Tatler Review: Care Divas The Musical
The play follows the story of five gay overseas Filipino workers based in Israel who work as caregivers in the morning and transform into glamourous drag queens at night. Given its already adventurous premise, the play proves to be so much more than spectacle and grandiosity.
The amazing set design seamlessly carries the audience across Israel—from the confining spaces of the employer’s household, all the way to a nightclub in Tel Aviv—set designer Leo Abaya lays down the groundwork for a truly captivating tale.
Not to be outshined (pun intended) was the wonderful light design by Jonjon Villareal, whose timing was never amiss.
The play covers the span of a year; the hefty timeline could so easily be dragging. However with beautiful choreography, vocal stylings, and lyrics peppered across the narrative, I was constantly at the edge of my seat—if only to get a closer glimpse of the minute facial gestures each character emits with every song.
The Divas we follow are Shai, Kayla, Chelsea, Jonnee, and Thalia. Altogether the stellar cast performs each scene seemingly without effort. Each actor tunes into the moment, pulls back when need be, or shines when it’s time for their solo. The ensemble carries out their sequences much like a jazz band—holding onto each note with laidback precision all the while working in smooth chorus.
However, setting all the glitz and glamour aside, the play touches on themes beyond mere drag or aestheticism.
Its narrative encompasses the difficulties of a migrant worker, moreover, one whose sexuality/ gender identity is challenged by the host country’s general culture and belief system.
And to add to this, the story begs the timeless question: what happens when those who wander find their home in the very act of staying adrift?
Here the idea of home is put into the spotlight—what is it really to call a place (or a person) your home? Rather more important, why the constant search for it?
The play reminds us to pinch ourselves and thank our lucky stars for the loved ones we have, for the friendships that keep us afloat, and for the home that we seldom treasure—our very own country. Through the microcosm of these characters, a larger inimitable Filipino-ness is recognisable.
The play presents itself as musical, a mish-mash of well-choreographed dance numbers and dramatic ballads. However, it is modest in its attempt to portray heightened realities. I say modest because it approaches so many heavy topics (homelessness, friendship, value judgement, gender, among many others) without the heaviness of didacticism. Here, in spite of their difficult lives, the Care Divas are the stars.
For a moment the lights dim, the rest of the world falls silent, nothing else matters on the stage—all there is is the spotlight.
Stage photos by Remigio Cabildo
Care Divas runs from February 3 to March 19 (Tuesday - Sunday, 3PM and 8PM) at the PETA Theatre Centre. For guesting inquiries and ticket reservations, contact PETA Marketing Public Relations Supervisor Leloi Arcete (0917-5765400) or simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Directed by Maribel Legarda | Written by Liza Magtoto | Musical Direction by Vincent De Jesus