Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
DEMENTED, DELIGHTFUL, DERANGED DE JESUS the title said it all. There is no one as funny, insane and brilliant all at the same time as composer Vincent De Jesus. That is what people witnessed in his TRIPLE THREATS series concert last September 24, 2015. The CCP Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino had howls of laughter and audiences were also moved by the touching and inspiring music by De Jesus.
Participating artists include: Kalila Aguilos, Jed Balsamo, May Bayot, Raflesia Bravo, Nar Cabico, Joshua Cabiladas, Natasha Cabrera, Buddy Caramat, Ricci Chan, Red Concepcion, Erick Dizon, KL Dizon, Frenchie Dy, Bituin Escalante, Hans Eckstein, Topper Fabregas, Neomi Gonzales, Reuben Laurente, Melvin Lee, Kim Molina, Mikoy Morales, Red Nuestro, Giannina Ocampo, PJ Redullida, Victor Robinson, Niño Royeca, Myke Solomon, Ali Santos, Markki Stroem, Kakki Teodoro, Sweet Plantado Tiongson, Dudz Teraña, Eula Valdes, Cris Villonco, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and The CompanY. The show is directed by Rem Zamora.
What distinguishes Vincent Abenojar De Jesus from other multi awarded composers, librettist, musical scorers, is that he is a performer himself. Being a film and stage actor, he is comfortable with singing as well. Vince as he is known to his friends, multitasks as record producer and educator too. He majored in Piano and Voice at the University of the Philippines Diliman, College of Music.
He has a unique musical style that is very distinct. Menchu Lauchengco Yulo is co Artistic Director of Resort’s World Manila (with Michael Williams). She also plays Edith in Bituing Walang Ningning a hit musical playing from October to January 2016 at the New Port Performing Arts Theater, RWM.
Menchu has worked with Vince in KUNG PAANO AKO NAGING LEADING LADY and offers a way to describe this unique style, “I think Vince’s work is amazing, it’s very dramatic it lends itself to theatricality. I love his melodies. His lyrics are so poetic. So it’s really quite beautiful. I’ve not heard all of his music. I heard it in this concert and I am in awe. In awe of his harmonies, and the way he writes his music its really geared for emotion the way he sets the notes and everything, he’s amazing. I love the music of HIMALA. I love the music of JUAN TAMAD because it reminds me of Sondheim. Its very dissonant and not your typical melody he’s kind of known for that. I learned that in LEADING LADY that where you think the note is going to go its not going to go there. It was hard to learn the music. But once it comes together its really, really good.”
TRIPLE THREATS series for this year features the composers. Jesse Lucas FULL RANGE was August, Vince’s DEMENTED, DELIGHTFUL, DERANGED DE JESUS happened in September. Next up is Rony Fortich’s BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE2- October 22, 2015.
Menchu has been very fortunate to work with both Vince De Jesus and Rony Fortich. She describes Fortich’s work, “Rony’s style is very different. He’s more on the Broadway melodies. The music he’s written is not exactly dark. So its very different from Vince’s which, is HIMALA and it has darkness to it. Rony’s really light. SO it’s very different. I would like to see the different composers and figure out the different styles. It’s only now that I’ve heard all the other Vince’s music and I’m like wow beautiful.”
Menchu also has a suggestion for next year’s TRIPLE THREATS series, “I am thinking they should do something like a comedy, comedian’s series who can perform. You have like a Jon Santos where they can do all three: comedians, singers, actors. It’s an interesting concept.” Jon Santos is also in BITUING WALANG NINGNING. He shares the role of Auntie along with Epy Quizon.
Sheila Francisco is an accomplished theater performer having had her own TRIPLE THREAT series in 2014. She will also be part of Fortich’s upcoming BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE, “He did the music for BLUE BIRDS a musical for children about 2 years ago. There’s a number there sung by Karla Laforteza. He has rearranged that number into a gospel kind of an arrangement. SO I am looking forward to that as well. Karla and I are going to duet it. That’s the other facet of that threat which is the arrangement. The Company, Menchu Lauchegnco Yulo, Audie Gemora will be there. A lot of artists will come out. I can’t wait there are children. Sweets son, Shiela Valderrama-Martinez’s daughter will be in it.”
Shelia is a fan of Vince’s, “My favorite work of his is in HIMALA. That was just arresting and powerful. That’s when I first met Vince really. I saw the playful side of Vince. He’s a multi talented music man. He is an actor and singer maybe that’s why because he is able to do those things too. He experiences it himself; he knows how to interpret music. He’s got that in mind. He has the actor in mind when he makes the music.”
PETA & Friends
Vince De Jesus hectic schedule made it difficult to prepare for this momentous project. But through the help of PETA and his many friends in theater, stage, film and TV performers he was able to pull through. He said, “I went to Spain I went to Korea I barely had a month to prepare for the show. When I came back panic na ko. I was in Spain for a project for PETA and then R&R na rin. We went to Korea for a conference (Federation for Asian Culture Promotion, he was there to share the Philippine musical theater experience). Tinignan ko budget oh my God I asked for PETA’s help. The PETA Theater center helped me line produce this. I was supposed to do the Mood Swings thing. Nagvolunteer, nagvolunteer, nagvolunteer, before I knew it 32 na. Guys di naman ito multimillion. Sabi, We’ll gladly d o it for you. This is not just about me, songs are just songs. These are friends I’ve worked with and continue to work with for a long time. This is about us actually.”
Asked to describe his own work he laughs and says, “Nakaka pagod ituro.” (Laughs)This is owing to the unpredictable melodies, where the music goes where people don’t expect it to go sometimes. He explains, “I don’t do it purposely its just feeling it should go here. But sila May Bayot sanay na yan. Dulce mga first batch. Sila Red Concepcion dinadoubt pa sarili doon ba? Don ba talaga? Si Menchu sang MAN OF STEEL a very simple song (from SONGS TO SLASH YOUR WRISTS BY). May mga huh pop siya bakit na punta doon? Once you learn it you remember it, memorize it, it becomes you. Make it your own.”
The Opening number showed off Vince’s ability on the piano and his vocals. While on the piano he sang KUWENTO NG KABABALAGHAN from JUAN TAMAD with The Chorale. Also from JUAN TAMAD are PARA SAAN PA? Performed by Victor Robinson III & Mikoy Morales. Vince was part of that prestigious PETA production as actor/singer in 2009.
BATANG RIZAL a musical in 2007, was warmly received by both critics and audiences. It was excerpted for this concert by Kakki Teodoro and Natasha Cabrera- MINSAN MAY ISANG GAMU GAMO. While Victor Robinson III, Mikoy Morales & The Chorale performed PAG-ASA NG BAYAN.
I thought it was particularly creative to have Vince’s film work in CRYING LADIES to be accompanied by a dance interpretation by Raflesia Bravo & Ali Santos. Initially while watching the performance you’re fully convinced the pair are two female dancers. Upon close inspection of the names (in the program) one realizes Ali Santos is male underneath the wig, make up and dance tights. During their bow, Santos took off his wig revealing that he was indeed a gentleman.
The hilarious Ricci Chan showed his vocal range in TWENTY FOUR YEARS OLD from Vince’s album SONGS TO SLASH YOUR WRISTS BY. KL Dizon had a touching rendition of SABIHIN MO SA AKIN from Kampanerang Kuba.
Perhaps one of the most popular works of Vince is in ZSA ZSA ZATURNNAH THE MUSICAL. Rightly so, there was a prominent number dedicated to this runaway hit: Eula Valdes sang BABAE NA AKO & MULTO NG NAKARAAN (w Red Concepcion), Ricci Chan & Joshua Cabalidas duetted WALANG IBANG PANGARAP. Red Nuestro & The Chorale sang IKAW ANG SUPERHERO NG BUHAY KO.
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