As I have said in my previous entry on Dani Girl, I have always been a lover of the theater, musicals most specifically. There is just something about the musical theater that draws me closer to it. It’s more of like a calling. I just probably lack the time and resources to hop from one show to another. If only I had the cash to invest on these beautiful shows for me to experience, I would have filled my blog with so many performances. But the passion and love stay no matter what because I have lived for the theater.
#DaniGirlMNL first staged at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium at the RCBC last July 11, 2014 on a rainy Friday night. I was with a friend who thought it was all about the jazz and extravaganza. She ended up getting teary-eyed. I was all with watery eyes because indeed the musical was a success, so genuine and felt, and to many critics poignant. It really was.
One of the members of the press during the open forum right after the show did ask the director Toff de Venecia why of all the themes possible, such serious and heavy theme of death was made central to the musical. It may actually be one valid query since most musicals these days are all about the happy endings, dance, upbeat music, victory, glory, and all the theatrical jazz. But to experience and be riveted by Dani Girl is what it takes to get an answer to that.
Admittedly, one may say that Dani Girl is novel to the musical palate of the audience. But how everything was put, in a two-act musical, with four actors, a well-arranged music and live accompaniment, a practical make-shift immobile stage architecture, and lights that never went wrong in direction as emphasis was made on a few points in the show, made everything worth the time in the evening. And to say that it was a musical good for the soul was simply an understatement. It was rather heartfelt, genuine, and right-on a nudge to reality. It made the audience think and feel. It captured everyone as questions about life and hope were much highlighted. It went beyond feeling it. It went as far as letting everyone see the very situation of dying, yet hoping and living.
Danica Lyons, the main character of Dani Girl had asked the question right at the beginning, and this gave direction to the musical. Why cancer? Why die? Why live in suffering when there is no reason at all? As a counter-narrative to it, Marty, the character who played as Dani’s roommate in the pediatric oncology area, attempted to reason that it could probably be a consequence to people’s actions and choices. But to Dani’s own reasoning, it can’t be because she has always been kindred, gentle, and almost perfect for a child that any parent could ever wish to have. This then developed into questions about life, living, death, hope, strength to live despite many of life’s circumstances, uncontrolled ones, and the possibility of not living again.
Interestingly, this was from the perspective of a child, a child who is supposed to play and explore the many good things in life. But such perspective was more refreshing to the audience, who may have treated life as something routine, void of any emotion for the purpose of daily functionality. It was riveting because this is coming from a child who is seen as frail, weak, and incapable of understanding the complexity of life. But because of her mom’s faith, the faith that Dani had built in her, her hope, her reconciling self, her forgiving self, her positivity in life and in what it has to offer, and her compassion to live made it all possible to battle against her leukemia.
Dani Girl may have ended in tragedy, it was indeed a reflective and recollecting moment for everyone. The hustle and bustle of the urban and working life may have made people adamant of any emotional turmoil, Dani Girl was more of a step-back in life that no matter what happens, there is hope, and such hope is made by oneself. It may come from people, loved ones, friends and family alike, but it will always come from within.
Death and dying may be themes that are unlikely to be tackled in a fun extravaganza of the musical theater. But because of these themes that it is proven that theater, be it in musical or the play, has an essential purpose more than just the entertainment and pastime. It is reveal the underlying meaning of life, people, events, complexities of other interchanging themes in life, and in essence, what it is like to live in a world that changes, challenges, frustrates, makes one happy or sad, and that makes everyone see the beauty that is in him or her.
To Dani Girl Manila and the entire production team, congratulations! There is indeed more to expect from the team.