Photo by Dahl Bennett
The CCP's Ed Cabagnot was getting carried away about it on Facebook today (posting links to versions of the Yvonne Elliman classic; did you know Sinead has a version of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" on youtube?), but I already had my Jesus Christ Superstar fix last night at Taumbayan, this corner eatery/bar/performance place which really looks like a sari-sari store from your cab window. I have been craving for some JCS gig since two weeks ago, and listening to the movie with beer on hand just wasn't cutting it (will somebody lend me a movie soundtrack?). The '70s Bistro in Anonas used to hold a JCS show yearly, putting together a cast that have included Cookie Chua, Noel Cabangon (as JC), Jett Pangan, Indio I and other names from the rock scene. I've been to three and it was always jampacked and so much fun and the performances amazing.
I always thought only rock people could do this musical justice. And so I also came to see Basti Artadi play JC several years ago in the rave-scene-paparazzi-era version by Atlantis Productions. So when my friend Eric Cabahug texted me about the Taumbayan gig fifteen minutes before the performance began, I left my bag of expectations at home (its big and heavy and comes with a stroller) and thought one or two beers could probably turn this one into something mildly fun. The players were showbiz-theater people: Bituin Escalante (Judas), Aiza Seguerra (Mary Magdalene), Agot Isidro (JC), Ricci Chan (Herod). On the organ and singing Pontius Pilate's numbers was Vince de Jesus of Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah fame. Joel Lamangan was in the audience (singing along as if he were part of Norman Jewison's taumbayan), and so were Tony Mabesa, lighting designer Monino Duque, writers Emman dela Cruz, Mario Hernando, and the Medina brood: Pen, Ping and a brother whose attention was exclusively dedicated to his phone. It was PETA here, Dulaang UP there, and Teatro Pilipino everywhere else.
How was the performance? After a couple of Pales, I was happily singing along, and by the time "Simon Zealotes" came in, I was more forgiving of the missed lyrics, and was dancing in my tight little space. Aiza gave a heartbreaking rendition of "I Don't Know How To Love Him," and Bituin is always fabulous except she repeated some of the lines once in a while. That's okay I guess, I'm sure there were no rehearsals involved and eveyrthing seemed last minute (I love it when a group of people come in all white and think that's automatically a chic costume). The real performance of the night, though, was my friend Emman's who stood beside me. When the final song Superstar started, we all got excited and joked around that Nora Aunor might just be coming down from the stairs. Then Emman began singing his own impromptu version of Superstar, this time about Ate Guy's return from the dead. "Ayan na siya! Ang nag-iisa!"
All in all, it wasn't a complete waste of time. My friend bought a shirt from Neil Ryan Sese who brought with him a bag of Bangkok stuff. The black shirt was splattered with numerous rock band names my friend would never listen to, but it looked so cool I almost bought one. What I ended up buying is a bracelet of black wooden beads from a bag sitting on Gino Gonzales's lap. I've never worn something like it in years and it was just a hundred bucks. When one of the owners, Joel Saracho saw all these buying and selling happening, he stopped for a moment to ask: "What did Christ do when the people turned the temple into a marketplace?" As soon as we settled our last bill, we were outtathere.