NOV. 4, 2017

Doctors-on-Stage: Downtrodden


Downtrodden is defined as “oppressed and lacking the will to resist.” Those who are in dire circumstances and do not have much hope. It’s the theme for this year’s production by Doctors-On-Stage, as the doctors hope to shine a light on these marginalized people.

The purpose of this show was to raise funds for the Bayanihan Clinic Without Walls, which serves the

uninsured, underinsured and underprivileged in the state of Hawaii. The BCWW provides free medical and dental services to these people.

Dr. Russell Tacata, president of BCWW, said it eloquently in his message in the playbill: “…through dance and music, you will witness our very own version of protest against a government’s anemic response to the sad plight of a significant portion of our society.”

“Health is wealth.” The people that BCWW serve lack in wealth, so what could be a more worthy cause?

This year’s production was led by Executive Director JP Orias and held at the Kroc Center in Ewa Beach, on Saturday, October 28th.

The opening number, “Chandelier,” is a song by Australian singer Sia. It is about a “party girl”, a drinker, who is loved but only superficially. On the inside she is struggling, crying, desperate and “holding on for dear life.”

The doctors sang a variety of songs, from contemporary songs by Justin Timberlake and Rachel Platten, to Michael Jackson (“Man in the Mirror”), to a 1980s movie soundtrack “Papa Can You Hear Me,” to a Filipino classic “May Bukas Pa.”

As the doctors performed, various images were projected on the screen behind them, depicting the themes of each song.  To me, the live music played by accomplished musicians, pianist Corazon Palafox-Aczon and violinist Duane Padilla, enhanced the quality of the show, rendering more authentic performances. And so did the accompaniment by the young dancers from Rosalie Woodson Dance Academy (RWDA). These pretty, young ladies looked like budding performers for the TV show So You Think You Can Dance, and made the numbers more dynamic and expressive.

One of my favorite performances was Anna Davide’s “Papa Can You Hear Me.” She reminded me of a classic literary figure: Catherine’s ghost from Wuthering Heights…with her white robe, wild hair and pale face in contrast with the dark background. Ms. Davide is a beautiful girl with a beautiful voice. The whole audience was hushed and felt the chilling, haunting performance.

Another one of my favorites was the song “May Bukas Pa,” when the performers wore traditional Filipino clothing as they sang a classic. But in addition, Dr. Carol Davide danced the hula during this number. I enjoyed witnessing the combining of cultures and showcasing the beauty of living in a state like Hawaii.

The performers make a good living, I’m sure, but I’m convinced they could make a living from singing, in performances like Erica Brenner’s “Human Nature,” Ross Simafranca’s “Out There,” and Jay Flores’s “Anyway.” I also always enjoy it when Cielo Guillermo performs.

It wasn’t a flawless production. There were numbers where the performers were out of sync, such as in the song “Despacito.” But you know what? Let’s give them a break. They’re doctors. Their day job is saving lives.

With us Filipinos, we always find a comic effect (whether it was intentional or not.) That’s why we laughed when Nestor del Rosario ran onstage in a Superman costume, complete with fake, puffed up muscles. This was during the “Nobody” song and the doctors were dressed in various costumes, getting a head start on Halloween.

An audience member started dancing enthusiastically off the side of the stage during the “Despacito” number, and the entire audience was having a good time. In several songs, the theatre turned into a karaoke bar as the audience participated (we all know Filipinos like to sing). The show was interactive, and entertaining. Best of all, we helped out a worthy cause.

Maria Jo Farina, a supporter of the cause and repeat attendee to Doctors-on-Stage stated in her email to our publisher: "DOS Downtrodden directed by JP Orias was not far behind any Broadway Shows in New York. One would believe that the performers are not physicians in their own right but actual actors and actresses who can sing, act and dance. The show, produced by Dr. Charlie Sonido is indeed very entertaining and heart warming. Kudos to all the officers and cast members of Doctors-On-Stage (DOS) for a very successful Musical Production for the benefit of Bayanihan Clinic Without Walls, Inc. Money paid by supporters and patrons was well spent and not wasted. Mabuhay!”

We look forward to the next production of Doctors-On-Stage.

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