THEATER REVIEW: Rivalry the Musical



Put together strong school spirit and a long-standing tradition of trying to outdo one another: what do you get?

Rivalry, the Musical. Of the green and blue variety.

The musical's lyricist Joel Trinidad nabbed it right on the head when he explained that Rivalry is more than just a musical about the actual rivalry between Ateneo and La Salle. While very real, and a strong impetus for the musical, it is clear, as Joel shared that the "lyrics encapsulated the whole conflict between the two schools but we made sure the execution will be acceptable to all.”

Rivalry, Ateneo-La Salle The Musical already had a successful showing in 2012 and 2013.

Here is a recap of what Rivalry is about: set in 1968, Ateneo and La Salle are part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association with other schools such as Letran, San Beda, Mapua and Jose Rizal.

The plot line works along the lives of two families headed by fathers belonging to Ateneo and La Salle. The conflict centers on the relationships of their sons and their common love interest. The story line is driven forward through the smart use of choreographed scenes and originally crafted musical numbers performed brilliantly by a cast of talented performers.

During this third run, it could be observed that most of the audience was heavily invested in the musical. While it was found out that 45% of the original viewers during the first run were from neither school, perhaps the positive reviews helped urge more Blue or Green supporters to come see this run.

Even with a minor glitch in the sound engineering that night, the audience's passion for and support for either school was evident. As noted by a member of the audience, "there's no pressure to explain or tap into emotions, because if the audience came from either school, their only concern is that their school is portrayed in a better light than the other."

During dramatic moments, audience members who supported either school could be heard jeering, or sometimes trying to control their emotions (or have their friend help control it for them) as some others rolled their eyes at the actors playing their rivals.

The bulk of the praise for Rivalry will almost always go to the lyrics of the songs that manage to encapsulate the stereotypes and La Salle-Ateneo jokes that get passed on from generation to generation.

But as has been pointed out, even during the musical's first run, much of its continued success can be attributed to the excellent and well-rounded cast members, especially its veteran theater actors.

This time, the lead stars, who sang and danced (much like a work-out) were reminiscent of Zac Efron during his High School Musical days.

Rivalry continues to be entertaining even if you don't hail from either school. Yes, it is anchored on the school rivalry but as you watch it, you realize it is about so much more: relationships, families, love and competitiveness. And if you've ever been a supporter of any other rivalry (Crispa vs Toyota, Ginebra vs everyone else), you would definitely be able to relate.

So while many may think that Rivalry the Musical is just about the basketball rivalry between Ateneo and La Salle, it is about so much more.

Bringing the musical into a larger venue like the Cultural Center of the Philippines helps bring this now-beloved material to the consciousness of an even larger audience. And Filipino theatergoers should be thankful for that.

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