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REVIEW: ‘One More Chance’ stays true to the cult classic

REVIEW: ‘One More Chance’ stays true to the cult classic

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One More Chance, The Musical is without a doubt one of this year’s most anticipated shows. You’re taking two bonafide iconic things—Ben&Ben and the 2007 movie One More Chance—and making a stage musical out of them. On paper, it sounds exciting and fan fervor reflected this with tickets pretty much selling out even before opening night.

Now the big question is, did it stay true to the cult classic film and the hit band? The result, for this writer at least, is a more than sufficient adaptation that worked better as a faithful One More Chance adaptation than perhaps a Ben&Ben jukebox musical. 

Directed by Maribel Legarda (who also directed hit Rak of Aegis) with musical direction by Myke Salomon (also musical director for Rak of Aegis), the expectation is that they will once again knock it out of the park. It’s still a great production overall, but the transformation of Ben&Ben’s music to fit the Filipino musical theater mold was at the expense of the folkiness that partly make up the band’s unique charm.

On the flip side, the production excels as a tribute to One More Chance. Adapted for the stage by Michelle Ngu-Nario (with dramaturgy by J-mee Kantanyag), the story that transpires on stage is the same One More Chance you remember, for good or for bad. If what made One More Chance iconic was its “quotable quotes,” all of it are present and accounted for in this adaptation. Even its broad comedy—corny jokes included—made their way to the stage.

If you need reminding, One More Chance is mostly the story of Popoy (Sam Concepcion) and Basha (Anna Luna), longtime young lovers in the middle of their busy and challenging young adult lives. Popoy is gung ho about them building a successful future together while Basha is struggling under the strain of his expectations. We see that both of them aren’t very good at hearing each other, their well-meaning Thursday barkada often intervening with support and advice. Popoy’s pressure causes Basha to break up with him and the story predominantly becomes about both of them navigating their individual lives after splitting up and the growth they have to go through before they inevitably find their way back to each other.

One More Chance The Musical

Popoy and the barkada after the breakup [L-R] Jon Abella (JP), Sam Concepcion (Popoy), Johnnie Moran (Chinno), Via Antonio (Anj); Photo Credit: PETA

The Thursday barkada—Popoy and Basha included—are now reformed to reflect young millennials or older Gen Z-ers but these characters aren’t much changed from their cinematic precursors nor did they need to be as the now 17-year-old film (screenplay by Carmi Raymundo and Vanessa R. Valdez) holds up quite well. This time, though, each barkada member is given their own distinct subplots meant to teach Popoy and Basha something important about their own relationship. The characters of JP (Jon Abella) and Anj (Via Antonio), in particular, are given plot points their movie versions didn’t have. Even Popoy’s Tita Edit (Neomi Gonzales) and her husband (Raul Montesa) were given more to work with, enough for Gonzales to bring the house down with her hilarious Korea-crazed ajumma character. Lamentably, however, the pivotal character of Tricia (Sheena Belarmino) doesn’t get any more fleshed out just like her movie counterpart. She’s still mostly a love interest for Popoy to overcome on his way back to Basha.

The additional subplots make the show far longer than its source material. While it doesn’t get boring, you will feel the show’s whopping 3-hour length towards the tail end of the second act, even as the musical finally delivers Ben&Ben’s biggest hits like “Sa Susunod na Habang Buhay” and “Leaves.”

In addition to the truthfulness to the source material, a strength of this adaptation is the highly charismatic lead performance of Sam Concepcion. You usually see him on stage in storybook-ish shows like Joseph the Dreamer or even Peter Pan so to watch him take on a more grown up role and project the je ne sais quoi that made John Lloyd Cruz the household heartthrob of the aughts is one of the show’s highlights. For her part as Basha, Anna Luna delivered a strong performance, reinforcing her reputation as a dependable leading lady. Sheena Belarmino also stands out, bringing vocal prowess and stage presence as Tricia despite the character remaining underdeveloped.

One More Chance The Musical

L-R: Tricia (Sheena Belarmino), Basha (Anna Luna) and Popoy (Sam Concepcion); Photo Credit: PETA

Embodying Legarda’s stylized staging, the show incorporates quite a few dance numbers (choreography by Michael Barry Que) as well as more straightforward dramatic scenes. Contributing to the theater magic is a turntable stage and a car set piece the cast drives from upstage down in some scenes (set designer is Ohm David). Bene Manaois’ projection design predominantly features projections as backdrops that seem to be more artistic than realistic. Carlo Villafuerte Pagunaling’s costumes also add to the ‘modernization’ of these characters while doing what it can to pay homage to the late aughts fashions. 

A less favorable carryover from the film is the overt product placements, now a common trope in PETA productions. While played for laughs that the audience seems to enjoy, they are sometimes jarring in their overtness, taking one away from the narrative.

Already a runaway success if ticket sales are anything to go by, One More Chance is ultimately a victorious and faithful adaptation of a source material that stands the test of time and deserves, well, one more chance to reach new audiences.


Tickets: Php 1,500.00 to Php 3,000.00
Show Dates: April 12 to June 30, 2024
Venue: PETA Theater
Running Time: approx. 3 hours w/ 10 min intermission
Credits: Maribel Legarda (Director), Michelle Ngu-Nario (Playwright & English Translation), Myke Salomon (Musical Director & Sound Designer), Michael Barry Que (Choreographer), J-mee Katanyag (Asst. Director & Dramaturg), Ohm David (Set Designer), Carlo Villafuerte Pagunaling (Costume Designer), David Esguerra (Lighting Designer), Bene Manaois (Projection Designer)
Cast: Sam Concepcion, CJ Navato, Anna Luna, Nicole Omillo, Kiara Takahashi, Sheena Belarmino, Poppert Bernadas, Paji Arceo, Ada Tayao, Rica Laguardia, Via Antonio, Dippy Arceo, Jon Abella, Johnnie Moran, Jay Gonzaga, Jef Flores, Chez Cuenca, Coleen Paz, Matthew Barbers, JC Galano, Neomi Gonzales, Carla Guevara Laforteza, Raul Montesa, Floyd Tena, Hazel Maranan
Company: Philippine Educational Theater Association

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