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As part of Tanghalang Batingaw’s 39th Anniversary, the resident theater group of Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Manila presented a fantasy play inspired by the hits of The Eraserheads, aptly titled “Paraluman”. Running on August 8 and 10 (with a re-staging on August 13) at the Jose P Laurel Hall of Freedom, the play uses the songs of the iconic band to support the drama and bring the characters to life.
From the start, it already gives a similar feel to THE LION KING, except the story involves relationships of animals of different species. So, to avoid confusion, assume that all the anthropomorphic creatures belong to one race as ANIMALS. The play also reminds me of the fight between good and evil in the Chronicles of Narnia.
The selling point for this play is that it is inspired by the E-heads’ songs, even getting a nod from the twitter fan page @Eheads_Fans. I wouldn’t go so far as categorizing this as a Musical per se, as there are long periods that do not have any singing at all, but there are a number of songs from the famous group that were included in part to add a special Eheads flavor to the story.
Ang Huling El Bimbo, from where the titular character comes, was used to recall good times between her and her hero. The story even includes (albeit in a separate scene) a short bit seemingly inspired by the music video for the song, where Paraluman drearily whispers “…Ang Huling El Bimbo”. Of course, made me recall the end of the video, where she freakily emerges from a pile of leaves.
Another song, which reflects the main themes of struggle and oppression, is the Sticker Happy track, Para sa Masa. As the play showcases the clash between the forces of an oppressive antagonistic wolf named Marakus (who shares certain similarities with Scar from The Lion King), and the lowly subjects of the Animal Kingdom, the song is a fitting reminder that gives meaning to all the sacrifices the animals make in the name of Freedom.
Aside from the songs, the writer also incorporated the names of the members of the ‘Heads themselves among the featured characters. Other than Marakus (obviously taken from lead guitarist Marcus Adoro), the play also features protagonistic stag Eliano (inspired by frontman Ely Buendia). My intuition leads me to assume (since two Marcus and Ely are already on the list) that the unseen King Ramadon is named after drummer Raimund Marasigan. Thus, I am also assuming that the Zazu-esque parrot Booby is a play on the name of bassist Buddy Zabala. The wily snake Dancel also sounds inspired by Kris Gorra-Dancel of Fatal Posporos/Duster, who took over vocal duties after Ely left the band at the turn of the Millennium.
Credit goes to writer and director Marlon Igmasin for conceptualizing an original story, despite using parts of the songs of arguably the country’s most famous band of the 90’s. From here, maybe the next step would be to develop it into something closer to an actual musical, with full-length songs spread throughout the production, similar to the Beatles’ tribute Across the Universe directed by Julie Taymor , or The Dawn-inspired EJ: Ang Pinagdaanang Buhay nina Evelio Javier at Edgar Jopson directed by Chris Millado.
Photo Credits: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CLFyqTaUAAEfYyX.jpg
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