Theater Review : Gantimpala Theater Foundation' Ibong Adarna


I guess we all grew up embracing the fantasy and mystical story of Ibong Adarna. The tale of this eponymous magical bird has remained alive since the 15th century and we should be grateful enough that this famous epic has become part of our basic curriculum in high school, otherwise, we may not have the chance to explore the wonderful world of Ibong Adarna. Looking back at our old lectures, you might have learned that the author behind this so-called Corrido remains unknown yet others are claiming that it is Jose Dela Cruz or more commonly known as Huseng Sisiw.
Despite of the mystery behind its author, the tale of Ibong Adarna never failed to amuse me. I still remember those coloring books that my mom used to buy when I was a kid and I still remember those funny moments that every time I spotted a colorful bird, I used to associate it with Adarna (well, not until Pokemon came into my life because right now, I would rather name it “Ho-Oh” instead haha).

Don Juan and Ibong Adarna
Kidding aside, Ibong Adarna has been adapted in different forms of media. There were movies and television series that are merely inspired from the series and also there are stage plays that turn this epic story into a much more colorful interpretation much like the recently concluded Ibong Adarna staged by Gantimpala Theater Foundation. Ibong Adarna has been part of the Gantimpala Theater line up along with other classic tales and stories we grew up loving with such as Florante at Laura, Noli Me Tangere (Kanser) and El Filibusterismo to name a few. I was lucky enough to watch their rendition of Ibong Adarna for the very first time and it made me realized a lot of things that are beyond my expectations. First, I realized that maybe I was not listening much to my teacher when I was in high school because there were parts of the story as depicted in the play that I am not really aware with. Second, I learned that Don Juan is not really your typical ideal hero and third, I realized that there is really such thing as “favoritism” in any family and that is something the elders and the middle children should learn to embrace because the “bunso” will always win this battle of attention no matter what haha.

Don Pedro and Don Diego
Gantimpala Theater Foundation’s Ibong Adarna has remained faithful to the original story and the cast were able to deliver it magnificently. As we all know, Adarna follows a story of three princes of Berbania and their journey to find the magical bird Adarna which has the ability to heal their dying father. Don Pedro (Jeff Carpio) and Don Diego (Raymond Talavera) both failed to capture the bird and apparently, both of them were turned into stone. Don Juan(BJ Forbes), however, shared a different fate as he managed to withstand Adarna’s tempting voice and prevent himself from sleeping and being petrified. Thanks to the Ermitanyo (Joey De Guzman) who helped the struggling prince to survive by providing him a knife, lime (dayap) and a golden shoe lace to capture the bird.


Now, here’s the interesting part. The Act I concluded by sharing the victorious journey of Don Juan as he successfully returned to his Kingdom along with the Ibong Adarna. Actually, I thought that the show is over because that is how I always visualize the story of Adarna but little did I know, there is another part of the story that took place after the kingdom of Berbania was brought back to its former harmony. The Adarna was intentionally freed by Don Pedro and Don Diego so the King will blame no one other than his favorite son, Don Juan. This is where the next journey will take place but this time, all the three princes will travel far from their kingdom just to seek for the missing bird. They eventually found a well and decided to explore what’s inside and from there, Don Juan wandered and found two princesses from two different castles including “Doña Juana” (Astrid Hernandez) and “Doña Leonora” (Ellrica Laguardia). Don Juan shared his affection to both princesses yet this “shockingly-playboy-prince” settled down with another princess which is “Doña Maria Blanca” (Kate Butch Weaver) from the far away kingdom of Reyno delos Cristales. Juana and Leonora eventually married Don Juan’s older brothers.

Don Juan and Ermitanyo
What really made the show a lot more entertaining is their witty rendition of the Ermitanyo who also played the Narrator but in a much more enjoying approach. Joey De Guzman managed to provide a hilarious yet entertaining narration by bringing up his guitar and singing his lines in a rock-inspired music. Not to mention his comical lines that gave the audience a good laugh during the play. Bj Forbes on the other hand was such a revelation to me. Although he has been portraying the same character for the past four years, it was my first time to see him in action. Seeing him portraying such mature character is very interesting to me as it allows me to eliminate that child-actor material that I used to see him (way back in his Eat Bulaga days) and change it into a more passionate actor. Overall, Ibong Adarna was a great and entertaining show that I wouldn’t mind watching again next year to see what kind of “attack” the actors will provide or add to turn this stage play adaptation a lot more enjoying yet remaining faithful to its classic plot!
Powerhouse cast of Gantimpala Theater Foundation' Ibong Adarna 
Ibong Adarna is over but you can still catch up the rest of Gantimpala Theater Foundation offerings for their 2016-2017 season including the El Filibusterismo this November, Totong Tipaklong in December and Florante At Laura in January.


More photos at the AXLPowerhouse
Review and photos by : Milton Coyne
Edited by : Axl Guinto


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