August 20, 2019 – Cam Arcilla
Years after its premiere in 2014, the Manila adaptation of Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond’s “Dani Girl” returns to stage with a refreshing take on optimism. The Sandbox Collective’s maiden production “Dani Girl: A Musical About Hope” is the most suitable way to mark its 5th anniversary milestone—much like a celebration of a young life full of hope.
This 2-hour musical did not rely on the usual depressing cancer story, but rather it transports you to the quite-imaginative world of 9-year-old Dani Lyons and how she dealt with her acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Dani’s whimsical mind will take you to an exciting journey with a sword fight, a television game show, and even an outer space journey among many other things, in her search of an answer to “Why is cancer?”
In this year’s run, we are introduced to child wonder Felicity Kyle Napuli, who is set to alternate with Philstage Gawad Buhay awardee Rebecca Coates in the title role. Napuli exudes innocence and fun in spite of the protagonist’s pain and suffering. This builds an exciting, fluid narrative all throughout.
Side-by-side with her is another theater discovery, Daniel Drilon, who plays Dani’s best friend and fellow cancer warrior Marty. He alternates with returning cast member Luigi Quesada. Joining the cast are Juliene Mendoza as Raph, Dani’s imaginary friend and guardian angel, who had us guffawing the whole time, and Pam Imperial as Katharine Lyons, Dani’s mother. They alternate with Shiela Valderrama-Martinez and Lorenz Martinez, respectively.
Director Toff de Venecia said in a press statement that “having actual kids alternating as Dani and Marty adds a new, vibrant, creative energy to the show,” and indeed it did. The younger cast gave an organic and child-like perspective to the characters they are playing, coupled with playful stage set-up and lighted visuals that will definitely tickle the audience’s imagination.
As they say, it’s good to find a beacon of hope amid this crazy world. So you may have been wondering—did we ever know the answers to “Why is cancer?” You have to watch to find out.
“Dani Girl: A Musical About Hope,” co-presented by The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical, will have a limited engagement until Sept. 1 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue, Makati City. Tickets are now available through Ticketworld online.
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