July 26 was a rainy Wednesday night in the Metro. Typhoon Gorio had already entered the country, but that didn’t stop the crowd from flocking to the Music Museum in Greenhills thanks to Stages Sessions.
They held on to their yellow tickets that had Best Seat in the House feat. Rony Fortich printed on it. The buzz began to maximize as the growing assemblage patiently waited for the house to open. The people were ready to hear the premiere accompanist whisk them away to a night of uncustomary music.
The Man of the Hour
After holding the title of Hong Kong Disneyland’s Musical Director for 12 years, maestro Rony Fortich packed his bags and flew back home. It’s not that Hong Kong was lacking anything; he simply felt like his job there was done. He knew it was time to come back and involve himself in the Philippine music and theater scene.
“This show is my farewell to Disney, and my hello to Manila and everything it has to offer.”
Best Seat in the House
Rony believes that the best seat in the house is where he sits: behind the piano. From there, he can see the accompanying musicians and the gleam of the audience.
The show kicked off with an original about what it’s like to move on from a job in the happiest place in the world. There is the connotation that all “happily ever after”s end in Disneyland, so he asks himself what one does after. Fellow performers crossed the stage as Disney characters much to Rony’s surprise, giving a lighter tone to the otherwise quite melancholic tune.
Family and friends from the music and theater scene converged to sing a song or two with the virtuoso. This birthday-tradition-turned-concert proved the affinity within the circle. Competition between thespians had died; they were now building each other up to be the best they can be.
The guest performers created their own renditions of popular theater songs. Fred Lo spit that supa hot fire with a number from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s adored musical, ‘Hamilton’. Sweet Plantado-Tiongson accompanied her son Gabo as he took the lead in ‘My New Philosophy’ from ‘You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown’—a song Sweet performed herself when she played the role of Sally. Blowing us away with her soothing version of ‘Beautiful City’ from ‘Godspell’ was none other than Keiko Necesario, quickly followed by Bituin Escalante’s emotionally and vocally powerful piece. Jon Santos‘ fiery performance in drag made use of an all-white dress and a projector, adding a layer of visual delight for the audience.
As the show came to an end, the ensemble convened on stage to perform songs from the classic musicals ‘Katy’ and ‘Rent’. Spectators gave a standing ovation and their claps echoed the hall. Best Seat in the House, just like the others before it, was a knockout. Surrounded by his clan and comrades, the musical ace felt right at home.
So what’s next for Rony Fortich? Relax and spend time with loved ones. Don’t sleep on him though—he’ll be back before you know it.
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