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“AMPALA – YEAH!”: From the outstanding children’s book “Ampalaya” to an exceptional musical play

Not everyone has a distinct liking to the vegetable ampalaya. It’s a difficult vegetable to appreciate – what with its wrinkled lookthat seems to give off an aura that it is not edible, coupled with extremely bitter taste which makes it difficult to know where to actually mix it with when cooking. In fact, you will oftentimes see ampalaya as a single standing salad dish covered in vinegar. Now, here is an awaited performance about our usual least favorite vegetable - “Ampalaya – the Musical,” a play that got its inspiration from the remarkable and acclaimed children’s book by Augie Rivera Jr.

After long months of practice and preparation, the singing and dancing vegetables stirred to entertain and made the audiences of the Claire Isabel McGill-Luce Auditorium laugh, last September 19-22 with their astonishing meal of performances. Even those who were not fond of eating vegetables went home with smiles and stories to share -- even having thoughts of trying out the vegetable ampalaya in their next meal.

The story revolves around a pale, hairy and bland vegetable – Ampalaya (Mary Anne Ortiz) who is enviously mean to her fellow vegetables: “Luya” (Herman Glenn Magdura), “Kamatis” (Vida Marie Genilla), “Talong” (JJ-Dearson), “Bawang sisters” (Jessah Fhee Jubay, Marianne Grace dela Raya & Ralene Jullianne Ensomo), “Kalabasa” (Nicka Mae Maputi) and “Labanos” (Kamele Marie Maratas). Because of greediness, Ampalaya steals all the features of other vegetables which she doesn’t possess. With the help of the Atty. Malaya (voice over), the other vegetables file a case against Ampalaya to “Ubodman sa Saging” (Onna Rhea Quizo). Ampalaya is then proven to be guilty of her misconduct, which then leads to her major transformation.

Every line was accompanied by the wonderful music of the renowned ensemble, Orkestra Sin Arco. Although there was a technical problem with the lapel, other key pieces down to the tiny details of the show are exemplary. Safe to say, it was a world-class performance they had given to their spectators.

“Ampalaya” gives us a lesson on how to consider life as a rolling wheel and being grateful for what we already have and don’t have, because we are unique for who and what we are. The show cannot be simply expressed as, “Ampalaya – the Musical” but rather, “Ampala – YEAH”, the show that brought out the hidden meaningful legend of the misunderstood vegetable.

The other characters from “Ampalaya – the Musical” are:

(Mustasa) Jyacinth Marie E. Same, (Sigarilyas) Paulynne Joyce R. dela Cruz, (Mani) Andrea Noelle Matalam-Alvarez, (Kamote) Ludgezart A. Tumpag, (Sitaw) Japheth Madarimot Babanto, (Okra) Onna Rhea Quizo, (Siling Labuyo) Lemoine Rey D. Poligrates, (Sibuyas) Jerry Abgelo Z. Catarata and (Ballader) Rigel Suarez.

The artistic staff include:

Dessa Quesada-Palm (Director), Dr. Elizabeth Susan Vista-Suarez (Musical Director) and Ms Patty Yusah, Michael Dadap (Composer and Lyricist), Asst. Prof. Mathilda Limbaga Erojo (Orkestra Sin Arco Director), Angelo Sayson (Choreographer), Lex Marcos (Set designer), John Carlo Pagunaling (Costume designer), and Maria Loren Rivera (Lighting Designer).

By Rhobie A. Ruaya

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