You think of OFWs and you immediately think of either the men out at sea or women abroad as domestic helpers or caregivers. Gay OFWs aren't exactly top of mind, least of all how gay male workers band together and share their struggles in order to survive the complexities of living in a foreign land. Out of all the things you can learn from Caredivas the Musical, one thing rings true: Humor will help you, especially in the most rock-bottom moments of your life.
With an insightful and witty script by Liza Magtoto, the hilarious plot weaves itself within Israel around five gay friends: Big-hearted and energetic Chelsea, hot-headed and smart-alec older sis Shai, Miss-not-much-going-on-upstairs and spaced-out Thalia, the uber-talented and hardworking Kayla, and often left out yet aggressive Jonee. Life among extremely traditional Israelis is a challenge for Filipinos even with work and complete papers in a land amidst violent conflict, the dangerously unexpected happens quite often. When we watched the five "Nightingales" were portrayed by Vince de Jesus as "Shai," Ricci Chan as "Kayla," Thou Reyes as "Jonee," Dudz Teraña as "Thalia," and Red Concepcion, Sam Concepcion's brother, as "Chelsea." Here are a five things we learned from the characters in the musical:
1. Your caregiver job description might not give you the illegal fine print about cleaning house and running errands. Some foreign employers only care about what they can get out of your services for free, even if it's not part of a contract. Diligent caregiver Kayla learns this the hard way while experiencing the burden of being treated like a domestic helper in addition to being a caregiver without proper documentation.
Ricci Chan as "Kayla"
2. You make other people's dreams possible when working abroad, yours are simply on cue. Ate Shai is the oldest, most catty, and wisest member of the group. She's also frequently plagued by the venomous words of her mother back home in the Philippines who sends no love and only demands and criticism whenever they're in touch. In Shai's case, the wounds go deep and affect every aspect of her life abroad.
Vince de Jesus as "Shai"
3. You can make life interesting even if you fail at being interesting. The gang's non-deliberate comic relief is the ravishing and sexy Thalia, who by no means manages to misunderstand everything that is going on cheerfully. Thalia is often the victim of Shai's whipping words and sarcasm since she isn't the sharpest blade in the bunch. Still, she tries to help, albeit ineffectively.
Dudz Teraña as "Thalia"
4. If you think your buddy's romantic pursuits are questionable, fight them as needed. Jonee is significantly the largest and dark-skinned member of the "Nightingales" and often the overlooked one when it comes to talent and appeal which is sad, but Jonee is the most honest member of the group when it comes to the protection of everyone and isn't afraid to put up a fight in the name of her friends' welfare.
Thou Reyes as "Jonee"
5. After a long period of time abroad, the idea of going back to your homeland suddenly seems foreign. Last but not the least is the ever sweet and loving Chelsea, who never thinks badly of anyone and always has something hopeful and good to say. Chelsea is the most vulnerable and sentimental of the group, but also the one with an abundance of positive energy. Chelsea finds his patient "Daddy Isaac" endearing and cares for him as he would his own father.
Red Concepcion as "Chelsea"
We watched, we laughed, we tried to sing along (and made up lyrics so we could sing along) and we teared a bit. The play is a merging of Tagalog, English, and random Jewish quips that tell the unique story of friendship, hardship, love, and loss abroad. There is also the complication of relatives back home who don’t fully support the breadwinner but act entitled instead.
The play is made delightfully elaborate by Vincent de Jesus’ musical score under the direction of Maribel Legarda, and characters come to life on stage with wardrobe by costume designer John Abul, lighting designer Jonjon Villareal, a world made by set designer Leo Abaya, and dances that enthrall by choreographer Carlon Matobato.
Here is the entire cast of this current season of Caredivas: PETA artists Melvin Lee, Vince De Jesus, Ron Alfonso, Dudz Teraña, Eko Baquial, Jason Barcial, Buddy Caramat, Gio Gahol, Joan Bugcat, Eric Dela Cruz, Joseph Madriaga, and Gold Villar; plus guest artists Ophir Burton, Ricci Chan, Red Concepcion, Jef Flores, Paul Holme, Sherry Lara, Thou Reyes, Leo Rialp, and Myke Salomon.
CareDivas the Musical is showing from February 3- March 19, 2017 (3:00PM and 8PM shows)
PETA Theater Center, No.5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City
Tickets: VIP- P1,800.00, Orchestra Center- P1,500.00, Orchestra Side- P1,200.00, Balcony Center- P1,500.00, Balcony Side- P800.00, www.ticketworld.com
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Photographs from Instagram.com/mykesalomonfool, wazzuppilipinas.com, whatshappening.com.ph, and ticketworld.com.ph