At twenty-three, theatre actress Erin Javier has yet to fall in love or kiss a boy offstage, away from the klieg lights. She is the perfect leading lady—whose heart men would fight for, win, and protect—unfortunately, only until the curtains fall and the lights go down. In real life, Erin is a certified NBSB whose heart has been hoping for a song to dance to for quite some time.
But when two (two!) men enter from stage left and right, Erin is confused. Who deserves to take center stage in her heart—Mr. Theatre Royalty whose attention and displays of affection make her pulse race, or a good friend whose steady support has helped steer her to success and fulfill her dream?
I'm terribly, terribly excited to talk about this book. It's the book I never realized that we needed, but we do. Theatre has always been this wonderful, mystical unicorn to me, one that always been the unreachable dream. This book brings the joy back to theatre, and is not just a love story between two people, but a love letter to Philippine Theater itself.
But I'll start from the beginning.
I loved the chemistry between Erin and Ramon. Best friends always have the best sort of chemistry, even when one is pining for the other. I love they way they fell seamlessly back into each other after spending some time apart. Erin is the one taking the lead in this relationship, unknowingly setting the boundaries and rules between her and Ramon to keep him in the friend category. They had the best dialogue, and the part where they rehearsed the author-written(!) song Himig ng Pag Uwi, I could feel the strength of their emotions in their voices without actually having to hear a single note. Waiting in the Wings follows the style of Tara's other books--the plots may be simple, but she writes with such heart and beautiful turn of phrase that you fall in love with the characters anyway.
I have to say though, I want a Pio Alvez for myself! His chemistry with Erin was completely different from hers with Ramon--here's it's the more familiar strangers to lovers trope, where Pio is the one taking the lead. He tells Erin what to post, where to go, what to do, because he's learned to do that in the course of his job. I loved his charisma and the way he handled himself, even if he tends to go for the over dramatic, you know he's an earnest, handsome boy who just wants love.
One issue I found, though, is a fault of the setting. Because it's set in the Philippines in a Filipino theater company, singing Filipino songs and speaking Filipino words, I worry that someone who doesn't speak the language may miss a lot of the hints about the songs, the dialogue, etc. Of course there is a glossary in the end, but I could see how it could be frustrating for someone who doesn't know. I had a similar problem with Crazy Rich Asians, where half the funny bits were in the footnotes of translation in the bottom of the book.
But would the story work just as well without the Filipino?
Like I said, this book is a love letter to Philippine Theater, and I can't imagine anyone but Tara writing it. She's created a fantastic, but very real world of actors singing original music, creating new things almost every day. She's featured beautiful songs by original Filipino artists, and showed the family-like camaraderie that we usually find in groups of the same circle here. Reading Tara's book is familiar and honestly, stress-free. It put a smile on my face from beginning to end.
ABOUT the AUTHOR
Tara Frejas is a cloud-walker who needs caffeine to fuel her travels. When she's not on work mode, she keeps herself busy by weaving her daydreams into stories.
Aside from her obvious love affair with words and persistent muses, this full-fledged Piscean (who cares what NASA says?) is passionate about being caffeinated, musical theatre, certain genres of music, dance, dogs, good food, and romancing Norae, her ukelele. She owns a male bunny named Max who sometimes tries to nibble on her writing notes.
In another life, she wishes to be a musical theatre actress. Or a director, maybe. But in the meantime, she’ll continue being an avid supporter of the local theatre scene...one show at a time.