Rama Hari is back with a bang! One of the most celebrated ballet musicals in the country which first took the stage 32 years ago once again takes the limelight. When in Manila, you wouldn’t want to miss the masterpiece of the biggest names in the arts.
Rama Hari brings to life the classic Ramayana of India. It tells of Rama’s tales of courage and his final quest to save his wife Sita and take back the throne that is rightfully his – a story with archetypal plot but rich with traditional values that need remembering nonetheless.
Described as “one of Ballet Philippines’ most memorable productions” by no other than the president of Ballet Philippines herself, Margie Moran-Floirendo, Rama Hari will definitely give your eyes the most graceful feast. Main dancers Carissa Adea as Sita and Jean Marc Cordero as Rama as well as their alternates reflect their skills and credentials in the several dances throughout the play. The discipline that is characteristic of ballet is shown by the entire cast which thus speaks for the excellent direction, choreography, and restaging by Ballet Philippines’ Founder Alice Reyes and former Associate Artistic Director Ramon Victoria. This is to no surprise however because both are famous for their craft.
The set design and props of Rama Hari is an art in itself, thanks to National Artist Salvador Bernal. Everything is minimalistic which is perfect since the music, dances, and lines are more than enough to overpower the audience and a busy backdrop would just ruin the experience. The white blocks and stairs not only serve their functions well but also become visual treats when well thought of lighting and aptly chosen colors of cloth come into play.
I find the costumes interesting because they’re simple yet at the same time regal with the right blend of gold and red for the main characters, of musk green and gold for the antagonists, of white and gold for other characters, and blue and violet highlights here and there. Amazing how careful props were put to achieve symmetry.
Rama Hari is a powerful reminder of how beautiful our language is. Poetic lines so wonderfully woven by National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera and exceptional music to further highlight the magnificence of our heritage by the legendary Ryan Cayabyab easily swept me off my feet. Reiteration of lines was very effective. The English translation which is projected during the performance doesn’t fall behind too, for it is the work of another National Artist – Rolando Tinio.
You will notice the modern touch of the production in Act II and it’s given the right treatment for people of all ages. The surprising approach to a fight scene towards the end was golden! Great great work by the artistic director, Paul Morales.
The wonderful dancing is paralleled by the singing just as well. Find yourself in awe as Christian Bautista and Karylle and their alternates OJ Mariano and Kalila Aguilos sing their hearts out. Robert Sena, Christian Rey Marbella, and the rest of the singers deserve commending too. Filipino music is very much alive in Rama Hari with songs such as Tagistis ng Ulan, Magbalik Ka Na Mahal and Awit ng Pagsinta. And how amazing it is to find all types of music in one production! Mellow, rock, and even disco! The orchestra succeeds too, intensifying the performances and delighting us with the humorous sounds of monkeys.
A lot has been said about Rama Hari before the actual restaging and from what I’ve seen, it sure wasn’t a mere buildup. When in Manila, head now to CCP for Rama Hari is until December 9 only!