Exit Stage Left

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  • When a group of people come together with one purpose and one vision, it is the most beautiful thing. We live in a world where division seems to be the order of the day, and individualism is a mark of every politically correct statement made to deny people’s rights to be heard and to be considered by the so-called “popular voice”. In the background, though, there are people who are actually making a difference in this world, for people both here in Canada, and thousands of kilometers away in the arid plains of Burundi, or the poverty-stricken slums of Calcutta and Manila, even while they are in Vancouver, simply with the gift of song.

    Right Here Write Now! The Musical, is an original musical play penned in 2012 by then fifteen year-old Mikey Jose and his nineteen year-old sister, Tricia, with the prodding of their parents Liza and RJ, to replace the originally selected Magsimula Ka! because of the challenging task of finding performers from Vancouver who could speak and sing fluently in Tagalog. The objective was to raise money for an Answering the Cry of the Poor (ANCOP) village in the Philippines, and to send money to the White Fathers of Africa, who care for HIV/AIDS stricken children, abandoned by their parents. The result was a beautiful selection of songs written by the duo within the course of a year in 2012, and with the script written in by Mom and Dad. The songs were developed in between exams and homework in school, and Sunday afternoon rehearsals at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Surrey. Every Sunday that year, volunteers ranging from the ages of 6 to 50, came devotedly to learn sheets and sheets of music churned out by the Joses, constantly encouraging each other with laughter and friendship, and bags of pandesal and trays of pancit or pasta, lovingly prepared by the cast members themselves. There was one goal – to serve God in a musical no one thought was viable enough to make it to mainstream stage. After all, gathered to play the roles were a group of unknowns from different parishes, and no one except a handful who had any real theatre experience; so pitted against parish dinner and dances, and concerts of Jose Marie Chan, who would actually watch these amateurs?

    But God had other plans for this band of misfits. Their dedication to the work that had to be done was to make sure every child in Burundi has food on his or her plate, and at least a family in the slums of Manila had a roof over their heads. One of the audition questions the Joses asked those who braved the test was, “Why did you want to join this musical?” and there was only one right answer. Every single cast member who made it answered the same thing – they wanted to serve God and His people.

    They all had the heart for it. No egos. No diva dreams. Just a heart. That’s all the Joses asked for.

    Theirs wasn’t an objective to make it to Hollywood or to win an Obie. The cast members just wanted to make a difference from where they stood, and with what they had. God did the rest.

    No one in the cast, ever counted the hours they spent every Sunday since 2012 because it was immaterial, irrelevant even. This was a cause, a worthwhile cause, and they wanted to do it. They wanted to share “a story so beautiful, to live today, no longer ignored.” They had a chance to tell a story, and they did so for two shows in 2013; four in 2014; two in 2015, two in 2017, with one show in Oakland, California; an opening for Cardinal Tagle’s visit, to which His Excellency marvelled at the professionalism of the presentation, and the last two this year in North Vancouver. The show raised more than $250,000 for parishes and for ANCOP and the White Fathers. Thousands of Vancouverites were able to see the story unfold, and the cast members became a family throughout the years, celebrating special events, birthdays, weddings and everything in between. RHWN brought people together in the most profound ways that no one will be able to explain, whether it is the haunting lower notes of the “Valedictory” and finale numbers, or the upbeat and danceable tune of “Change Your Groove”; the songs kept the audiences glued to each note written in each piece. A true labour of love. A true testament to what becomes a masterpiece when the Author of Life puts His fingerprint on it.

    This is not goodbye, but simply a bid of “Adieu!” to the years RHWN has brought together thousands of souls for the purpose of being nourished by songs meant for the joyful of heart and for those who hope. To the lives it has touched, RHWN will forever be the pleasant surprise of a musical it has been for the last six years. For those who denied themselves the chance to see it, it is unfortunate that they have passed on the beauty of song, dance and performance by people who do it because they want to serve others, and not because of fame. For those who have, it’s time to “write a story worth telling, a story so compelling.” Right here, right now.

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