Puppet Pleasure

It’s been a while.

Almost two hours straight of belly-aching nonstop laughter mingled with a few embarrassed tugs in the heart that elicited a tiny tear or two. And it was all because of puppets.

Well, if you’ve skipped ahead or recognize the photo in this post, then you’d have figured out that I got to see Avenue Q over the weekend at the Carlos P. Romulo theater in RCBC Plaza. This was the 3rd staging of the broadway musical play in Manila, and obviously this was the only time I got to watch it live. All these years, I only got to repeatedly listen to the soundtrack.

Although you can pretty much pick up most of the story through the soundtrack, it’s a whole different story actually watching it live. It’s fun and funny; witty and gritty; downright honest and genuine. It has heart and soul enough to make anyone recognize bits of themselves and parallelisms to their own personal struggles and pain.

Here’s a bit of trivia about Avenue Q: one of its writers and creators, Robert Lopez, is 3/8 Filipino. It’s not on the Internet, but it’s on the programme of the show. He grew up in America, at some point realized that racial discrimation in the country continues to plague the streets. Avenue Q was the manifestation of his pent-up emotions about this pervasive phenomenon.

Truth be told, I don’t have much experience about racial discrimination. I’ve been lucky all my life to evade any negatives on the racial discrimination issue. I’m Filipino-Chinese, you see. In Manila, Filipino-Chinese are generally well regarded. And lucky for me, I have extremely fair skin. The worst I ever got (and it ain’t even bad) is having people always assume that I’m rich. (heck, not all Chinese are rich. Some Chinese don’t even fall under the “middle class” SEC anymore).

But I digress.

I love Avenue Q for its recency, its very apt and accurate representation of the seemingly inconsequential issues that plague our society today. It pokes fun at the little idiosyncracies and the ills, temptations and annoyances of contemporary society – and points out the same things we go through on an almost daily basis.

Think about it. You have a fresh ivy league graduate entering Avenue Q: positive, hopeful and idealistic of his future; thinking that everything will just fall into place for him. Without knowing that when real life happens, it leaves no one unscathed. And then you’ve got child star has-beens who just roam side and back streets looking for a way to continue making a living. And there’s the naive, innocent school teacher who cringes at the thought that ‘internet is for porn’, who falls in love too soon and gets her heart broken when she loses the love of her life — who happens to just be going through a lot of personal s**t and needs to sort things out for himself, and by himself. But of course there’s also the proverbial slut who tries to steal the guy. And oh yes… how can we forget, the closet gay who falls in love with his straight best friend – who is himself a pretty smart guy but somehow ends up on the street passing the hat around.

It’s all so stereotypical. And frankly, looking at it might seem like a truly sad portrayal of real life.

But then, as we do so strongly espouse the silver lining behind every dark cloud, so too does Avenue Q end on an upbeat mood.

“Everyone’s a little bit unsatisfied. Everyone goes around a little empty inside. Take a breath, look around, swallow your pride… for now. Nothing lasts, life goes on… Full of surprises. You’ll be faced with problems of all shapes and sizes. You’re going to have to make a few compromises for now. For now. But only for now…”

Yes. Everything is only for now. So chin up and just let life roll off your back.


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