He is not faster than a speeding bullet, nor is he more powerful than a locomotive and he cannot leap tall buildings in a single bound – he becomes a she, and she is Zsazsa Zaturnnah, the Philippines newest, zaniest, and funniest superheroine. Zsazsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal has put back the zest in the theater scene in the Philippines.
Based on Carlo Vergara’s Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Award winning Ang Kagila-gilalas Na Pakikipagsapalaran Ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah, a 2-part graphic novel about a parlorista gay named Ada who transforms into Zsazsa Zaturnnah by swallowing a mysterious stone that fell from the heavens. Zsazsa defends her small town from a giant frog, rampaging zombies, Queen Femina Suarestellar Baroux together with her Amazonistas from Planet X, and while doing all these, she captures the heart of the handsome debonair, Dodong.
Zsazsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal is as zany and witty as the comic book. Once you hear the famous line “Yu get yor big prag en go hom en plant kamote, yu samababits, maderpaker shet!!”, you are definitely hooked. Zsazsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal is one of the best laugh you will get this year – this is the ROTL (rolling on the floor laughing), LOL (laughing out loud), and DDF (drop dead funny) play of the year.
Eula Valdez is perfect as Zsazsa Zaturnnah - her strong singing and speaking voice, sexy body, irresistible lips, and competent acting brings Zsazsa Zaturnnah to life. Her arch enemy Queen Femina Suarestellar Baroux is played with less zest and energy by Agot Isidro. Isidro often sounds like she is losing gas and oxygen while singing. Tuxqs Rutaqio’s Ada, though competent, is eclipsed by the delightful performance of Ricci Chan as Didi, Ada’s best friend and parlor assistant. Chan’s Didi emerges as the unexpected star of Ze Muzikal, with her laugh out loud, drop dead funny lines delivered in sometimes deadpan manner and perfectly timed adlibs, almost stealing the show from Zsazsa and Ada. Arnold Reyes as Dodong has the perfunctory sexy body complete with noodles for abs but his singing voice is weak and his characterization bland. Wilma Doesnt, Deeda Barretto, Mayen Estañero and Tess Jamias are all fabulous as Amazonistas Dina B., Vilma S., Sharon C., and Nora A. Mia Bolanos is hilarious as Aling Whitney.
Directed by theater veteran Chris Millado, Ze Muzikal is held together by the music of Vince de Jesus and the adaptation of Chris Martinez. Clearly, they wanted to stay true to Vergara’s graphic novel but still managed to effectively update the lines to respond to present day situations, but the Ze Muzikal proves too long for comfort with too many songs as fillers that do not really move the story.
Thankfully, Carlo Vergara’s oeuvre remains intact and complete with the “Pagoda Cold Wave Motion Gun” and “Transmorphication Execute.” These famous lines and the unforgettable characters certainly make Zsazsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal one of the best and delightful plays of the year.