Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our website.

REVIEW: Parokya musical blends nostalgia and elevated music-making in a dizzying beer-induced dream

REVIEW: Parokya musical blends nostalgia and elevated music-making in a dizzying beer-induced dream

Share this article

One leaves the theater with head spinning from the overwhelming surfeit of sound and spectacle just witnessed: something that seems inspired by an inuman session. But in this production’s hands, that may not be a bad thing.”

There’s no escaping Parokya ni Edgar (PNE) songs if you’re Pinoy.  You hear them everywhere: the neighbor doing karaoke at unholy hours, the barbershop, and just about every school Battle of the Bands contest. The universality of the band’s appeal lay in their transmuting all of growing up’s problems into songs: the triumphs of first love, the pitfalls of courtship; but above all, they remind us that all problems can be overcome with the help of friends’ wise counsel over a few bottles of beer.

The latest jukebox musical (from the same production company behind the Eraserheads musical “Ang Huling El Bimbo”) took the cheeky and ever-young spirit of PNE to heart. One leaves the theater with head spinning from the overwhelming surfeit of sound and spectacle just witnessed: something that seems inspired by an inuman session. But in this production’s hands, that may not be a bad thing.

Dexter M. Santos makes directing so many moving (and flying!) parts look easy, as he truly leaned into the crazy exaggeration of musical theater raised to the ultimate Pinoy power. The frenzy of Santos’ rotating cast carried clever props that alternated between jeepney, banca, and aswang wings. This is a masterful director in control, as shown in the cohesive choreography of dancers performing even dangerous stunts.

The show featured four lead actresses: Tex Ordoñez-De Leon as Norma, the heartbroken matron, Natasha Cabrera as Girlie, the lady guard with a secret, Felicity Kyle Napuli as Aiza, a student with a debilitating illness, and Marynor Madamesila as Jen, who scavenges the streets, hungering for more than food. 

Parokya ni Edgar musical

Felicity Kyle Napuli as Aiza; Photo Credit: Newport World Resorts

All four had beautiful singing voices as their characters went through challenges in their respective stage of life as experienced from Napuli’s youthfulness (such powerful vibrato in one so young!) up to Ordoñez-De Leon’s mature man-eater. Cabrera’s polite smile as armor against a world that ignores her shows a vulnerability that makes us root for this lady guard, while Madamesila brings an energy all her own to the stage, and thrills the audience from the very first note she sings (the first in the show). It makes us brace ourselves for the musical treat that is to come, because you haven’t truly heard PNE til you’ve heard them sung / played this well.  


If Music were a main character it would undoubtedly be the lead, with this reviewer finding a new all-time favorite in “Your Song” tenderly sung by the vocal powerhouses that were the four female leads. Hearing these incredible voices backed by the orchestral accompaniment is reason enough to buy a ticket.

This quartet share the same birthday, and as they go meet their challenges each day, while clad in black and gray, they all hear a percussive rhythm that others can’t. They search for the sound, and it leads them to another world, one more colorful, fantastic, and forgiving than ours.

The first act introduced us to the characters and their problems, but it was done so quickly, they seemed underdeveloped. Real-life problems were mere background for the medleys of songs. This reviewer found herself distracted by the overly-stimulating set, with the impressive and tasteful projections of moving cars and jeepneys on the stairs separating the different levels that allowed up to 35 cast members dancing on stage all at once. In a few scenes, a live dog enters the stage, and this is the least strange thing that occurs. Harnesses allowed people and torsos to fly, making the aswang (and her intestines) a technical highlight of the show.

Parokya ni Edgar musical

Tex Ordoñez-De Leon as Norma; Photo Credit: Newport World Resorts

Act I brought the spectacle with its trippy trip to a fantasy world, but Act II formed the heart and soul of the music, as our leads reflected in ballad form on what lessons would bring color to their gray existence. 

Accompanied by fifteen members of the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), the arrangements of Ejay Yatco elevated the songs with their gorgeous lushness. However, they were a bit too loud on the afternoon of our show, overpowering many of the spoken and sung lines.

The Heroines’ Flawed Journey

Perhaps the biggest flaw of the musical is its unsatisfying story, and leads presented as mere stereotypes: the bullied girl, the lonely single lady pining after her ex, the ignored worker, and the abused beggar. The hero’s journey is a tried-and-tested trope, yet in this case, problems were explained but specific solutions were not presented (apart from the general solution offered: the drinking session with bosom buddies).

Some of the humor seemed a bit mean as well, especially how the show poked fun at the weird brand of Pinoy-English of Ordoñez-De Leon. And audiences who ate heavy meals may feel squeamish at the sight of so much gore and entrails.

Inuman Na

There is a hint of religiosity in the very name of PNE, as “parokya” translates to “parish.” If Christians come together over a meal, then Pinoys do the secular equivalent over a drinking session with buddies. As the Rody Vera script playfully states, the beer is merely a metaphor for the group therapy session that comes with it. And, the musical shows, a lot of us (regardless of age) can do with more friendly chats, more endorphin-laden group singing, as an antidote to the terrible loneliness plaguing an increasingly isolated society. 

Parokya ni Edgar musical

Natasha Cabrera as Girlie with the cast of Buruguduystunstugudunstuy; Photo Credit: Newport World Resorts

The meaning behind the mouthful of a title is later revealed in a most musical way, which is also a beautiful metaphor : the ever-marching beat of breathing hearts that break as all live ones do, but continue on nonetheless in the incredible dance called Life.

“Nothing came to those who didn’t try,” and if this musical did not quite succeed in creating a classic, would that all attempts were as spectacular and impressive in their execution.



Tickets: P1,105.00 – P5,525.00
Show Dates: April 26 – May 19, 2024 (3:00 PM / 8:00 PM)
Venue: Newport Performing Arts Theater, Pasay City
Running Time: 2 hours 45 minutes (including a 20 minute intermission)
Credits: Rody Vera (Playwright), Dexter M. Santos (Director), Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo (Associate Director), Michael Stuart Williams (Artistic Director), Ejay Yatco (Musical Director / Arranger), Michael Jacinto (Conductor – MPO), Rodel Colmenar (Artistic Director – MPO), Stephen Viñas (Choreographer), Raven Ong (Costume Designer), Lawyn Cruz (Scenic Designer), Meliton Roxas Jr. (Lights Designer), GA Fallarme and Joyce Garcia (Video Designers), Johann dela Fuente (Hair and Makeup Designer), Rards Corpus (Sound Engineer), Arvy Dimaculangan (Sound Designer), Sunshine Domine (Production Manager), Maribel J. Garcia (Company Manager), Christian Parado (Stage Manager)
Cast: Felicity Kyle Napuli (Aiza), Marynor Madamesila (Jen), Natasha Cabrera (Girlie), Tex Ordoñez-De Leon (Norma), Noel Comia Jr. (Tikmol), Pepe Herrera (Mr. Suave), Nicco Manalo (Mang Jose), Jasper Jimenez (Tito Ralph), Boo Gabunada (Buloy), Jules dela Paz (Murlock), MC dela Cruz (Ric), Rapah Manalo (Charvis), Stephen Viñas (Gilbert), Cara Barredo, Chaye Mogg, Cheska Quimno, Franco Ramos, Iya Villanueva, Francis Gatmaytan, Jim Andrew Ferrer, Jep Go, Jillian Ita-as, Julia Serad, Khalil Tambio, Liway Perez, Mark Anthony Grantos, Maronne Cruz, Miah Canton, Mikaela Regis, Neo Rivera, Paui Luzuriaga, Red Nuestro, Ralph Oliva, Sarah Facuri, Teetin Villanueva, Karmi Santiago, Albert Silos, Ashlee Factor, Katrine Sunga, Noel Rayos, Ring Antonio, Rofe Villarino, Aixia Mallary
Company: Full House Theater Company of Newport World Resorts

About the Author /


Gabi is a classically trained soprano who now performs in the English / Music / Drama classroom. On weekends she soaks in as much art and literature as she can, so she can pass her love for the arts on to her students. She passionately believes in the transformative role of arts education in nation-building. (IG: teacher.gabi.reads )