Cerrudo...Classico

CERRUDO ... CLASSICO
by Armida Siguion-Reyna
FROM THIS CORNER
August 25, 2007

Flying in from a medical examination in Singapore late last Monday and missing the deadline for my regular Tuesday commentary “No Holds Barred,” likewise in this paper, thank you, there were three other spots in last week’s calendar that I’d been looking forward to. I made it to two, weariness pushed me to miss out on one.

The belated birthday dinner for Mel Chionglo was small and cozy, intimately set only for 12, so we were able to openly talk, and boy, did we cover range, from serious politics to film industry matters, power-trippers, all the way to truly—and I mean truly—shocking showbiz stories. Midway through dinner came a call from Bimbo Cerrudo, regarding his Wednesday night’s show, and I shrieked: “Hindi ba Thursday pa iyon?”

Yes, there’s a Thursday performance next week, for this year’s “Cerrudo… Classico” series at the Teatrino, in the Greenhills Shopping Center Promenade, but that’s a one-time, Aug. 30 thing. All other shows are to run regularly Wednesday nights, until Nov. 29.

This, by the way, is an out and out plug, that takes note of sponsors PLDT, Megaworld, Phil. Daily Inquirer, Dream 106.7, Hugo Boss, Debenhams, Zara, Marks and Spencer, as well as Teatrino, Jarman shoes, Angelo Justin, Mohesaka, Dominique James Photography Studio, San Mig Coffee, C2 Green tea, McDonald’s, Burgoo, KFC, Grilla, Sofreh, Arya, Shinjuku, Samurai — the works.

If you’re the sort who gets offended by promotional material, please be informed this lola only does something of the sort when an undertaking is highly commendable, and that’s what “Cerrudo… Classico” is.

The singing is not only excellent; the production is packaged for sale to small groups out to raise funds for private charities but unable to afford putting up a concert from scratch. Like, a sorority that wants to help a cancer-stricken sorority sister’s chemotherapy, or a college barkada helping an amputee-friend raise money for a prosthetic leg. Nakatulong ka na, nag-enjoy ka pa, can there be any better deal?

The one I saw three nights ago, with Regine Velazquez as special guest, was a Manila Philharmonic Orchestra fund-raiser for concertmaster and violinist Benjie Bautista, who had suffered a stroke. Regine agreed to guest, gratis, and did three numbers: “The Prayer,” as a duet with Bimbo, “What Kind of Fool Am I?” and “If.”

Except for “If,” which was included because it was the beneficiary’s favorite, Regine’s two other contributions fell within the series’ concept of pieces from stage and screen. “The Prayer,” separately popularized by Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, and Josh Groban, was first done by Dion in the Warner Brothers’ animated film Quest for Camelot, and “What Kind of Fool Am I?” is from the Broadway musical Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.

On the whole, the night belonged to Bimbo Cerrudo, arguably one of my sister Irma Potenciano’s favorite voice students, in the six years that he trained under her, at the University of Santo Tomas, from 1983 to 1989. His formal musical education is apparent; very few in the country can comfortably cross from classical to pop to kundiman and back, like he does. And he’s found his niche, I think, as well as a regular audience that appreciates the care that goes into the mounting of his shows.

It’s like a networking scheme that works. This week someone likes what he does, next week that someone is back with a group of friends, so on, and so forth. Proof is in how much the show has grown. The first Classico, in 2005, at the Quisine, in Makati, had a small four-piece band. The second, last year at the Teatrino, had 14 musicians. At present, there are 18, the entire Rhythm Ensemble of the MPO, conducted by Maestro Rodel Colmenar.

Realizing that Bimbo does not shortchange them, or rely mainly on the power of his voice, his audience remains steadily growing, glad not to be taken for granted. It’s for them that Bimbo chooses to work with good people; he’s got theater veteran Freddie Santos at the helm, hence the notable repertoire, the back screen projection of scenes from classical movies, with accompanying choice chismis backgrounders on most of the songs.

Last Wednesday, he opened with “Tonight, We Love (from the musical Skyline Serenade)” and “Be My Love (popularized by Mario Lanza, from the The Toast of New Orleans).” This was followed by film clips, and segued to a medley of “Affair to Remember (from the movie with the same title, with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant,” “As Time Goes By (theme of Casablanca, showcasing the unforgettable tandem of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman),” and “Love is a Many Splendored Thing (which starred William Holden and Jennifer Jones, and was based on the Han Suyin novel).”

It was close as we enthralled oldies could get to memory lane. Particularly interesting was the “Songbook” selection, where snippets were strung together, similar to the style of Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge, featuring Nicole Kidman and Ethan Hawke. While film clips of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers swiftly intercut on the screen, Bimbo was into “Singing in the Rain,” “Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “Dancing Cheek to Cheek.”

Then the MPO did “I’ve Got Rhythm,” one of the famous collaborations between brothers George and Ira Gershwin, from the soundtrack of An American in Paris, with Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, directed by Vincent Minelli. As the music played, I couldn’t help but recall the superb close to 20 minutes of dancing towards the film’s end, the mounting of which cost half a million dollars — in 1951!

The Filipino medley of songs came out well, and there Bimbo did “Maalaala Mo Kaya (from the Carmen Rosales-Rogelio de la Rosa starrer),” “Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak (starring the unforgettable Charito Solis),” and “Kapantay ay Langit,” a George Canseco composition that actually got popular way before it was used in the Sharon Cuneta-Richard Gomez picture directed by Joel Lamangan. Then came “Hahabol-habol,” used in a Lita Gutierrez film, and which I’ve also included it in my “Babae” CD, as a duet with Joey de Leon.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Cerrudo…Classico,” and I am positive you will, too. Notches above most of its kind, at P1, 500 a ticket it is a worthy treat, considering part of the proceeds goes to charitable concerns. For reservations, call Teatrino, at 722-4532, or 0928-7347125.

There is no way you will regret the experience