEA scholars study at the Josefa Escoda Elementary School and the Ma-a National High School, to mention some.

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ENERGETIC dance number choreographed by director Cristopher B. Lacno

In a message to ICEA, Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio wrote: “The illiteracy among children brought about by poverty remains to be a problem not just of our beloved City but of the entire nation as well. Such predicament poses a great challenge to all of us who are concerned with the future of our young citizens, thus, utmost priority must be given in securing and harnessing their future through good education. I hope ICEA will continue to strive in pursuing its goals for the welfare of our children whom we consider the hope of our nation. I hope ICEA grows stronger as it continues to help the young individuals win the brighter future they deserve.”

     It was the idea of the music loving Conchita Pozon-Suarez to come up with a program, “A Night on Broadway.” The ICEA ladies and scholars were selected to undergo training to sing, dance and act to perform excerpts from hit Broadway musicales. The main purpose of staging such musical theater presentations was to raise the much needed funds for the ICEA scholarship program. This year’s “Night on Broadway” featuring songs from Mamma Mia is the fourth of such ICEA fund-raising presentations.

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THE CAST of ICEA’s “A Night on Broadway” at the CAP Auditorium

     Director and choreographer Cristopher B. Lacno came up with his own version of an adaptation of Mamma Mia. The soap opera-styled presentation was about Isabel, an image of what the comedian Senator Tito Sotto would describe as “na ano lang.” Isabel, gloriously portrayed by the beauty and brains, lawyer Melissa Romana Suarez, has a daughter named Angel who is engaged to be married to a handsome and fine gentleman, Andrei, the son of the widowed resort owner, Fernando. It so happens that Fernando was the first love of Isabel who deserted her and married someone else. Heartbroken, Isabel soon found out she was pregnant after the breakup. In the course of the presentation, able performers sang and danced to the popular tunes of Mamma Mia like Honey, Honey; Money, Money, Money; Thank Your for the Music; Mamma Mia; Chiquitita; Dancing Queen; Lay All Your Love on Me; Super Tsuper; Voulez-Vous; Winner Takes it All; among others.

   In the end, it was discovered that Fernando’s son, Andrei, was just adopted at birth. To add more Pinoy flavor to the story, Fernando admits to Isabel that he has always been sterile and unable to produce his heir. To who the real father of Angel is, it went unanswered. But everybody lived happily ever after the big revelation.

     It’s sad that ICEA didn’t prepare a program indicating the names of the actors and who they were portraying for me to critic on their performance. What, after three previous presentations you could not come up with a well made program including a list of your performers? The actors, especially lawyer Melissa Romana Suarez as Isabel, did well in portraying their roles to be convincing. The guy who performed as Roger is an amazing baritone. Andrei, the young fiancee, did so well in underacting (in contrast to the overeager Angel) and is blessed with a mighty voice as well.

   Thank you, lawyer Melissa Romana Suarez, for personally inviting me to watch your show. You were truly a shining star that night.

     Congratulations, to everybody for a job well done in your unceasing effort to provide the less fortunate with good education. Mabuhay kayong lahat and your advocacy in helping those in need, especially the youth!

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