Crazies in Paris

By Neal P. Corpus

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Laughs for grabs: A Comedy of Tenors reminds us that life is flat-out bonkers. Repertory Philippines opens its 2018 season with a ridiculous comedy that’ll knock you off your seat.

MANILA, Philippines — Have you ever had one of those dreams that are just so wild and surreal, but also seem so real? The kind that you remember days later and you could’ve sworn you were awake when it happened. Well, that’s exactly what happens in A Comedy of Tenors, Repertory Philippines’s first musical production of 2018. Except everyone is awake, which makes it even more hilarious.

Here’s the picture: it’s the 1930s in Paris, and American producer Henry Saunders (Jeremy Domingo) is staging the opera that will make or break his hard-earned career. Saunders is the kind of guy with the luck of a prince-turned-frog: one of the stars of his three-tenor show has gone missing at the last minute, and his success now hinges on an aging male Italian diva, named Tito Merelli (Loy Martinez), complete with hot flashes in the form of bouts of anxiety about his age and career. It’s melodrama at its most ridiculous: he still thinks of his unica hija Mimi (Mica Pineda) as a little girl when she’s actually 25 and sexually active, thinks that the upcoming tenor half his age, Carlo Nucci (Arman Ferrer), is out to get him, and thinks Carlo and his wife Maria (Issa Litton) are having an affair.

There’s a lot going on, and mind you, this all takes place in one hotel room. Forget the nice view of the Eiffel Tower on the terrace; you’ve got all you need indoors. If what I described earlier isn’t enough, brace yourself because there ain’t no filler characters here: Max (Noel Rayos), the opera’s ad hoc HBIC who also happens to be Saunders’ long-time assistant and soon-to-be son-in-law, and Tatiana Racon (Sheila Valderrama-Martinez), a Russian tigress who knows what she wants, has a history with Tito, and has come to f*ck sh*t up.

But that’s not all there is. The play by Tony Award winner Ken Ludwig is funny on its own, but the performances delivered by the cast will have you laughing right out of your seat and rolling around on the floor with them. Loy Martinez, Arman Ferrer, and Noel Rayos live up to their roles of the three tenors beyond requirement; Issa Litton holds her own and is a delight to watch and laugh with.

Even at the height of its complete absurdity, you realize that Tenors is completely relatable, and that it is real life. Life is absolutely crazy and ridiculous and flat-out bonkers. You’re laughing right out of your seat, but really, what you’re getting is a hug that reassures you that, no, you’re not that crazy after all.

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A Comedy of Tenors runs ’til Feb. 18 at the Onstage Theater in Greenbelt 1. For tickets, visit http://www.ticketworld.com.ph.

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