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REVIEW: 'One More Chance, The Musical' introduces Popoy, Basha, and hugot to a new generation

By Susan Claire Agbayani Published Apr 12, 2024 9:17 pm

"She had me at my worst. You had me at my best. Pero binalewala mo lang lahat ‘yon."

I have a confession to make: By the time One More Chance was released theatrically, I was beyond the collective experiences of the Thursday barkada—that is, when most of you are still single and are dating, falling in love, getting engaged, getting married, starting a family; and your career is just about to take off or peak.

But then, I’ve had much younger friends who were really into the film, Popoy and Basha, and their Thursday barkada.

You can bet that avid fans of the movie—who were of the same age group as the barkada (and who kept repeating the hugot lines from the movie throughout their 20s and 30s)—are now pushing 40 or 50. I suspect that they are the ones who will come in droves to the theater in the next few weeks.

The Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) leaves no stone unturned as it stages One More Chance, The Musical, featuring songs from popular band Ben & Ben, whose fans belong are primarily of a younger demographic.

While set to premiere on April 12 on the PETA stage, shows of One More Chance, The Musical, are already sold out! Not even its own writers could secure tickets to get to watch it!

Stage vs. screen

Members of the media and the friends of PETA had the chance to watch the musical a night before its official opening. The musical’s director Maribel Legarda, who is also PETA’s artistic director, was a bit apologetic about the kinks in the production (the battery of Basha’s car conking out on of all nights, the dress technical rehearsal!). These things are to be expected, and how the production dealt well with it is a reflection of the amount of preparation they had, prior to staging.

(And whoever that human being who is responsible for the manual operation of that rotating portion of the stage is, hats off to you!)

A viewer who wishes to remain anonymous remarked, ‘’Yung second floor props, parang intense ‘yung earthquake balancing act. Pati ‘yung part na dance steps ni Popoy na aakyat ng chair then babagsak ang chair, pang Chicago musical ‘yun!” (But doesn’t our very own Mystica do this as well?)

Even if the set (design by Ohm David) is pretty much “barebones,” the production relied on projections (Bene Manaois) onstage, as well as sounds (Myke Salomon): simulations of the beach, projections of calls being made via mobile phones, etc., and choreography (by Michael Barry Que) that add layers to the musical, and makes it distinct from the earlier movie version; and makes the musical, a true product of theater and music.

PETA kept the bulk of the important or crucial scenes of the movie. Including the proverbial hugot lines!

However, because OMC was shown in movie theaters in 2007 – 17 years ago! (where did the time go?) – the musical had to be “updated,” according to its director Maribel Legarda during the reception after the DTR. What may have seemed commonplace back then, may no longer be acceptable today (like, did you notice how “toxic” and controlling indeed Popoy is?!).

J-Mee Katanyag, who is the musical’s assistant director and dramaturg noted how the musical explores mental health themes, such as the journey to self-awareness, navigating “I, We, They” in relationships: relationship dynamics, boundary-setting and assertiveness, anxiety, depression, trauma, mental health stigma, empowerment, and collective care. Isn’t that neat?

Since the production is a musical, of course, it is crucial to relay the messages to the audience through Ben & Ben’s songs. So, it is important that the singer-actors not just be outstanding or good as actors, but as singers as well.

Sam does well as Popoy. Pinas Sadya Founder and Mother Creative Skeeter Labastilla remarked that casting Sam Concepcion for the lead role of Popoy was excellent. “Galeng his acting and character, copy from John Lloyd! Ganda ng three-month rule scene!” (For those unfamiliar with the movie, it just means that you cannot hook up with somebody else until three months after a break-up. Doing so is a big no-no to the one you broke up with!).

Cebu-born-and-bred Sheena Belarmino as Tricia is a delight to hear, what with a singing voice that’s so clear, and with every word clearly enunciated. Apparently, she was Eds (the role of Kaye Abad on TV) in the staging of Tabing Ilog, The Musical.

Also noticeable is Jon Abella as their kabarkada JP. (Well, Popperts performance as Kenneth is no longer a surprise, as people who’ve watched him before can attest).

The success of the box office hit cannot solely be credited to its lead actors John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo. It was also a success because of the ensemble of actors. This holds true even for the musical.

As a member of the audience, you have to be drawn into their world, as though you are also going through every victory, every heartache the members of the barkada are going through. And you feel it through this excellent ensemble of singer-actors. How we wish though that we could watch as well the alternates for the major roles to make a fairer assessment (Kiara Takahashi as Tricia, Paji Arceo as Kenneth, Ada Tayao as Krizzy, Dippy Arceo as Anj, and Jef Flores as Mark).

One More Chance, The Musical,  featuring the songs of Ben&Ben, runs at the PETA Theater Center from April 12 to June 30 this year.  It is dedicated to the loving memory of Queng Reyles who was “pivotal in the germination and development” of the musical.

PETA is located at 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City. Check out for inquiries and information.