During its initial limited run in 2013, Sa Wakas: A Pinoy Rock Musical was hailed as a groundbreaking original Filipino creation. The combination of beloved music from OPM band Sugarfree and a relatable story left audiences clamoring for more. After three years of persistent petitioning, Sa Wakas, named after the band’s first studio album, is back to rock the stage. (Fun fact: Dramachine is Sugarfree’s second album which went platinum in 2004.)
(In Photos: Sa Wakas the Musical)
Set in reverse, the story explores the breakdown of the relationship between Topper (played by Vic Robinson and alternated by Pepe Herrera) and Lex (played by Caisa Borromeo and alternated by Cara Barredo), as well as his blossoming connection with Gabbi (played by Justine Peña and alternated by Maronne Cruz). Rounding out the cast is Topper’s kuya (played by Hans Dimayuga) and the fabulous Chumariwaps (played by Abi Sulit, Moira Lozada and Laui Guico).
Topper is a freelance photographer struggling to establish himself in a new industry. Meanwhile, his girlfriend Lex is a resident doctor who is driven to achieve her lifelong goal of becoming a neurosurgeon. Their divergent priorities pushes Topper to Gabbi, a writer and editor who seems to be more in sync with his creative pursuits. A story about love triangles always runs the risk of being cheesy and predictable, but the show is clever in its execution. Because the plot is set in rewind, the audience is already aware of the end game. Instead, it’s the little details that take center stage: where the fractures started and who cracked it open. Inside jokes become full blown annoyances. Small tokens become weighty symbolisms. It’s every relationship can of worms ripped open – lack of quality time, different life goals, changing compatibility. And in the end, the lingering regret of recalling happier times. If your “hugot” is deep, this is a show you will certainly relate to. (They sell beer at the front desk by the way. You might need one.)
(Sneak Peek: ‘Sa Wakas’ Cast Performs Excerpts)
The undeniable force behind this show however, is the music. Musical Director Ejay Yatco breathes new life into beloved Sugarfree classics. The arrangement is fun and upbeat, then hauntingly piercing the next. Songs like Kwarto, Prom, and Burnout really wring out the needed emotional depth. All three actors were unsurprisingly brilliant. Their singing was both beautiful and heartbreaking. And of course, kudos to the live band for providing the show’s backbone.
At the heart of it, Sa Wakas’ triumph is in its relatability. Hearing the audience react audibly to several scenes is testament to their emotional investment. It’s a deceptively simple story until you find yourself peeling through the layers hours after the final bow. For that, and for the music, it’s a show that’s worth bringing back a second time around.
Sa Wakas is currently showing at the Power Mac Center Spotlight in Circuit City Makati until February 12, 2017.
Photo coverage by Erickson dela Cruz
Erratum: In an earlier version of this review, it was mentioned that Sa Wakas was named after the band’s third album. We have made the necessary correction. We apologize for the error.