A heartbreaking and ultimately heartwarming story about familial love, Sandosenang Sapatos is a musical that follows a child, Susie, born without feet who dreams of fulfilling her shoemaker father’s wish of having a ballerina for a daughter.
On her birthday every year, Susie enters a world of enchanting shoes, where the Shoe Fairy bestows upon her a pair of feet, allowing her to dance to her heart’s desire. In her fantasy, she gets to encounter a character who symbolizes a new pair of eye-catching shoes.
Alternating for the role of Susie is Felicity Kyle Napuli and Wincess Jem Yana with Floyd Tena playing Tatay. The show is directed by Jonathan Tadioan.
Sandosenang Sapatos will have its final performances on December 2, Saturday, and December 3, Sunday, at the CCP Black Box Theater, or the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez. Incidentally, a display at the entrance showcases the astonishing designs of the Filipino Footwear Design Competition finalists.
The musical is based on a children’s story written by Dr. Luis Gatmaitan. The stage adaptation is written by Layeta Bucoy, with music composed by Noel Cabangon and Jed Balsamo.
“I was initially invited by Mr. Nanding Josef to compose for the play. I haven’t done any music
for other theater companies so, it was indeed an honor to be invited by Tanghalang Pilipino,” Cabangon stated in the production noted.
“I only did three songs and then, Jed Balsamo was brought onboard to initially do the
arrangements. Eventually, he was asked to write the remainder of the music as well as do the
music direction and arrangement,” said Cabangon.
Cabangon and Balsamo read the script and studied the scenes and lyrics so they would know what kind of music should be composed and what emotion should be used for each segment. The show initially
had dialogues but since Balsamo noticed that these were poetic enough to be turned into full songs,
it became a sung-through children’s musical without any dialogue.
“I believe this is a feat because this is TP’s first sung-through children’s musical and, to our knowledge, there is no known children’s musical, whether local or foreign, that is fully sung-through,” Cabangon attested.
This show is the duo’s first collaborative work as co-composers. “Working with Jed was very easy
and he shared the same sentiment. I remember playing for him the opening song and discussed with him on how he can continue the trajectory that I had set,” Cabangon said.
Balsamo also shared his ideas on how to approach the other songs so that all of them are thematically inter-connected and related to a point that it will not look like a musical done by two composers with different styles but a single cohesive entity.
“We hope the audience will reflect on the lessons of the play, One of which is for the parents to
love their children, even if they’re not perfect, unconditionally,” Cabangon concluded.
Meanwhile, Balsamo is currently a nominee at the 36th Aliw Awards for Best Composer and Best Musical Director for Tanghalang Una Obra’s Ibarra, which starred Piolo Pascual.
“This new production of Sandosenang Sapatos has given me the opportunity to see it at
another angle from its first staging back in 2013 [at the CCP Studio Theater with Tuxqs Rutaquio at the helm] and build it up henceforth. As in all live theater productions, revisions and enhancements are bound to happen with the intent to further reinforce the flow of the story,” said Balsamo.
Balsamo realized what made this children’s musical extraordinary is the fact that the ‘perceived
villain’ is not another person or entity but an abstract idea – an 11-year-old girl born with no
feet who has to go through a gamut of emotions. He added that from a musical standpoint, it was very tricky to come up with musical ideas without dumbing down the audience, whether young or young at heart.
“Also, what makes this production extra special is the fact that the music is played live. Nothing beats to hearing music being performed live before your eyes instead of hearing it on playback because everyone inside the theater will also feel the musicians’ energy, which helps set the mood and tone of the performance,” shared Balsamo, who first honed his musical skills at Xavier University High School in Cagayan de Oro.
“I believe that Noel Cabangon’s musical anchor was strong enough for me to latch on and build the required musical blocks,” bared Balsamo. “Indeed, our conversations and discussions on how to do the music really helped me to determine the course it had to take. And for that, I am forever thankful.Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!”
Image credits: C. Mendez Legaspi