I have been eagerly waiting for the opening of BGC Arts Center since I learned about it. Not that I am the artsy type. Far from it. I have not watched a musical show for so many years that I can't even remember the last one I watched. I see the BGC Arts Center as one of the facilities that will strengthen the identity of the community in Fort Bonifacio. A community that shares the same neighborhood has to have places for members to do things together, and an arts center is a place for members of this community to enjoy performing arts together, and for some of the members to put up shows for the whole community. We do not have community sports center, or community hall, but now at least we have our arts center.
This website's article on Three New Attractions to open in December 2016 has mentioned that the BGC Arts Center will open this month, and that the Arts Center would have its first concert on December 11. I went there on that day at around 5pm, hoping to be able to get inside to take a peek.
According to the press materials from the Bonifacio Arts Foundation, the BGC Arts Center is composed of the the Maybank Performing Arts Theater, the Alveo Central Plaza, and the Sun Life Amphitheater.
The building, which is called the Maybank Performing Arts Theater, looked substantially finished, except for the eating place, which is a McCafe (Why oh why a McCafe? I do not get it. There is already a McDonald across the street.)
I saw some security guards standing inside the building, so I pushed open a glass door and checked if the show was going ahead as scheduled. The guards let me in and sent me across the hallway to the cashier located on the other side. So the BGC Arts Center was opened!
I did not buy a ticket at that time because it was above my budget. Then I proceeded to walk around the building, taking photos even inside the Globe Auditorium and had a good sneak preview of the show later that night, as well as the inside of the theater. All the lights, seats and air-conditioning were working, and they were very nice.
The artist performing that night was rehearsing a song. There was no echo and I could hear the singing clearly. Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I went back outside and asked if I could look at the other facilities. It was my lucky day. A staff of the BGC Arts Center, Ms. Martinez, helpfully guided me to the facilities upstairs.
Ms. Martinez informed me that the arts center is on soft opening, and that it will open formally in mid January 2017.
Apart from the 500-seater flexible "hybrid studio-blackbox" which is called Globe Auditorium, the building has a big room on the second floor which is suitable for dance classes as well as recitals. It looked finished, with hard wood floor, a mirror-wall, and sound-proofed walls, stage-lighting system and working air-conditioning. Too bad I cannot play any musical instrument or have any inclination to learn ballet, so I will not be seen using that room any time soon.
We went onto the third floor, and I was shown a small space which can be used for a variety of purposes, such as workshops, exhibitions, or meeting. If the rent is reasonable, I am sure this space will be booked up easily.
When we went back to downstairs, Ms Martinez asked if I would be watching the concert that night. I told her that I would like to but the ticket price was beyond my budget. It must have been my lucky day. She told me that she had a promo code and the ticket price when the code was used was much more friendly to my bank account. How could I miss the chance to be one of the few people on this planet to watch the first show of the BGC Arts Center? I bought the ticket right away.
Now onto the show. It was called "A Very Broadway Christmas in Manila", performed by Andrew Keenan-Bolger with guest Tanya Mangalan. Prior to the concert, I had never heard of these two performers, so I went there with no expectation.
When I went back to the theater, I was late for the show. Andrew Keenan-Bolger apparently had sung a couple of songs already. Then he sang "What I did for love" from the musical "The Chorus Line". It was soothing and melodic. After that, he performed a tagalog song that I was afterwards told was called Sana Ngayong Pasko. It sounded great and his tagalog pronounciation must have been accurate too, as the audience applauded enthusiastically. After singing a Christmas song "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas" he took a break and gave the stage to Ms Tanya Mangalan.
Ms Mangalan was cast as the main character in the London run of the renowned musical, Miss Saigon, so her singing prowess was already well proven. That night, the theater was like her family room, as she used the opportunity to celebrate her father's birthday, and sang his favorite karaoke song, the title of which I cannot recall. It was a warm and intimate segment of the concert.
After Andrew Keenan-Bolger returned to the stage, he sang a few more songs, and then the evening came to an end. It was a short and sweet concert. The solo singer was a friendly and boyish singer with an operatic voice that has a bright future in performance arts.
The new theater is not very big, but it is well equipped. It does not offer grandeur, but gives you a feel of intimacy and modernity. I feel sure that I will go back there many times in the future.
My ticket to the first ever public show at the BGC Arts Center
The video below shows Andrew Keenan-Bolger rehearsing a tagalog song for the show later that night.