The Legends and The Classics Encore (Review)

The Legends and The Classics: Encore
Fr L-R: Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, Cecile Licad, and Lea Salonga
Photo c/o: Philstar.com

It was exactly 19 months ago when I wrote a review about the first The Legends and The Classics concert. It was a concert collaboration between Lea Salonga, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, and Cecile Licad. I loved that concert; I've wanted a repeat. But I must admit, when I found out that the repertoire will be the same, it saddens me a bit. I was kinda hoping that they would make some changes so even though I'm happy about the Encore, I wasn't that thrilled as I used to whenever we have a LEAdventure. But after seeing both performances from tonight and last night, I'm just glad that I decided to see it twice... again.

Before I went to CCP to watch the show last Saturday, I told myself I'd (try) forget everything about last year's concert and just enjoy the performance as if it is the first time I will be seeing it. When I blogged about it a year ago, I pointed some of the things I love and don't like. But judging from both shows this year and last, the Encore was definitely (way) better than the 2012's The Legends and The Classics. Even the ballet numbers (which I practically trashed last year) were better (despite a few precision issues). It's definitely one of those shows that is, in Lisa Macuja-Elizalde's own words, worth restaging.

It's so weird because no matter how much I enjoy listening to strings, I could never really appreciate classical music. Out of the three of them, only Cecile Licad changed her repertoire entirely. To be honest, I'm glad she did. I enjoyed them better this year than the first run. She was so fun to watch and so good in her own way. There was even a moment when I wonder what was going through her head while playing. I may never be a fan of the things she played, but it was definitely more enjoyable than last year.

The first run of The Legends and The Classics in 2012 was the first time I've ever seen Prima Ballerina Lisa Macuja perform live on stage. And while I honestly didn't like a lot of the group numbers in last year's run, I have nothing bad to say about THE Lisa Macuja. Last year, seeing her in the The Dying Swan number moved me and made me fall in love with classical ballet for the first time. It was also during that particular number that made me understand why she is considered as one of the country's best ballerinas we've ever had. It was weird because as I was watching her last Saturday, her performance sort of reminded me of The Ugly Duckling's story. She was great last year, but there was something different this year; it could be because of her forthcoming retirement but for me, it doesn't seem like she's dancing. It was as if she's pouring her heart out on stage and expressing her love for dance through movements.

Aside from her passionate performance that clearly resonated on stage, it was her center and extension that I love the most. All of her turns are spot-on; her extensions go on forever. I was actually a bit surprised to see how small she was when I met her (on stage) after last night's final performance. I remember one of our dance teachers once said that just because you're small doesn't mean you can't appear tall on stage, and this is something not all dancers can achieve. When Lisa raises her arm and points her toes, she looks ten feet tall. What I love most about her performances was that it wasn't just that she was a (very) good technical dancer, she's also a storyteller.

This year, the ever-confusing Disney medley (from the first run) was cut. Lea said that it was cut because it was too long but for some reason, I was actually kinda waiting for that number and was a bit disappointed when I didn’t hear it this time. Other than that, Lea’s repertoire remain the same as last year. I love the Broadway medley, though. I've seen her perform those songs countless times but I will never get tired hearing the songs she's best at - musicals. Lea Salonga’s Defying Gravity this time was stronger and more powerful than ever (even if a part of me wants to give drummer dude a very hard pat on the back for kinda messing up towards the end last Saturday - or maybe it was just me).

I was also left in awe when she sang I'd Give My Life for You. Miss Saigon was one of the first musicals I fell in love with and its songs were something I will never get tired hearing. I also get to appreciate the Legrand medley more this time; not only was Lea's singing perfect, the Ballet Manila improved A LOT on that number, too! And sometimes, I can't help but wonder: how come Lea gets better every freaking time? How was that fair? :p

You have to admit, Maestro Gerard Salonga was a rock star, too! Sometimes, I can't help but look at him and observe while he is conducting. Aside from his awesome arrangements, I've always loved how he performs. It's almost like he's on his very own limbo whenever he's flicking his baton.

The only thing that makes me kinda sad about this run was the fact that they didn't do as many numbers together. They only performed together practically in the beginning, the end, and the encore. Oh, that encore! It was so touching, it made me cry the minute Lea Salonga started singing What I Did for Love. It was the perfect song for the three of them! Other than that, I'm very happy about this run. It was almost perfect.

AFLS Family Picture: The Legends and The Classics Encore 2013
Fr L-R: Noel, Tin, Nic, Me, Jeff, Lea, and Betsy
Photo c/o Jeff

I came to The Legends and The Classics really as a Lea Salonga fan, but the encore number sent tears to my eyes. Last year, I wonder why Lea chose to sing a few of those songs and it was only last night's performance that I get to understand why: it's all sort of a tribute for Lisa Macuja's final year as a performer. I noticed this when Lea did Hahanapin Ko after she announced that this year is going to be one of Lisa's final performances. You see, I wasn't really a big fan of classical ballet or Lisa Macuja, but I admire all of her achievements, as well as everything that she has done for this country. However, as a dancer myself, it was a great disappointment to hear that a perfect performer like her would soon retire. And as I walk the halls of the Cultural Center of the Philippines yesterday before the final performance, I knew it'd probably be the last time I will get to see her perform live on stage. Nevertheless, it was an honor to witness such an excellent artistry brought to life that is The Legends and The Classics.

"Imitating may be the best form of flattery, but not the best form of writing."

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