PETA’s “3 Stars and a Sun”:
8 Reasons to Join the Tropang Gising
Ever wondered what happens when you set a dystopian, futuristic society and its woes to the music of pop culture and music legend Francis Magalona? In it’s last play of the season, PETA accomplishes just that.
8. A Cautionary Tale
The story of 3 Stars and a Sun is set in the not-so-distant future Pinasland, in the year 2096. The latest world war has resulted in nuclear bombing and extreme weather conditions, driving the remaining survivors to take refuge inside The Stormdome. The governance inside becomes a totalitarian regime, suffocating those inside with uniformity, unrelenting control and a senseless caste system, even going as far as to “recondition” (aka erase people’s memory) when they’re deemed a threat. The residents of The Stormdome are split into the affluent people of Lumina and the slave population of Diliman–a push and pull between light and dark that close to shatters everything that keeps their fragile world together.
The play, according to writers Mixcaela Villalon, Rody Vera and director Nor Domingo, serves as a cautionary tale–impeccably timed for the 2016 elections.
7. A Timely Theme
Writers Mixcaela Villalon and Rody Vera were inspired by science fiction when they brought the musical to life, pulling from some of the underlying political themes in Noli and El Fili and bringing them to contemporary times. While the playwrights, director, cast members and even the Magalona family deny supporting a candidate or being against another, their hope is to reach the youth and other first-time voters. The goal of the musical is to challenge the youth vote to tackle the country’s problems head on and take the country’s future in their own hands–a future that hopefully looks nothing like the inside of The Stormdome.
6. A First for PETA
As it’s last play for the season, 3 Stars and a Sun is a first for PETA in the sense that it is the first time the theatre company has taken on a futuristic, dystopian theme. With LED lights, innovative use of set design and costume, the musical takes its viewers on an interactive journey that entertains as it enlightens.
5. Acting Smart
Despite running away from history, it seems the residents of The Stormdome are doomed to repeat it. While clearly political, the play touches on topics that are very relevant to this day. The Filipino’s crab mentality, miseducation and most of all its selective amnesia–not learning from the mistakes of the past and most of all, not doing justice to the sacrifices that bought us our freedom.
Rather than turning the wheel and putting those on top at the bottom and vice versa, the play suggests a revolution–one that shakes the status quo and breaks the pattern.
4. Impeccable Casting
3 Stars and a Sun is at its core a clash of the barkadas. According to director Nor Domingo, the casting call was rigorous as every member of the cast was required to not just sing but rap to audition. With the music of Philippine rap legend Francis Magalona, this was no easy task. All the difficult casting calls and rehearsals paid off in the end, with an incredible cast composed of Che Ramos-Cosio and Carla Guevara-Laforteza, Bodjie Pascua and Raffy Tejada, Paolo Valenciano alternating with Gio Gahol, Giannina Ocampo and Justine Peña, Nicco Manalo and Gold Villar, Anna Luna and Jet Barrun, John Moran and Nar Cabico, Lee Viloria and EJ Pepito, Anj Heruela and Gab Pangilinan, and Jef Flores and Norbs Portales.
3. The Man from Manila
Right in the middle of the chaos between Lumina and Diliman is the Man from Manila himself, Francis M. While his music has always been politically charged and aptly attuned to the social consciousness, 20 of his iconic songs set the pace, tone and tell the story of the play. No other artist’s music could accomplish this feat, and it’s refreshing to catch old favorites refitted to tell new tales.
2. Outstanding Musical Direction
Under the keen ear and watchful eye of Gawad Buhay! awardee and Rak of Aegis musical director Myke Salomon, Francis M’s music comes to life. “His music has always transcended genre, but unfortunately most of the themes that he sang and rapped about are still present to this day,” said a PETA representative.
While some of the lyrics have been adjusted to fit the story, the musical manages to maintain the spirit and core message of the songs.
1. Ang Huling Bayani
There are heroes aplenty in 3 Stars and a Sun, while the title of “Ang Huling Bayani” is goes to Pancho, who seals the last panel of The Stormdome from the outside. Above all else, the musical is a tale of heroism–of breaking the cycle of our heroes having to sacrifice their lives and leave leadership in the aftermath to those who are unsuitable. We find our unlikely heroes in the character of Mang Okik, ang matandang baliw who is the last vessel of Philippine history–a history that is carried not just in the mind but in the heart; in Sol, the rabble-rouser and troublemaker from Diliman and in Dianne, the golden child from Lumina with a heart.
The task of becoming the country’s next hero is then passed on to the audience: Ano ang pipiliin mo? Will you join the Tropang Gising or stay in the dark?
Catch 3 Stars and a Sun which opens tomorrow February 4, 2016 and runs until March 6, 2016 at the PETA Theater Center, #5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City. Get tickets and find more details here.