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The Enchantment of Philippine Artistry


A banner promoting Rama, Hari above an entrance to Ayala Malls Circuit, Makati. Photo credit: Lar Antonio

"Rama, Hari Transports Audience to a Magical Realm" 

Rama, Hari, an Indian epic resonating with majestic elegance, embodies a rare and unparalleled distinction as it is brought to life by the foremost Filipino talents in the realms of dance, music, production, and language, creating a truly exceptional experience. 

The morning of February 24, 2024 at the Samsung Performing Arts Theatre saw the arrivals of various patrons of the arts—from the small-scale student spectators and family supporters, to those whose ardent love for theater arts leads to almost single-handedly funding an entire production. “I don’t buy expensive things, but I bought a show!” said Karylle Tatlonghari-Yuzon, singer for Princess Sita in this year’s run of Rama, Hari. 

At the stroke of 2:00 pm, the open house began: as soon as the average spectator seated themselves in the theater, they really found no demographic commonality in the audience—from older generations to new, the power of Rama, Hari is such that it attracts people from every background. As everyone nestled into their seats, the sudden dimming of the lights marked the start of the spectacle. Unbeknownst to them, they were in for an electrifying journey. 

A hush fell over the theater, enveloping it in darkness. The audience was poised in anticipation. Suddenly, a whimsical flute akin to a pied piper's melody pierced the silence–filling the empty space with enchantment. It was soon joined by the rhythmic beats of percussion, the elegant strains of violins, the pulsating rhythms of drums, and the bold, soaring notes of trumpets, transforming the theater into a lush jungle, a majestic kingdom, an exotic realm beyond imagination.

In the blink of an eye, the curtain rose on the first act, unveiling the central figures: Rama, the regal heir apparent; his beloved wife, Sita; and Bharata, Rama’s half-brother. Rama and Sita’s tender love story unfolds amidst the backdrop of palace intrigue, with a jealous queen scheming to overthrow Rama and elevate her own son, Bharata, to the throne. Following this, a 15-minute intermission allowed for a seamless transition to the second act. As the first act radiated with energy, the second act surged with an even greater intensity which amplified the passion and fervor of "Rama, Hari." Here, the narrative unfolds Rama's arduous 14-year odyssey with Sita through the wilderness, where they face numerous temptations but ultimately emerge triumphant. In the culmination, Rama reaffirms his divine status, reclaiming his rightful title as the successor to the throne.

The artistry of ballet, intertwined with traditional-based yet contemporary choreography, delicately mirrors the vocal performances and skillfully conveying the myriad emotions that the characters aim to express through their songs. The incorporation of a modest yet unforgettable shadow play in the second act elicited "oohs,” "wows," and an uproar of applause from the audience, leaving a lasting impression. 

Rama, Hari served as a platform for extraordinary artists, demonstrating their remarkable talents as they seamlessly embodied their roles with emotive acting, graceful dance, and resonant vocal performances—making the audience more intrigued and compassionate. The effort and time devoted into producing the performance was apparent from the beginning until the end of the play; everyone involved was all but consistent in giving great performances.

The overall power manifested by the show as well as the passion of its actors left a massive impact on the crowd. No words can capture the brilliance of the performances, nor justly describe how perfectly the two acts complemented one another in delivering the story so beautifully. The rock opera ended gracefully and magnificently; one would’ve been hard-pressed not to find someone in the audience with their jaws wide open. This masterpiece of Alice Reyes is among the most compelling examples of the splendor and diversity of Philippine artistry and is a veritable triumph of Filipino creativity. 

Written by Marithea Balopeños, Allana dela Cruz, & Alexa Payuyo


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