Curtains open. A vamp of a woman sashays into the center stage donned in a tight bustier gown and around her neck a black satin ribbon cameo choker necklace with matching black gloves. The piano rolls a few opening notes and the woman mumbles a few husky drawls. Then comes the ear splitting Balllllut! The infamous native delicacy becomes the star of the limelight as Katy dela Cruz sings “Balut”.
Katy dela Cruz or Mommy Katy to her fans and friends was an iconic performer who dominated her genre, the bodabil in the 1940’s and was active for 80 long years before her demise in 2004 at the age of 97.
One can argue that nobody really took her place in matters of popularity and pizzazz . The bodabil, the offspring of vaudeville, is a string of short, flashy performances such as song and dance numbers, magic acts, jugglers, comedy skits, and the like.
The bodabil used to be performed in the Zorilla Theatre and the Manila Grand Opear House. Katy reigned queen as a total performer whose jazzy numbers and husky, voice can be likened to scat queen Ella Fitzgerald, and French iconic singer Edith Piaf. I say likened because Katy actually became a star at the age of 18 being the highest paid performer at the time, when Piaf was only 10 and Fitzgerald, 8.
The young Katy, born in Intramuros, used to frequent the ferias in the vicinity and" sing and swivel her hips so that people would throw coins at her." More of these very entertaining anecdotes from Manila Carnivals
Again, Director/writer par excellence Nestor Torre directs Maestro Ryan Cayabyab’s music to the lyrics and script of Jose Javier Reyes.
The musical extravaganza is topbilled by Isay Alvarez as Katy,Tirso Cruz III, Gian Magdangal,Epi Quizon as Golay(a.k.a.Dolphy), Lou Veloso, Tricia Jimenes and Dulce . They have a sneak preview today, Sunday, October 14, 2012 at the Atrium of The Podium, Mandaluyong.
(Photo from Manila Carnivals)
Of course it will not be possible without the stage management of John Aries Alcayaga, one of the most versatile personalities behind Philippine stage.