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22 October 2011

The Sound of Music

I was surprised to receive a text message from my sister asking me if I wanted to watch The Sound of Music. The musical started its run at the Newport Performing Arts Theater last October 15, 2011. While my family's musically-inclined (we love music, that's all, hehe), we're not into watching plays and musicals. The only play I recall watching with my family was Miss Saigon. And I'm guessing that we only watched that because my family knows how much I love Lea Salonga and Miss Saigon. Oooppss, I'm digressing here. Anyway, I replied to my sister and asked her if it's free. Hindi daw. Hehe. I said okay and she told me she'll let me know once the schedule's finalized.

The following day, my sister sent me another text. My brother got free tickets for The Sound of Music. She wanted to know if Rhuel and I can make it. Of course, we said yes. =)

So last Thursday, my family and I together with Rhuel and Trish went to the Newport Performing Arts Theater to watch The Sound of Music.

The theater was impressive. The seats were very comfortable. Even the arm rests were cushioned. The bright red seats really looked appealing.

There were two wide screens on each side of the stage. I'm sure that's very useful for those who sat far from the stage. Although, honestly, it distracted me sometimes because I didn't know what to look at - the stage or the screen.

The play was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. It began a little past 8. Not bad actually. There were reminders 15, 10, and 5 minutes before the show started. However, they didn't announce a reminder when the play was actually about to start. They just turned off the lights even if a lot of people were still walking to their seats. But I guess that's what you get for arriving late. Hehe.

Before the show started, we bought a souvenir program at P100.00 each. It was cool. Not your typical souvenir program. They put together articles from 1938 and printed them newspaper-like. The inside page contained details about the play.

Joanna Ampil was our Maria. She was brilliant. She sang  so well and she spoke clearly. I understood her lines. She's one fine actress and I'm glad she played the lead role that night.

Our Capt. Von Trapp was Ed Feist. He was okay but he had the tendency to speak too fast or to mumble. Thus, Rhuel and I would look at each other and guess his lines. Too bad we didn't catch Audie Gemora who's the other Capt. Von Trapp. I'm pretty sure we'd understand his lines crystal clear.

The kids were okay. The girls were good actually. But the boys were quite disappointing. I'm not sure if it's because they were off-mic or something. We were all excited to see Atasha Muhlach, Aga and Charlene's daughter. We were lucky that she was playing Brigitta that night. She's cute. She's a mini Charlene Gonzales. Her signing voice was not that spectacular. Perhaps she was nervous. But she spoke her lines well. She had good diction. She had a lot of speaking lines. Her acting still needs improvement. She was self-conscious and tentative at times. I caught her stealing glances at her co-actors and imitate what they were doing. But she's young. She has all the time in the world to work on that. I'm sure this experience will teach her a lot of things.

Pinky Marquez as Mother Abbess was good. The nuns in the chorus were great. Their voices blended well.

I was disappointed with Lynn Shermann who played the role of Elsa. She was effective as a bitchy stepmother-to-be. But her singing voice was terrible. She was off-key a lot of times. Or maybe we just caught her on a bad night? Sayang, Pinky Amador was the other Elsa. Perhaps, she'd be better.

Over-all, the play was okay. They're lucky they can now utilize digital backdrops. I guess that makes life a bit easier for props people. The digital backdrops were very effective in helping the audience envision the place where the scene was taking place. Perhaps they can improve the videos and make them more realistic. Sometimes I had the feeling that they were taken from Sims or Cityville. Hihi.

The sets were impressive, especially the convent and the interior of the Von Trapp's house. However, I think they need to improve/change the chandelier. It looked kinda tacky. For a very rich family, I expected more. It even looked as if it was going to fall off the ceiling. Parang chandelier lang namin sa bahay. Hehe.

They have to do something about the lapel mics. I know it's bound to show and they had to place it in a permanent spot so they don't need to fix it during wardrobe changes. But some were just positioned weirdly. Joanna Ampil's lapel mic was placed on the upper right hand portion of her forehead. For a few minutes there, my sister and I could not figure out if she had a mole or if a fly was permanently perched on her forehead. It took a while before we realized that it was actually her mic. I was also bothered with Ed Feist's mic which was taped on his cheek. They used a skin tone colored adhesive but it was too obvious to ignore. I think the weird positioning of the mics was the problem for the Von Trapp boys too. We had a hard time comprehending their lines. I'm pretty sure there's a better way to do it.

Rhuel and I were also puzzled why some of the characters spoke with British accents. They're supposed to be  Austrians right? The accent didn't come out naturally for all of the characters, thus, we could not understand their lines. If they wanted to do it that way, they should have trained everyone to speak the British way.

Rhuel complained that the story was not as tight as the one in the movie. I guess time constraint's a factor plus the fact that they had to do it live. He also pointed out that they interchanged songs for some scenes. So I believe he's going to torture me by making me watch the movie this weekend. Hihi.

Over-all, the musical was good. It was a nice experience. I don't think Pinoys are well-versed theatrically and it's about time that we make this part of our culture. I hope we get to see more international plays/musicals being staged here. Hopefully, the prices won't be too steep so people will be encouraged to watch. It helps that the Newport Performing Arts Theater is nearer and more accessible (to us at least, hehe) than the usual venues for plays like CCP. I hope to watch more musicals here. =)

02 October 2011

Hong Kong, Day 5, Can't Get Enough of Shopping

I'm not really into shopping. Promise. I love window shopping but I'm not fond of buying stuff. When we were planning the trip, I just had one thing in mind. I wanted to buy a bag because my bag was kinda old already. Tuesday was supposed to be Ocean Park day. But because we didn't see much of Mong Kok the night before and because I didn't have a bag yet, my siblings proposed that we skip Ocean Park. I was okay with the plan. Rhuel agreed because he said he was outnumbered. Hehe.
We ended up at Causeway Bay again. This time we found Times Square. 

The shops were closed when we got there so we had breakfast at Mc Donald's first. I had sausage muffin with hash brown and coffee.
After breakfast, Barney and I went around the shops in Times Square. Ang mahal. Hehe. We enjoyed asking for prices of stuff we can't afford. Hehe. I found a reasonably-priced bag which I loved. Now I can go home. Hehe. 

I also got my 2012 Moleskine planner from City Super. Excited lang.
While waiting for the others, we had ice cream at Ben and Jerry's. Yum!

We skipped lunch. Rhuel and I had to leave for the airport by 3:30 p.m. (the others were taking the later flight), we decided to have lunch at the airport to make the most out of our remaining time in Hong Kong.
We headed to Mong Kok because Barney and Trish wanted to check out the other stalls. I only had one request. We had to go to Giordano because we still needed to buy some more pasalubongs. We finally found the Giordano in Mong Kok. Rhuel, Barn, and I hoarded stuff there. We had to make sure our purchases amounted to HKD1,200.00 because that will entitle us to a HKD300.00 discount. We didn't have a hard time reaching that amount. Hehe. Rhuel got 4 polo shirts, we got 3 pasalubong polo shirts, Barney got 4 pairs of socks, I got 3 pairs of boxer shorts for pambahay, and Barney and I got 1 pair of jeans each. Yey!

We went to SaSa to get pasalubongs for Nanay, Mama, and Tita Aging. Done with shopping finally! =)
It was time to head back to Yiu Fai to pick up our stuff. After repacking our things, Rhuel and I had to leave for the airport. We took the MTR to Central then the Airport Express to the airport.
As soon as we got off the Airport Express, we saw the MTR info center. We returned our Airport Express card to refund our HKD50.00 deposit and whatever remained in our Octopus Card. We got HKD100.00+ refund each. =)

We checked in and had lunch at Maxim's afterwards. We both had wanton noodles. They didn't have service tea. We ordered bottled waters and they served us Watson's mineral water at 5x the price, I think. Boo.

After lunch, we checked out the shops. I had to buy chocolates. We cannot not buy chocolates! We finally found a shop near our boarding gate. Panic buying for me. Hehe. Galing naman because we were able to use all of our HKD for the chocolates. We even got a free bag.
Then it was boarding and bye-bye time. =( 

Hong Kong will always be a memorable place because I spent my 18th birthday there. My family and I had happy memories there. I will always remember it with fondness. It's more special now because I had the chance to visit it with my husband. I love how fast everyone moves in that place. Even their escalators are super fast, you'd fall off if you're not alert. I'm amazed at how efficient their public transpo system is. Of course, there's no place like home. And between Hong Kong and Singapore, I still believe the latter is a better place to settle down. But Hong Kong is still lovely and I won't mind going back there again. =)

Here's hoping that Rhuel and I can pull off that travel dream ala Patty Laurel. Hihi. ;-)

Hong Kong, Day 4, Lights and Mongkok

We got off at the Tram station and it was time to head to the ferry terminal. We took a double decker bus with an open second floor. It was really cool. =)
Justify Full

At the terminal, we took the ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui. The ride was really short.

It was almost 8 p.m. when we got to Tsim Sha Tsui.
We got there just in time for the Symphony of Lights. It's a lights show where a number of the skyscrapers located in Central show off their lights. It's soooo cool. Unfortunately, Rhuel's camera batt died on us. We had to make do with my ugly phone cam.

Afterwards, we walked along the Avenue of Stars. This place used to be my favorite. But it seemed to have lost its magic. We didn't know any of the stars. Hehe. It was too crowded and there were several stores in the harbor. I used to dream of going back to Hong Kong with the one I love and the 2 of us will take a stroll in this area. I was back with the love of my life but it was not magical. I miss the old harbor.

It was dinnertime. We had to take a bus to our dinner place. However, we decided to drop off our stuff at Yiu Fai first because our bags were kinda heavy. We got to Yiu Fai first and Rhuel charged his batt while waiting for the others. We didn't know what was taking them so long. I asked the receptionist if they arrived already and he told me, "No." I think we didn't understand each other. They were there all along but Barney broke their key so it had to be replaced. Hehe.
It was quite late when we went out again. We didn't have the energy to look for Toto's recommended dinner place. We ended up at KFC. Good for me because I've been craving for their biscuits. My siblings were teasing me and Rhuel that our orders were for party for two. Ang dami. Hehe. Each of us ordered 2 pieces chicken, honey-flavored biscuit, and egg tart. Yum. The egg tart was better compared to the one in Macau. Would have loved to try the chocolate egg tart too. But it would have been a party for 3 already if we did that. Hehe. The biscuit was disappointing. I loved the unflavored biscuit before. The honey-flavored one was not that yummy.
After the heavy dinner, it was time to head to Mong Kok for night market shopping. We got there at around 10:30 p.m., I think. Unfortunately, a lot of shops were closing. Boo. We had to walk really fast to check out the shops. I ended up buying 3 Pooh sleeping clothes at 3 for HKD100.00. I also bought my pasalubongs for my officemates. Rhuel got us some more magnets. And that was it. It was too scary haggling with these vendors. You ask them the price and they'll never let you go. One held my hand super tight and I was afraid she was going to kidnap me. Hehe. Lesson learned: don't ask if you don't intend to buy.

We were supposed to meet at 12 midnight but we met earlier than that. We saw Barney and Trish plopped on the sidewalk.

We decided to go back to Yiu Fai. Toto was there already.

Last sleeping night in Hong Kong. *sigh*

Hong Kong, Day 4, Memories of Causeway and The Peak

Monday was exciting because we got to visit Causeway Bay again. Tatay's flat was in Causeway (Hong Kong Mansions on Yee Wo Street) so we had a lot of happy memories there. And Causeway's a popular shopping district so the girls were really looking forward to this day.

First stop was at the Hong Kong Mansions. We took a couple of pictures in front of the building so we can show them to Tatay. We're sure he'll have a nice time reminiscing.
Afterwards, it was time to eat breakfast. We decided to eat at McDonald's in Causeway. I ordered the Hotcake Deluxe - bondat grabe - 3 pieces of hotcake, one sausage, one hash brown, and coffee.
Shopping time after breakfast. First stop was at Ikea. Grabe, we love Ikea. Our eyes were popping while checking out their displays. Everything was nice. We wanted to buy everything. Hehe. And the prices were reasonable. I really wish they'll open a store here in the Philippines. It's better than Gourdo's, one of our favorite shops here. We ended up buying 11 picture frames (we don't know where to put all of them though, hehe.), a steel colander for our pastas (yey!), and a magnetic knife holder (we've been looking for one for the longest time). It was a very fulfilling shopping trip. =)
Next stop was Sogo. Sogo is heart too. There were a lot of nice shops there. High end nga lang. I was not able to get anything there. Rhuel finally got a Liverpool jersey. Yey.
It was time to leave Causeway. We decided to skip Stanley Market and Repulse Bay because we were running out of time. We were going straight to The Peak. We took the tram on our way to the Peak Tram station. We're glad that we were able to try all of their public transportation.

We got off one station ahead of the Peak Tram station. Hehe. We must have looked lost. Good thing a Pinoy was there. He told us to walk to the station. Blessing na rin because we were able to go inside the Pacific Place mall. I remember it as one of the nicer malls there.
We hiked to the Tram station. It was really exhausting especially because we have not eaten lunch yet. We had to buy drinks when we got to the station. We bought our tickets at around HKD220.00 per person. We were not able to use our Airport Express discount voucher because the ticket was already discounted. The ticket includes round trip Peak Tram rides, entrance to the Sky Terrace and Madame Tussaud's.
The line to the Tram was quite long. There were a number of tourists too even if it was a weekday. Some tourists tried to ride the Tram without lining up. Good thing we were near a really feisty Chinese guy who scolded these tourists and told them to go to the end of the line. 2 foreigners insisted that someone told them to go to the front of the line. Kapal. But they lined up behind our feisty Chinese friend. Hehe. I thanked the Chinese guy afterwards and we both agreed that the tourists were really unfair.
When we got to The Peak, Rhuel was antsy because he needed to charge his camera's battery. He forgot to bring his charger and we had to buy one earlier that day. It was a good deal actually because we got an allegedly quick charger with a car charger for roughly HKD200.00. He stayed in one spot to charge his batt.
Barney had to buy a pair of shorts from Adidas. Disaster. Hehe. Won't tell you the story, my sister might kill me. But she really looked like a jogger. Hahaha.
After running around doing our own stuff, we decided to eat lunch because we were really hungry. Lunch was at the Spaghetti 360. I ordered soup with puff pastry and spaghetti with tomato sauce. It was good. Or maybe I was really hungry? Rhuel had pork chop, I think. We were not able to take pictures of our orders (as in our previous meals) because we were always having late meals. We were too hungry to lift the camera. Hehe.
After lunch, it was time to go to Madame Tussaud's. It was okay. The wax figures were great. Rhuel had a nice time posing with the celebrities. Hehe. But I think Ripley's (which used to be there) was better. Ripley's had other attractions apart from the wax figures. Madame had nothing much to offer.

Afterwards, we headed to the Sky Terrace. The view there was really breathtaking especially when you witness the transition from day to night. It's lovely to see the buildings light up. *sigh* And the air there's really cool and fresh. Rhuel wishes we can have something like that in Antipolo or Tagaytay.

We stayed at the Terrace for around 30 minutes then it was time to leave. The line to the Tram was quite long again. And the tourists were more annoying this time. The tourist guide went in front of the line. We thought she was going to the Tram operator's room to inquire about something. Then her minions began arriving. They were old people who pushed their way around to get in front of the line. Nakakainis. My companions and I agreed that we can't allow these unfair people to get what they want. I suddenly missed our Chinese guy friend. Hehe. When it was boarding time, Toto and Trish were pushed back to the end of the line. Only Trish was able to sit down. Toto had to share Trish's seat. Tsk.