Mula Sa Buwan: A Spectacle of Filipino Music, Poetry and Unrequited Love

With its limited run at the Henry Lee Irwin Theater, “Mula Sa Buwan” is a good, solid and sincere musical play as it transforms and delivers a timeless piece of the French poet Edmond Rostand into a stage Filipino version with an adaptation by Pat Valera.

It has beyond hilarious transitions and heartwarming glow. It was played in an indie-alternative sound transposed to Zarzuela, a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes, mostly Kundiman and Harana.mula-sa-buwan

From Pat Valera’s concept, authorship, and direction together with William Elvin Manzano who co-wrote lyrics with the former and composed the original music, musical style to bear a little variation and naturalism. The adaptation certainly captured the spirit of the genre as Manzano’s libretto carries all the romance, humor, wit, passion and hope abound.

I’ve been googling “Cyrano: Isang Sarsuwela” and saw this link. 3 Things You Don’t Know About The Music of Cyrano/Mula Sa Buwan by William Elvin Manzano.

  • “Ikaw (Awit Kay Roxanne)” was written under 30 minutes
  • “Ang Sabi Nila” was a songwriting contest reject
  • Most music rehearsals were held at the UP Faculty Center

We’re lucky enough to join again Sir Toots Tolentino’s media force for the press preview of “Mula Sa Buwan” as it was indeed a highly entertaining piece of musical theater and features charming performances by main characters Nicco Manalo (Cyrano), KL Dizon (Roxane) and Edward Benosa (Christian).mula-sa-buwan-3

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“This is a culmination of the press launch that we did recently. What you’ll see is the first performance specifically for all of you,” tells director Pat Valera as he welcomes us into the story of “Mula Sa Buwan” that is based on Edmond Rostand’s play “Cyrano de Bergerac.” The play is now set in 1940s Manila, among young ROTC cadets and blushing colegialas. “With William Elvin Manzano, we develop it into something more great. It’s a musical about love and defiance.”

“Mula Sa Buwan” shows the innocence and beauty of our nation when World War II strikes, virtue, honor, and love are all tested – the young now forced to suddenly grow up as men. The story moves to a time after the war, to a field of rubble, of forgotten memories, of heroes lost in a country struggling to survive.

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Cyrano is simply the most sympathetic character, a respected captain of the ROTC, a playwright, a poet and finds himself in love with his best friend Roxane. He exhibits a real sense of frailty and strength.

Roxane is superb and desires to be romanced by elegant word and wit, in love with the handsome new comer Christian, thinking that he possesses all the quality she demands.

Christian has the genuine heart but doesn’t have the gift of words to win for his love, Roxane. Because of Cyrano’s insistence to make Roxane happy, he agrees to use Cyrano’s gift of words.

I definitely appreciate how zarzuela came alive in the musical, how the music seamlessly embodies every emotion in the story and how music heals in every specific situation and uplifts souls. Kudos to the team’s strong ensemble of artists and musicians!

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It is refreshing to see Nicco Manalo in the role having all the valiant traits with an overly pronounced nose. He provided a down-to-earth comedy as he evidently enjoy the role of Cyrano and is deeply in love not only with Roxane but with the project itself.

We’ve first watched KL Dizon three years ago in “Ang Bagong Harana” at RCBC Plaza with the Philippine Opera Company. She is undoubtedly a discovery here while the romantic pop balladeer Edward Benosa recently performed his debut concert billed as “Most Requested at Teatrino.”

Despite the director being vocal about the technical problems all throughout the play, I would still love to see it perfectly in a more audible speaking sound, balance audio from the audience perspective and a better lighting for some scenes.

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Capturing the play’s emotional dilemma at the end is a recurring theme that echoes and adapts throughout. We had to ask Nicco, KL, Edward and Sir Pat about their views with regards to the play’s ending. If they are to choose, how would they like it to end?

Nicco says “Masyado kong mahal itong play na ‘to para baguhin ko ang ending, sobra. I have waited and always wished that this play will be produced. And now it’s happening!” “Syempre sa akin, ayokong mamatay si Cyrano. Wala na nga si Christian, mawawala pa si Cyrano. It should’ve been more romantic,” exclaims KL. Edward agrees with Nicco as he avers that it’s already perfect that way. Direk Pat adds that in the original play, Cyrano de Bergerac really died and after that, it’s the end. “We added scenes after his death, it’s a bittersweet offering from the production,” the director speaks.

I hope the ending scene didn’t look like a little fantasy sequence, but for Filipino espectators like me who loves happy endings or perhaps the-not-too-tragic endings, I would love to see the characters grow into the love that the narrative has offered.

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Unrequited love is the centerfold, it sounds romantic but reality is different. We’re amazed on how Cyrano kept in contact with Roxane only through correspondence and show his love amidst the war. Seeing Cyrano’s well-written poetry in his love letters at the hands of Roxane is overwhelming, until then she realizes that these letters are from Cyrano.

It just feels devastating that you just can’t easily deal with it. The extreme emotion that breaks your heart yet well-worth all the pain is the feeling that will always be remembered here. It’s not like the movies; “Mula Sa Buwan” is a compelling love story with great performances. We are all looking forward to its rerun by next year.

IN PHOTOS: Mula Sa Buwan

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