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Kilat is a Cebuano Triumph: A Review

Kilat is a Cebuano Triumph: A Review

by Dr. Charlito O. Codizar

Sugbo takes center stage in Kilat: Dulang Musikal, as the legion of Filipino heroes welcome Leon Kilat, the hero from the province, in their ranks.

This multi-lingual (Bisaya, Filipino, and Spanish) musical play highlights the story and legacy of this Visayan Katipunero in an endearing, heartfelt, and rousing narrative of history and adventure. No longer reduced to an urban myth and a street name, it further looks into the life and times of Pantaleon Villegas or Leon Kilat – from a wide-eyed “probinsyano” to an ardent leader of the revolution. It further explores themes of dreams and aspirations, love for country and people, moral dilemma, and redemption.

As a lumad Sugbuanon, I especially appreciate how Mark Arnold Langahid’s script and direction highlight the passion, courage of conviction, and sense of fun that are inherent in our sensibilities. The tight storytelling is further accentuated by Alexa Yap’s riveting songs and thrilling musical score. Langahid and Yap are the perfect captains to lead Kilat’s story at the forefront of contemporary Cebuano consciousness. The subtle and subliminal ways of showcasing our native accent and quirks have unapologetically strengthened the musical play’s Bisaya identity.

Rafael Zandro Garay’s portrayal of Leon Kilat is both captivating and charming. His  command of the character is beautiful and unnerving. Leon Kilat’s soul is properly showcased from start to finish. The support of his “mga amigo nga gwapo” in Zai Angelo Cortes’ Anastacio Oclarino and Zachary Maagad’s Florencio Gonzales provided the warmth needed to further humanize the story. Yesha Suralta’s fictional character Antonina is an intellectual comic relief that delivered the laughs and insights.

The magnum opus, “Oh, Sugbo!” reverberates as the heart of the musical play. It will hit you right in the feels while providing the musical theme that seamlessly connects songs and scores. “Pan de Suelo” and “Tayo Na!” are witty and fun numbers guaranteed to keep you humming long after the show.

With its message centering on opening your eyes to the socio-political realities around you, Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu’s production of Kilat: Dulang Musikal is made more relevant in a country where people are trying to amplify their voices for a chance to be heard. Truly, this musical play revolutionizes Cebuano artistry in its preservation of a long-forgotten hero’s legacy. A triumph!

If you enjoy the passion of Les Miserables and the storytelling of Hamilton, Kilat is for you.

Kilat: Dulang Musikal is currently running at the Virginia Chiongbian Theater until April 06, 2024.

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