Hearing that Christopher de Leon’s (as producer) Lorenzo is to be a rock musical on stage, you expect it to be full of new things such as the audience’s secret stomping of feet to blend with the music. Having seen most plays that are simplistic in nature with the content and the acting as the main priorities, Lorenzo edged out others because of its spectacle and heavy visuals.
The artistic staff has a reason behind it. The story, two parallel lives of patron saint Lorenzo escaping from assassins and Laurence, an Overseas Filipino Worker trying to escape death because of his crime, was a heavy one. There was a need to turn it into a rock musical and splatter it with visuals that are difficult to label in a single pile. Is it a Filipino-inspired theme with Japanese patches, or a Japanese-inspired production with a Filipino character playing midst it? Or is it simply a disorganization of ideas?
For someone who is not interested with anything rock like me, the sounds and the visuals presented by the production were captivating factors for my ears and eyes. An actor, the antagonist, holding out a microphone, yelling and belting out tunes was something new. A variety of movements on stage – from contemporary dance to Japanese routines – was something new. The creative interpretation of falling snow as flower petals thrown out by Japanese maidens from a basket was something new. The genre of a rock musical itself was an experimentation on Philippine theater. The play totally had a lot of innovative ideas.
However, the weight of the plot has drawn the audience into the pit of “emotional torture” that it appeared as though it was hard to escape. Some actors tried to lighten up the somber mood by injecting comic lines, but failed to turn the table around. It started heavy and ended heavy. Watching the play was like listening to a three-hour confession of the gravest of sins that the characters have committed. Plot and story-wise, it was like vomiting blood continuously, except for the second act which I think was the best for me. The idea of using a Rashomon narration, just don’t mind the comics flashed on screen, was fantastic. It pulled St. Lorenzo Ruiz back to his human state, that maybe he murdered the Spaniard out of sheer anger. The ending was quite unsatisfactory because of lack in weight. Shouldn’t tragedies’ endings be heavier than the entire story? Death was expected but to surprise the audience more with a revelation would have been an eye candy.
Visuals-wise, Lorenzo succeeded to meet expectations and wow the audience with the style. I never liked Japanese culture, only now that I find Nippon food quite appealing to my taste buds. But more than that, the play inspired me to explore more on the outstanding storytelling of Japanese pieces.
Lorenzo is directed by Nonon Padilla with lyrics by Juan Ekis, Paul Dumol, and Joem Antonio, and music by Ryan Cayabyab. It was produced by Christopher De Leon through Green Wings Entertainment Network, Inc. in cooperation with De La Salle-College of St. Benilde School of Design and Arts, Annuale, and Vito Cruz Project.
Photos from Broadway World and Wazzup Pilipinas.