Spell Saab

Last Thursday I was invited by YoungStar Assistant Editor Toff De Venecia to watch his directorial debut, Dani Girl! He just recently founded the newest performing arts collective, The Sandbox Collective.


As you can imagine, watching a play about a young girl having cancer should have sent me running completely in the opposite direction. When you lose a loved one to cancer, not much about the disease can hurt you anymore but it does sting when I am reminded of losing my father to leukemia. Still, I was actually looking forward to the musical dubbed as “good for the soul” so I could write about it. Plus, there was a live art session by the great Rob Cham for the benefit of pediatric cancer patients.





Jim was actually really nervous in his seat, afraid it was not going to be his cup of tea. “Is the actress really sick?” he asked me before going in. He does not deal so well with depressing things. Of course I told him NO and he stopped biting his nails for a while. I liked going into the RCBC theater knowing as little as possible about the play. All I knew was that it’s originally an Off-Broadway musical. Toff also gave me a heads up by asking me if I was wearing mascara. When I said yes, he replied “good luck!” – I immediately thanked my stars for wearing the waterproof variant!

Speaking of stars, the last thing I watched that made me bawl was (YES, YOU GUESSED IT) The Fault in Our Stars movie. Ito nanaman ako, going into a theater to watch about a girl with cancer. When the curtains went up, the stage was bare except for two actors. I was ready for a really depressing story. To my surprise, Dani Girl was an absolute delight to watch!! It had me laughing almost the entire time (when I wasn’t crying in between). The dialogue was innocent yet thought-provoking as the two young cancer patients go on fantastic expeditions to find out the answer to the question, “WHY IS CANCER?”

9-year old leukemia patient Dani Lyons was played perfectly by 16-year-old Rebecca Coates. Her adorable lisp was on point and her voice was soft and angelic. Also a fresh talent at 16, Luigi Quesada played Dani’s super geeky hospital room/play mate. He was so incredibly charming, Jim and I enjoyed his Star references – both Wars and Trek. Shiela Valderrama played Dani’s mother and had a very heart-wrenching solo about sunrises. The crowd favorite was no doubt Dani’s guardian Angel Raph played by Reb Atadero who actually played 16 characters that night. He was SOOO hilarious!


There was a talkback with the cast and artistic team after the show and we learned more about Toff’s The Sandbox Collective and how it’s all about promoting local performing artists – you can contact them if you have your own ideas and if you are what Toff calls a “Theaterati” :)


Congratulations, Toff, on a musical very well played (pun intended)!! Congratulations to the whole cast and crew as well. I definitely recommend this play but I don’t want to spoil it any more for you. Take a break for puro tambay (LOL) and support local theater by seeing it yourself!

Dani Girl runs from July 11-27 at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater, RCBC Plaza, Makati. You can check out this link for schedules – they have 50% off the ticket price for students on certain days!

How to buy tickets:

Have fun, kids! Life is beautiful and tomorrow is another day!:)