FOREVER AFTER TRIUMPHS!
By JOSH ANDOWITT, Entertainment Editor, Ang Peryodiko
Concerts come and go but a concert like Forever After does not come often! This is an event that concert goers will be talking about for a long time and rightfully so! Everything about it, the stellar cast, the well-crafted costumes, the storyline, the repertoire, the set design, and the audio visuals, stands in stark opposition to the trends of current concerts.
Magnificent! Heartwarming! Spellbinding! Incredibly thrilling! Fascinating! Astounding! Stunning! Mesmerizing! Totally Engrossing! Irresistible! Royally and Effortlessly Entertaining! Laugh-Out-Loud Funny! These are just few words that were said about Forever After.
Forever After, the two-night pre-Valentine fairytale like production fantaconcierto and first of its kind musical-comedy concert of Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez and singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid together with Mr. Total Entertainer Rico J. Puno and Comedy Concert Queen Ai Ai de las Alas, was simply magical! It was just not a musical extravaganza and a musical marvel to the ears but a joy to behold and a sumptuous visual feast!
Anna Co Puno of Star Media Entertainment and Cacai Velasquez Mitra of Aria Productions left no stone unturned from its stellar cast and crew to the well thought repertoire, highly conceptualized storyline, painstakingly and elaborately designed costumes, fairytale inspired stage set, interactive audio and stunning visuals, snow making machines, and flying fairies.
Forever After held at the Araneta Coliseum last February 10 and 11 has a storyline penned by Ricky Lee that revolves around two star-crossed lovers, “freaking” Regs (Regine) and Pogs (Ogie), separated when they were kids yet were destined to eventually meet and fall in love. Queen Ai Ai is the ice queen of Amorata, a kingdom inhabited by fairies. Queen Ai Ai once had a romantic tryst with another fairyland denizen, Rico J., however by some twist of fate, they broke up. Hurt, bitter and vengeful, Queen Ai-Ai vowed to banish LOVE in her kingdom. Will Love triumphant between “freaking” Regs and Pogs? Or will Queen Ai Ai succeed in her sinister ways in forever banishing love in Amorata? Will Rico J. reunite with Queen Ai Ai? How would Rico J. help the two young hearts find that love is stronger than the evil maneuverings of the villainous Queen? These are few questions that will be answered as Forever After unfolds!
Ricky clarified that Forever After is not a musical but rather a concert with a storyline! His script was purposely written loosely to give way to the performers’ personalities thus incorporating the audience as part of the whole show that proved to be effective, fun and innovative!
Since Forever After is story driven, Musical director Raul Mitra has chosen songs that fit the concert’s story including a few of the artists’ original songs. Raul splendidly succeeded in providing a platform for the audience to experience the immense power of love through heartfelt renditions of timeless love songs with a storyline.
Director Rowell Santiago knew that for two nights, Forever After was his stage! His direction showed strength, confidence, innovation, originality and inspiration. He superbly moved the audience emotionally not only through his technical acumen but through his passion, astute direction and fastidious song selections. He was successful in letting us feel what we cannot see. It was truly a glorious night for Rowell!
It was truly a joy to watch Regine, Ogie, Ai Ai and Rico J. with their amazing musical and comedic chemistry onstage. Their duets were simply remarkable and effortless. Their banters and spiels came out so naturally, even when they were simply talking about rumors that incessantly haunt them, past and present relationships, even failed partnerships and liaisons.
Individually, they are all accomplished artists and have done countless solo concerts yet their comedic timing and musical chemistry onstage were unquestionable. They not only collectively harmonize attractively with their vocal prowess but complement each other talents when they perform.
We see Ogie and Regine regularly on GMA-7’s Sunday noontime show, SOP Rules, where they sing together various songs in flawless blending of voices. The same inspiring blending was taken farther in Forever After.
Regine’s spirited and unblemished rendition of the romantic ballad Paalam Na was simply riveting! With each song and each note she exquisitely exposed her emotions as she made pitch-perfect and trancelike contact across the stage. When she sang God Give Me Strength, she transformed it into mesmerizing minutes of theater. When she cried, lamented and tormented of a love lost, we felt her pain and we were with her. And when she floated and flew gracefully around the stage with Pure Imagination, she not only wooed us but won our hearts.
Ai Ai as the Evil Queen was sassy, saucy and supremely confident! She was flirtatious and playful with the audience, seducing and melting us, making us realize that she is the Queen! She did wonders with her antics and made us fall off our seats with laughter. With her lavish costumes and her fortitude to venture into power belting, Ai Ai could not be ignored, she was exceptionally hysterical!
Ogie radiated magnetism that made him appealing and credible that he is Regs’ knight and shinning armor! His ability to put much emotion into the most ordinary song elicited a pensive tranquility. His penchant for humor coupled with his soothing and trance-inducing voice made the ladies swooned!
Mr. Total Performer Rico J. was terrific but tart and brassy exuding enough come-on carnality to singe the stage. One should know though that what the audience saw was Rico J.’s trademark brand of humor with the best intentions!
The show opened with Regine, Ogie, and the Amorata fairies singing, dancing and flying (yes flying!) to the tune of Fantasy. From then on, we knew we were in for an enchanting evening!
Regine did her solo with Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Breakaway, and Di Ako Nag-Iisa while Ogie, as he broke through the portal, rendered Pinoy Bands Medley, Kahit Ika’y Panaginip Lang, and his signature ballads of Kailangan Kita and Ikaw Lamang.
Regine and Ogie rendered as beautiful duet songs like Pure Imagination, I Still Believe and Love Songs Medley.
Ai Ai did her share of singing with Enough Is Enough and What Kind Of Fool I Am and a duet with Ogie in Black-eyed Peas Medley.
Rico entered with Huling El Bimbo and did Classic 80’s OPM and Novelty Medley with Regine, Ogie and Ai Ai.
One of the funniest portions of the fantaconcierto and a must-see was Regine’s and Ai Ai’s rendition of Total Eclipse of the Heart. It was absolutely and deliciously funny!
Expectedly, Ogie and Regine did the duet Sa Piling Mo from the 2003 Metro Manila Film Festival Viva Films’ entry Captain Barbell.
For the finale, the ensemble performed Everlasting Love where a marriage took placed that would not only put a big smile on your face but would certainly touch your heart!
Much of Forever After’s effectiveness was in the passion the artists’ conveyed. There was nothing robotic or nervous or mechanical about the fantaconcierto. It was purely a winning combination of timeless songs, brilliant writing, vocal elegance and first-rate performers! Simply a class act and definitely a must-see!
Forever After produced by Starmedia Entertainment starring Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez, Songwriter-singer Ogie Alcasid, Comedy Concert Queen Ai Ai delas Alas, and Mr. Total Entertainer Rico J. Puno will be have its North American debut on Saturday, May 13, at the UCLA Pauley Pavilion at 7:30 P.M. Tickets are now on sale online at www.starmediaentertainment.com or call (818) 549 – 9005 or (818) 547 – 1456.
To view pictures of Forever After Fantaconcierto of Regine, Ogie, Ai Ai, Rico J. and Sharon’s My Mega Valentine concert, log on to joshandowitt.smugmug.com. For comments and questions, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.