Binondo - A Tsinoy Musical starts with a statement that it is based on true events. With a tagline asking if it's better to love or be loved, one must be prepared for heartache.
In the 1970's, Chinese Ah Tiong takes a vacation in the Philippines, where he meets the singer Lily performing Binondo. The two fall in love but circumstances tear them apart.
The story is a rather simple one, comparable to Miss Saigon and perhaps local movies in the 80's. There's a love triangle, there's forbidden passions and so, so much drama. It's a very Filipino type of plot, sure to be a crowd pleaser among the masses, if they could mainstream it. My friend actually cried several times at what he described as the most genuine of parts. It's not just love though. Comedy abounds, yes, as evidenced by the magical auto translation and various asides. One can't help but laugh at the antics of the clownish koro or the presentation of the red lit sign later on.
Of course, what's to watch for would be the singing and performances. The first scene at the Lotus club stands out the most for me but everything else is to be applauded. There's special effects of dancing dragons in the beginning and staged protests in the middle but also lower keyed sorrowful solos and heart rending duets. The exotic love making presentation is quite acrobatic to see when one isn't ensorcelled by the music. The performers all did commendable work.
The attention to the clothes and props are quite astounding, with a model of the deity of love Ge Lao on stage. The fashion of the decade and location is well presented, from the night club of Binondo to the militaristic China. The production design is quite innovative with the sets, having a staircase with a high entry to pull off a proper airplane farewell scene. The letter writing screen is quite haunting and the simultaneous duel sets were quite effective. Good job.
There were slight technical problems with the sound but one would still be swept away with emotions at watching this love story. One can still catch their shows on July 7 and 8, 2018 at 3pm and 8pm at the Theatre at Solaire Resort and Casino.