REVIEW: “Bituing Walang Ningning” shines brighter the second time around
TFM Review: Bituing Walang Ningning by Frida Tan
Based on the 1985 movie starring Sharon Cuneta and Cherie Gil, Bituing Walang Ningning is the story of Dorina Pineda (Monica Cuenco), a simple girl from the province who happens to be the number one fan of singing sensation Lavinia Arguelles (Cris Villonco). After Arguelles’ boyfriend and manager, Nico Escobar (Mark Bautista), sees that Pineda, too, has quite the vocal prowess, he takes her under his wing and tries to pit the two stars against each other in the hopes of fostering healthy competition. While Pineda’s star power intimidates Arguelles, love triangles and power struggles add further strain to the already tense situation.
I will begin by saying that I have yet to catch the movie version. What I did see, though, was the show’s initial run last June 2015. I enjoyed it for the most part, but there were still a number of things to iron out.
Last September, there were talks of a rerun happening from October to January 2016 with some added changes to the script.
(READ: 9 Reasons to Watch Bituin Walang Ningning’s Re-run)
The creative team took two months to re-adjust and re-focus everything based on the audience’s feedback. Fortunately, all their hard work paid off.
The rerun is very tight. Scenes were added, songs were removed, and unnecessary moments were taken out entirely, just to really focus on what was important.
Numbers like the “Paikot-ikot” scene, for example, which used to be sung by musical director and Dorina Pineda admirer Gary Diaz (Ronnie Liang), has now become a big, beautiful ensemble piece that helped moved the story forward. More intimate moments with the leads, which further added to character development, were also very evident.
the talented ensemble
The script and the choreography were seamlessly edited, making everything more realistic and more fluid. If you were already rooting for your favorite character in the first run, you’d be rooting for him/her even more this time around. The many “whoa’s!” and “aaawws” audibly heard from the audience were enough proof of that.
Cuenco has also transformed into a seasoned performer in all the months that she has been performing her role. No one would ever even know that this was her first ever stage production. Her powerful vocals can match that of any seasoned theater veteran.
The immediate and resounding standing ovation at the end of the performance was a testament to the hard work that the creative team has put in to polish this production. This is an original, Filipino musical that we can all be very proud of.
Photography by: Erickson dela Cruz
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