Truth hurts: 'Sa Wakas' rock musical appeals to new generation
Lovers can't help but love. Cheating can't help but hurt. And good people can't help but hope. It's the same for every generation.
Sa Wakas, the musical based on the songs of iconic Gen X rock band Sugarfree that premiered in 2013, returns to the stage. And it is finding resonance among a millennial audience who are adulting into moving out, living in, and loving on the sly.
At the restaging of Sa Wakas at the Power Mac Center Spotlight Theater at Circuit Makati last January 13, on press night, Gen Y youths filled the seats and listened to their elder siblings' music – hits songs such as “Mariposa”, “Telepono”, “Tulog Na”, “Dear Kuya”, and “Hari Ng Sablay”, to name a few – while seeing themselves in the characters and their own lives told by the story.
Something borrowed, something new
This current run of Sa Wakas – lasting until February 5 – once again features Vic Robinson, Caisa Borromeo, and Justine Peña reprising their roles as photographer Topper, brain surgeon and Topper's girlfriend Lexi, and lifestyle magazine journalist and Topper's lover Gabbi, respectively.
This restaging also stars Pepe Herrera, Cara Barredo, and Maronne Cruz, alternating as Topper, Lexi, and Gabbi, respectively. The ensemble includes Abi Sulit, Laui Guico, Moira Lozada, and Hans Dimayuga, who also plays Topper's elder brother working overseas.
Sa Wakas: The Musical, co-written by Andrei Nikolai Pamintuan and Mariane Abuan with musical arrangement by Ejay Yatco, was created and produced by Charissa Pammit. It premiered as part of the Manila Fringe Festival in 2013 and is re-staged as part of this year's Fringe Festival.
Bitter and sweet
Sa Wakas, Tagalog for “finally”, is taken from the debut album title of Sugarfree. It also alludes to the emotionally satisfying ending that Filipino drama movies promise to deliver. It is no accident that the sophomore album of Sugarfree that further expounds themes of heartache is named Dramachine.
Some people crave for the formulaic stories of Philippine romance movies – where a woman's boundless ability to forgive allows a happy ending and where the leading man's infidelity is made more sympathetic and inevitable by circumstance – because they offer a glamorized fantasy.
Some people hate these romance clichés because that's not how real life is. Most often there is no climactic event that conveniently reunites former loves for explanation and redemption. Most often wrongs can never be forgotten and things can never go back to the way things were. And most often people part ways with unresolved bitterness and spite.
Today's generation demand raw authenticity and verisimilitude to real life. But few, if any, will have any empathy for a main character who is a cheater and will not be satisfied with a bitter and spiteful end that resolves nothing.
In Sa Wakas, Topper, the protagonist, is an inexcusable jerk, as is often the case with guys who cheat. The reasons he gives don't make his wrongdoing any less acceptable. That makes the story all the more truthful. At the same time, the genuine chemistry between lead actors such as Robinson, Borromeo, and Peña make it truly convincing that love can divide a heart.
Sa Wakas achieves both lyricism and realism by not only standing melodramatic conventions in their heads but by also reversing the chronology of events. It tells the story of Topper, Lexi, and Gabbi by first showing the outcome and then working backwards to the day they all first met.
This reverse storytelling, something theater lovers can recognize in the musical The Last Five Years and something music lovers will recognize in the music video of Coldplay's “The Scientist” – allows audiences to gradually unravel the reasons why things happened, like a scientist. The appeal is in discovering why, not in deducing what will happen.
The backward narrative allows the musical to end filled with the hope of a young couple moving into a new home. That audiences possess prior knowledge of the impending betrayal makes the moment all the more poignant and heartbreaking. Telling the story of infidelity in reverse allows for a poetic and lyrical story without having to compromise reality.
Unlike other musicals that seem like poor excuses to sing old hits for nostalgic fans, Sa Wakas has a truthful story that audiences of every generation can testify to as honest. The songs and the story fit concisely.
Robinson, Borromeo, and Peña's heartbreaking performances offer fully fleshed out characters that both millennials and Gen Xers – and anyone who has hurt and been hurt – can identify as themselves. That was us on stage. – Rappler.com
For tickets, visit http://www.sawakasmusical.com
Writer, graphic designer, and business owner Rome Jorge is passionate about the arts. Formerly the editor-in-chief of asianTraveler Magazine, lifestyle editor of The Manila Times, and cover story writer for MEGA and Lifestyle Asia Magazines, Rome Jorge has also covered terror attacks, military mutinies, and mass demonstrations as well as reproductive health, gender equality, climate change, HIV/AIDS and other important issues. He is also the proprietor of Strawberry Jams Music Studio.