For a videoke-loving country like the Philippines, Ako si Josephine is a stark reminder that music has more power than just being an “outlet” for artists to “express” their passion.
Set in dystopian Alegra, Ako si Josephine is Josephine’s (played by Via Antonio) journey of falling in love and the actualization of her lifelong dream to make better and stress-relieving music for the Musiconomy.
Josephine’s love interest is her boss, Chinito, played by JP Valdes, who happens to be Alegra’s lead composer, but who apparently also hopes to make a change like the lead star.
It was believed that people are becoming apathetic and insensitive in Alegra after being exposed to the lone kind of allowed music in the city called HYP (“happy, youthful, purposeful” or could also be considered hypnotic, given its effects).
The artificial intelligence Monotomia, played by Jon Santos, along with his three cohorts, are responsible for flogging Josephine and Chinito to work nonstop in order to produce the HYP music as mandated by his boss known as the Konduktor.
As a musical about music, the show’s highlight was the different versions and interpretations of Yeng’s songs from all her original studio albums. This approach established the show’s target audience which are clearly Yeng’s fans called the Yengsters and those who are curious about what the Pop Rock Princess has put into the music industry for the last 10 years.
It was refreshing to hear the new versions of Yeng’s famous hits like the jazz version of “Pag-Ibig,” the piano version of “Pangarap Lang,” the slow version of “Chinito” and the choir version of “Paano ba Ang Magmahal.” To make the most out of the songs, there were also mash-ups like “Messiah” and “Lapit,” among others.
But what was rather exciting and worth lauding, was how they made use of Yeng’s less than popular hits (which she included on her proposed song list) like “Sandata,” “Wag Kang Magtanong,” “Josephine,” “Pasensiya Na” and “Hahanapin Kita.”
Despite “bending” the arrangement of some of her hits, the show stayed true and used the exact same arrangement of some of her iconic songs like “Hawak Kamay,” “Ikaw,” “B.A.B.A.Y,” “Jeepney Love Story,” “Salamat” and her Pinoy Dream Academy song “Pangarap Lang.”
The story was not flawless as there were storylines that dragged on and were left unresolved. For one, there was the repeated mention of a certain Isla Sintonados, where the obstinate members of the society were exiled. However, there was never a clear and solid picture, even in the heads of the cast members themselves, as to what is really in store on that island.
Then there was Monotomia’s boss Konduktor, which is one big loose end whose backstory was abruptly revealed (that he was actually the one who’s benefitting from the HYP music and not Monotomia).
Despite the imperfections, the story managed to stay light thanks to Via and Jon’s acting, along with his three cohorts and Josephine’s friends called the Syncopados. The use of music-related terms for character names among some of the cast was also clever, even though it wasn’t as consistent as we hoped.
Overall, it was a fair attempt at showcasing real talent by really talented inpiduals. The potential of the story needs a little more polishing and trimming down because the musical ran for almost three hours but still had several loose ends. Nevertheless, the show is worth giving it a shot especially since Yeng’s hits were given the spotlight.
Catch Ako si Josephine from September 8 to October 9 at the Peta Theater. For tickets call 891-9999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.