Vilma Santos’ show, celebrating its eight anniversary last Friday, aptly titled “Vilma, Going Great At 8,” opened with a breathtaking precision dance number with the program’s host and the VIP dancers. On stage was a spiral staircase reminiscent of the ones we often see in old Hollywood musicals; we almost expected Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers to come out and do their famous tap dance routine. Instead, Santos and her back-up dancers did their number – ala Spellbound magic act – as the host popped in and out and was held perched up in the air like a mermaid who came out of the water. First guest was Santos’ best friend and former co-host Roderick Paulate who sang Time of your Life, from the movie Dirty Dancing. Paulate, as usual, did his number with all the effort he could muster, to keep in tune with the celebration. It was followed by Gary Valenciano’s Body Rock and his energized movements set the mood to high performance level. Too bad that during the interview portion, the born-again performer was more interested in plugging his forthcoming concert, “Heart and Soul,” to held in the same venue (Folk Arts Theater).
Next was the voluptuous Carmi Martin who did Liza Minelli’s New York, New York with matching feathers and her gown slit up to you know where. Then Santos formally welcomeed comedienne Mitch Valdes as the new regular host of the “Anything Goes” portion of Vilma. In appreciation, Valdes said the only way she could reach as many people as possible was to be on the top actress’ show where the viewership is tops. And as reported earlieer, Santos made the much-awaited announcement about the five actors who, from now on, will act as her permanent co-hosts. The actress did the introduction via the song Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and the five guys appeared on stage one by one singing the Beatles’ tunes: Got to Get You into My Life by Richard Gomez; Come Together by Aga Muhlach; The Long and Winding Road by Miguel Rodriguez; I Heard the News by Monsour del Rosario; and Get Back by Ronnie Rickets. Then the five handsome gentlemen sang Strawberry Fields Forever and With a Little Help from My Friends with Santos, as if in heartfelt acceptance of their new and permanent roles in the show. What followed was a medley of songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific with Rowell Santiago, Dawn Zulueta, Louie Heredia and Arlene Muhlach. Santiago and Heredia looked dashing in their officers’ uniforms. Zulueta was her usual beautiful self and we’re really glad the appearance of Muhlach who has been hounded recently by nasty rumors. It was nice seeing her up and about and obviously having the time of her life with their bouncy number. The whole presentation had something for the kids, too, as Santos and Paulate did the song High Hope, from a Frank Sinatra movie, with lovable child stars Billie Joe and Aiza Seguerra.
What took us by surprise, however, was Snooky Serna’s version of Diano Ross’ Good Morning Heartache, from Lady Sings The Blues. Serna’s interpretation was so good she did not miss a simple right note. And even if she did, we wouldn’t have the heart to criticize her – she looked absolutely radiant in her resplendent gown that night. After the soulful number, came the medley from Grease with Aga Muhlach and Bing Loyzaga and Cheene de Leon and Dingdogn Avanzado, ostensibly to please teh “Bagets” crowd. The four young stars did their song-and-dance number with no much gusto; their stamina was almost contangious. Muhlach was in a happy mood and the well-dressed Loyzaga complemented her partner. There was a certain chemistry between the bubbly De Leon lass and the boyish-looking Avanzado. Truly, these young stars exuded the prime of youth. The finale number of the anniversary presentation’s first half was a romantic duet – If Ever I would Leave You with Santos and Miguel Rodriguez. The actor-politician could really belt out a song with his powerful singing voice to match his good looks. Of the 34 stars the show has announced to grace the show, 19 have made their appearance in last Friday’s live presentation; we expect to see the 15 remaining guest stars to complete the list in next week’s episode of the show. If the next telecast turns out even only half as good as teh first, then the people who stayed at the Folk Arts Theater for four solid hours and watched the top-rating show in its entirety would not have waste their time and effort in viewing the GMA 7’s prime-time hit. – Meg Mendoza, Manila Standard, October 10, 1988 (READ MORE)