2023 Philippine Theater Play Performances to Watch Out For
As the vibrant theater scene in the Philippines continues to grow, theater enthusiasts eagerly await the upcoming lineup of stage plays for 2023. From Western classics to contemporary productions, the Philippine theater offers a diverse range of performances that cater to various tastes and preferences. Whether you’re a fan of musical plays or dramatic productions, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
In this article, we will explore a list of theater plays scheduled to be performed from September to December 2023, ensuring you don’t miss out on these captivating performances.
How Theater Plays Gained Popularity in the Philippines
Theater plays are a captivating art form that combines various elements to create a unique and immersive experience for the audience. They often employ a combination of spoken dialogue, music, dance, and visual elements like sets, costumes, and lighting to convey a story or explore complex themes.
They became a popular form of entertainment in the Philippines through a combination of historical influences and the contributions of talented Filipino performers.
Colonial occupations in the Philippines made way for the development of theater plays as a way to express dissent through entertainment. In the American colonial period, Western theater styles such as vaudeville and minstrelsy became popular, and actors largely performed their pieces in English.
During the Japanese occupation, on the other hand, the confiscation of film equipment by the Japanese revived the forms of theater plays like bobadil which is housed in the Manila Opera House and zarzuela, a musical act combining spoken word and opera song, as forms of entertainment.
The end of the war signaled the end of the popularity of Philippine theater, as movies regained popularity and stage shows were sidelined in the provinces.
In recent years, though, the Philippine audience regained interest, which may have been started by Lea Salonga’s performance in Miss Saigon. Lea Salonga, a Filipino actress, made waves in theater history when she won a Tony Award for her performance in Miss Saigon in the West End, becoming the first Asian to play the role of Eponine on Broadway.
List of Stage Plays from September to December 2023
Have a first-hand experience of the intimate and communal nature of theater and appreciate the art created by the new generation of directors and playwrights by taking note of these stage play schedules from September to December 2023:
Romeo & Juliet
Showing Date: Sat 16 Sep 2023 to Sun 17 Sep 2023
Venue: Hyundai Hall, Areté, Ateneo de Manila University
Martin Lawrance’s Romeo & Juliet, in cooperation with Ballet Manila, is a captivating and innovative theatrical adaptation of Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy. Lawrance’s choreography breathes new life into the classic tale of star-crossed lovers, infusing it with a contemporary flair by using OPM pop songs while preserving the essence of the original story.
The ballet seamlessly combines graceful movements with powerful emotions, transporting the audience into the passionate world of young, forbidden love and tragic fate. Ballet Manila’s talented dancers bring Lawrance’s vision to life, displaying their technical prowess and artistic expression in each mesmerizing performance.
Snow White and the Prince
Showing Date: Sat 16 Sep 2023 to Sun 01 Oct 2023
Venue: Onstage Greenbelt
For those seeking a family-friendly theater experience, REP’s Theater for Young Audiences (RTYA) Snow White and the Prince is a must-see. This enchanting musical play will transport you to a world of fairy tales and magic. Follow Snow White’s journey as she encounters the wicked queen, seven dwarfs, and her charming prince.
The creative team behind the production includes H. Adam Harris as the director, Fred Kinney as the scenic designer, Ramzi Jneid as the costume designer, Andrea Hellman as the lighting designer, Leela Oleszkiewicz as the composer and musical director, and Natalie Figardeo as the stage manager.
Showing Date: September 26 to October 15
Anak Datu is a fascinating theatrical production that explores the rich culture and traditions of the Philippines. Directed by Chris Millado, this theatrical adaptation of National Artist Abdulmari Imao’s original story bearing the same name is a political art form that challenges how we perceive heroism.
The play showcases the vibrant music, dance, and storytelling techniques that immerse the audience in a world of ancient folklore and mythology. Musical numbers also complement the dramatic stories arising from Muslim Mindanao’s struggles, most importantly, the Jabidah and Malisbong massacres. Through its storytelling, the play urges its audience to remember and acknowledge the lives that were lost.
Bawat Bonggang Bagay
Showing Date: Sat 16 Sep 2023 to Sun 24 Sep 2023
Venue: Zobel de Ayala Recital Hall, Maybank Performing Arts Theater
Bawat Bonggang Bagay (Every Brilliant Thing) is a one-act interactive play that aims to destigmatize mental health, depression, and grief in traditional Filipino households. The play follows the story of a young child growing up with a parent and presents a rollercoaster ride of emotions, blending laughter and painful moments.
Guelan Luarca’s translation and Jenny Jamora’s direction provide a male and queer perspective, adding a new dimension to the play. Bawat Bonggang Bagay also criticizes certain aspects of Filipino culture, such as marriage laws, while localizing the list of brilliant things mentioned in the original play. The play has had a successful run, with sold-out performances.
Showing Date: Sun 17 Sep 2023 to Sun 12 Nov 2023
Venue: The Theatre At Solaire
HAMILTON, the award-winning and one of the most popular musicals in the world, is set to take the Philippine stage by storm. This groundbreaking production by star and co-creator Lin Manuel Miranda tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers, through a unique blend of American popular music, hip-hop, R&B, and traditional musical theater. With its powerful performances, catchy songs, and thought-provoking narrative, HAMILTON is a must-see for theater enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
BAILAME – Granada Flamenco Ballet
Showing Dates and Venues: Wed 20 Sep 2023 to Thu 21 Sep 2023 (Casino Español de Cebu Ballroom, Cebu City); Fri 22 Sep 2023 to Sat 23 Sep 2023( CCP Black Box Theatre, Pasay City)
BAILAME is a mesmerizing production by the Granada Flamenco Ballet, showcasing the vibrant and passionate art of flamenco. Inspired by the rich cultural traditions of Granada, the ballet combines traditional flamenco techniques with innovative choreography to create a captivating performance.
The show explores themes of love, jealousy, and the clash of different worlds, immersing the audience in a whirlwind of emotions. With its dynamic movements, powerful expressions, and exquisite staging, BAILAME takes the audience on a mesmerizing journey through the heart and soul of flamenco. It is a testament to the Granada Flamenco Ballet’s commitment to preserving and evolving this captivating art form
Showing Dates: Fri 22 Sep 2023 to Sat 23 Sep 2023
Venue: Samsung Performing Arts Theater
RAMA HARI is a ballet production choreographed by Alice Reyes, a renowned Filipino choreographer. It is a fusion of classical ballet, folk dance, and contemporary movement, with a narrative inspired by the Hindu epic, Ramayana.
The ballet tells the story of Rama, the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, and his quest to rescue his wife, Sita, from the clutches of the demon king Ravana. RAMA HARI showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines, blending traditional Filipino elements with the grace and elegance of ballet.
The choreography, rock music, and costumes come together to create a visually stunning and emotionally captivating performance.
Showing Date: Fri 6 Oct 2023 to Sun 22 Oct 2023
Venue: PETA Theater Center, Quezon City
Walang Aray, a political satire, top-billed by Filipino love team #KDLex (KD Estrada and Alexa Ilacad), is a new musical presented by the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA). It’s an experimental adaptation of Severino Reyes’ classic play, Walang Sugat.
This musical comedy combines contemporary language, funk and pop tunes, and tongue-in-cheek humor to create a genre-defying experience. It is described as a witty, funny, and daring farce that puts a fresh spin on the struggles of Filipinos under Spanish occupation. Walang Aray aims to entertain and make people think and reflect through good comedy.
Showing Date: November 14 to December 3
Venue: CCP Black Box Theater
Sandosenang Sapatos is a heartwarming theatrical adaptation based on the children’s story by Dr. Luis Gatmaitan. The play tells the heartwarming story of a young girl named Marikit, who dreams of having a new pair of shoes. However, she comes from a poor family, and her parents cannot afford to buy her the shoes she desires.
The adaptation showcases Marikit’s journey as she encounters various characters who teach her valuable life lessons along the way. Through the power of friendship, resilience, and the magic of storytelling, Marikit learns to appreciate the things she has and finds joy in the simplest of pleasures.
The play incorporates elements of music, dance, and visual storytelling to captivate the audience and bring the story to life. The set design and costumes reflect the vibrant and colorful world of Marikit’s imagination, creating a visually engaging experience for both children and adults.
The adaptation also explores themes of gratitude, empathy, and the importance of family bonds. It highlights the universal desire for love, happiness, and the significance of embracing one’s own identity. The story aims to inspire young audiences to appreciate the small joys in life and to value the relationships and experiences that shape them.
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The Philippine theater scene is brimming with excitement and anticipation as we approach the year 2023. With an array of stage plays lined up from September to December, theater enthusiasts are in for a treat. From classic tales to contemporary productions, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Whether you prefer musical plays, historical dramas, or thought-provoking performances, the Philippine theater has it all. So mark your calendars and prepare for an unforgettable theater experience as you immerse yourself in the magic of the stage.