AFTER enduring three years without the lights, the crowd, and the stage, Songspell Philippines held their most-awaited grand comeback concert “Something About This Night” last January 21, 2023 and showed Davao City and everyone that the beloved group was back better than ever.
For the homegrown Dabawenyo act, composed of 26 kids and teens between the age of 4 to 18 years old, performing on stage again since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic felt like coming home, especially because performing had become second nature to them throughout the years.
Musical director Koi Sevilla shared that the members had given so much effort and sacrifice to make the concert special, which resulted in a sold-out, one-night event at the SMX Convention Center filled with extravagant music and dance that amused all the friends, family, supporters, and loved ones watching.
Rehearsals and preparations began in October 2022 which was unusual for the group since they usually had months-long to prepare for a big concert but since they were very keen to get back on stage soon, Songspell made it possible.
“We really wanted to get back on what we love doing so we planned that we really have to do this show... This was very important, even the kids sacrificed their holiday during the sembreak. Ang family nila nag bakasyon but sila naiwan nag rehearse, so sacrifice talaga (Their families went on vacation but they had to stay behind for rehearsals, so it was really a sacrifice),” Sevilla said.
The “Something About This Night” concert merged three iconic broadway shows namely Hamilton - which Sevilla mentioned was a special request from the kids – Finding Neverland, and Mamma Mia.
The group delivered almost two hours of performance and sang smash-hits Alexander Hamilton, First Burn, and You’ll be Back from Hamilton, All That Matters and What You Mean to Me from Finding Neverland, and Money, Money, Money, and Lay All Your Love on Me from Mamma Mia.
Meanwhile, the show-stopping choreography was by Nelson Bracamonte Jr. who had already worked with Songspell Philippines before.
“(Preparations) were tight because we started rehearsals in October so it's quite short. We had to deal with a lot of costumes and going back to a live show has brought back so many memories for me. So, I think what we all had to do was cooperate and have the energy at a high level to have a good show," Carmela Beatriz Castro, a long-time member, said.
Despite the hectic schedule, from the weekend and after-school preparations, the kids shared how they still had the most fun, especially since they finally returned to face-to-face rehearsals.
“We had so much fun doing it even though we were tired. We're so excited for the show and the preparations were great,” Sab Bargamento said, who shared she had been very excited to see her friends again in person.
Newcomer Miguel Dayanghirang shared how it’s fulfilling to finally become a member after originally planning to join Songspell earlier but the Covid-19 pandemic halted his plans.
“It's been tiring but also an enriching experience for me, especially as a new member coming here. There's a lot of pressure for me and stage fright but the company really helped me overcome that," he said.
During their rehearsals on normal days or during a concert season, Sevilla said it’s important to treat the members as all equals, no matter their age and size, and encourage them to perform at the same level and discipline.
“We challenge them and then I always tell the kids that we have to earn our spot on the stage, they have to fight for their spot on the stage. And of course, when you fight for it and you have it, you really have to win it,” she said.
Nesh Uy, who has been a member for seven years, is one of the many testimonies of how members can grow and develop their talent with Songspell.
“I used to be shy in showing and expressing myself, especially through singing. When I first joined Songspell, they made us sing one song to hear our voice and I cried when they made me do it,” she recalls with a laugh.
Now, Nesh is one of the confident soloists of Songspell. She added, “As I grew I became more comfortable with singing in front of a crowd and I also discovered that I love to dance.”
Indeed, Songspell Philippines has become an avenue for young Dabawenyos to foster camaraderie and growth through musical training and help them discover their passion for music and performing arts.
After their successful comeback concert, Songspell continues to work hard and is looking forward to more shows, collaborations, and even a potential 11th USA concert tour.
Through their talent and passion, the internationally-renowned group has been inspiring young kids here and abroad as the youngest ambassador of goodwill and peace from Davao City since 1996. ICM