Theater in Manila: Shows to Watch This October

A movie-turned-musical, a retelling of the Mahabharata, and more.

( For the month of October, art imitates life—from a musical that presents the harsh realities of the urban jungle to a highly sexual play about a late dictator. There are also shows about love, but superimposed with a social context, as art should always be. Book your tickets now and stay #woke.



Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, The Musical

Based on the 1986 Filipino novel Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag by Edgardo M. Reyes and 1975 film Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag directed by Lino Brocka, the theater adaptation follows probinsyano Julio Madiaga. Hoping for a better life, he goes to Manila only to find out about the harsh realities of living in the urban jungle. Joel Lamangan directs the musical penned by Jose Victor Torres and Em Mendez, and Von de Guzman for the music. 


Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, The Musical runs until October 6 at KIA Theater, Cubao, Quezon City. Tickets, priced from P1,500 to P3,700, are available through Ticketnet.






Lukso is a three-play production that revolves around the theme of taking risks. The first play Lovesong, written by Francis Lorenze Visco, presents a story of love and friendship between Andi and Tony. Get Uber It, written by Seleen Simora, Pauline Darroca, and Michaela Merino, follows the story of Ponso who has to choose between law school and his girlfriend while in an Uberpool. Ang Hiyaw ng Sirena at Panghi ng Gabi, written by Joachim Emilio Antonio, shows the story of two young parents—Delia and Jayson—who try to provide for their family through crime.


Lukso runs until October 6 at Telengtan Hall, 5/F APEC Communications Building, University of Asia and the Pacific, Pearl Drive, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Tickets, priced at P200, are available through 0906-289-2034.



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Ibong Adarna

Playwright Ed Maranan and director Roobak Valle stage a retelling of the Filipino classic Ibong Adarna as part of Gantimpala Theater Foundation's 40th Season. It still follows the epic tale of the three brothers as they set out to capture the magical bird, but new verses, new characters, and a chorus of townspeople are added to make it "more visually and aurally appealing." The show features music and dance traditional to the Maranaos.


Ibong Adarna is on October 6 at SM Manila and October 13 at SM Southmall. Tickets, priced at P300, are available through 0921-251-3733.




Swan Lake

For most of us, Swan Lake is a familiar ballet performance that follows the changing and opposite personalities of Odette and Odile. This is also true for Ballet Manila CEO and Artistic Director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, who saw it at the young age of 14. This restaging features a new generation of ballerinas and danseurs who all learned under the tutelage of the prima ballerina herself.



Swan Lake runs from October 7 to 15 at Aliw Theater, Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex, Vicente Sotto Street, Pasay City. Tickets, priced from P500 to P1,500, are available through Ticketworld.




Sakuntala: Ang Singsing ng Kapalaran

What would a Sanskrit drama feel like if it were set far into the future? Sakuntala: Ang Singsing ng Kapalaran is an interesting take on Kalidasa's Sanskrit play The Sign of Shakuntala, which is based on the story of Shakuntala told in the epic Mahabharata. Allan Palileo’s Philippine version is set in 2080, in a devastated Palawan where a young king named Dushyanta falls in love with the princess Sakuntala. The powerful god Durvases curses the two and makes Sakuntala lose the ring (as well as the fond memories) given to her by Dushyanta.


Sakuntala runs until October 21 at Studio 72 Black Box Theater, Kalayaan Avenue, Teachers Village West, Diliman, Quezon City. Tickets, priced from P500 to P1,000, are available through 0916-555-2782.





Batang Rizal

In Batang Rizal by Christine Bellen, Pepito meets Pepe—the young Rizal. They travel to each other's worlds through a magical book, and understand what it means to be a hero in their respective contexts.


Batang Rizal runs from October 10 to 28 at Rizal Mini Theater, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City. Tickets, priced at P250, are available through 0916-327-3370.





Ampalaya Dialogues

Ampalaya Monologues, your favorite show of artistic bitterness, celebrates its second anniversary with Ampalaya Dialogues—a showcase of six short one-act plays written by Mark Ghosn. Like its predecessor, expect a feels fest with relatable punchlines and hugot stories. It also features new monologues performed by some of today's popular spoken word artists.


Ampalaya Dialogues is on October 14, 7 p.m. at PETA Theater Center, 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City. Tickets, priced at P500, are available through Ampalaya Monologues’ Facebook page.




Fly Me to The Moon

Fly Me to The Moon, penned by Palanca Hall of Famer Rody Vera, follows Melanie as she embarks on a journey to Japan to help her family make ends meet. Aboard a ship filled with danger and sadness, she finds comfort in Karayuki-san who longs for her one true love, Ibrahim.


Fly Me to The Moon runs from October 13 to 22 at Artist Playground, Arts Above, 112 West Avenue, Quezon City. Tickets, priced at P600, are available through Ticketworld.





Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, first staged in the West End in 2002, is based on the 1968 film by Ken Hughes and 1964 novel by Ian Fleming. Set in 1910, it follows the "fantasmagorical" world of Caractacus Potts (Gian Magdangal), Truly Scrumptious (Yanah Laurel), the kids Jeremy (Noel Comia, Albert Silos), and Jemima (Isabeli Araneta-Elizalde, Zoey Alvarade), and their noisy but magical flying car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang runs from October 21 to November 12 at Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila, Newport Boulevard, Newport City. Tickets, priced from P1,000 to P4,000, are available through Ticketworld.





The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances

The Exemplars restages Ballet Philippines' internationally acclaimed classics, including National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes' Amada, which is based on National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin's Summer Solstice. It is set in 19th Century Manila, which is traditionally patriarchal, until a native festival called the Tadtarin shakes this status quo. Other featured works include Muñeca Aponte's Valse Fantasy, Gener Caringal's Ang Sultan, and Norman Walker's Songs of Wayfarer.


The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances runs from October 20 to 22 at Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater), Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. Tickets, priced from P500 to P1,500, are available through Ticketworld.




Mygahd, I Hate Drags

Mygahd, I Hate Drags is a twinbill production of Rogelio Braga’s Ang Mga Maharlika and U Z. Eliserio’s Karitas at Damaso. The former exposes Marcos' sexual relationship with Dovie Beams. The latter reveals the Catholic Church's system of feudalism and how it draws blind followers.



Mygahd, I Hate Drags runs from October 14 to 30 at the College of Architecture Amphitheater, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City. Tickets, priced at P300, are available through The UP Repertory Company's Facebook page.


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