I first heard about Magnificat The Musical from a friend of mine. From the title itself, I knew right then that the spotlight would be on Mary, the mother of Jesus.
If you’re not yet familiar with the Bible, Magnificat is what Christians call Mary’s song of praise when God revealed to her that she had been chosen to give birth to Christ. Growing up, we used to sing this song in church.
The Magnificat reflects Mary’s relationship with God. Her meekness and her humility to do His will no matter the consequences.
Mary, the Mother
The story of Mary and her virgin birth has become so familiar that we no longer reflect the counter-cultural repercussions of her mere obedience to God’s will.
Mary’s words, “when God speaks His Word, let it be fulfilled in me’‘ sums up Mary’s faith in Him and her full trust in His plans.
During her time, women who get pregnant out of wedlock don’t live. They were stoned to death. Mary knew this in her heart, just as she knew she was taking part in a plan that would include her heart shattering to pieces at some point.
This is what The Magnificat is all about – Mary’s role in the fulfilment of God’s promise to save the world through Jesus.
There were many scenes in The Magnificat that helped me identify with Mary’s motherhood. How she cared for Jesus as a child, worried about him when he was lost (Jesus at the Temple), protected him from those who tried to hurt him (Escaping to Egypt when Herod ordered to kill all male babies), putting him on the spot to jumpstart his ministry (The miracle at a wedding in Cana), allowing him to face life’s adversities on his own (40 days of temptation at the desert), letting him fly on his own to fulfill God’s plans for his life on earth (healing the sick), and finally….standing by him no matter how painful it was to be there (the crucifixion).
The show made me reflect on how I care for my own children. Do I have enough faith in God to entrust my children’s lives entirely in His hands?
If you are a mother, you will understand.
The Voices of Magnificat The Musical
The show features two Mary’s. Last September 27, opening night, it was the beautiful UST Musical Theater major, Alyssa Evangelista, as the young one who received a visit from the angel, Gabriel. and Julliard-trained Soprano, Ana Feleo, as the older Mary who buried her son after his crucifixion.
The show also featured the splendid voices of Aliw Hall of Fame Awardee Tenor, Al Gatmaitan, as the adult Jesus, Kelvin Galano as Joseph, Miguel Aguila as John, the Baptist, and 11-year old choir singer, Neil Bacani, as Young Jesus.
My huband, Jay, and I agreed that the ensemble’s vocal harmony was astounding, but it was Miguel Aguila’s solo at the opening scene of Act 2 (The Baptism scene) that made our jaws drop. What a voice!
We learned later on that Aguila had already earned a number of awards as a child performer and was once a recording artist for Viva and Warner Music Philippines. You may know him more as one of the aspirants who auditioned in this year’s The Voice. He didn’t make it to the live shows, but he shook the ground on this stage. Just wow!
Magnificat happens to be the debut performance of Alyssa Evangelista, whose beautiful angelic face, matched with round, innocent eyes perfectly captured the essence of young Mary’s servant heart.
Mobile Theater and Traditional Costumes
The costumes stayed within tradition. The only bright colors you will see onstage are red for Jesus and navy blue for Mary. The rest were all garbed in white and tan.
I thought that the simplicity of the snake’s costume at the opening, and the dementor-ish angels’ and the demons’ costumes took some imagination on the part of the costume designer, Egay Littua. They were plain, but they did the job.
The show didn’t have a band. In its place is digitally recorded music that played in sync with the performance. The set was practically bare, with only a few, white screens where the actors would sometimes go behind of for silhouette effect.
The answer to why this is so can be found under the new staging’s director, Laurice Guillen’s write-up in the souvenir programme – Magnificat is said to be the most successful religious Filipino musical ever. Its first run boasts of over 200 shows in many different places all over the country. Director Guillen took note and made the set and the direction as mobile as possible for the team to take the show anywhere at any given time.
Magnificat is Opera
Magnificat is an original Filipino opera, with Libretto by Nestor Torre and Music by Ryan Cayabyab.
Pinky Marquez-Cancio, who also played Mary in the original staging of Magnificat The Musical, alternates for the same role in its new staging.
Produced by Lyropera, Magnificat The Musical (The New Staging) will run Saturdays until October 12 at the Music Museum in Greenhills. You can get your tickets at Ticket World.
Special thanks to Mr. Sherwin Sozon, producer, and Mommy Bloggers Philippines.