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A Gem Named Lani Misalucha

After planning to see Society of Seven with Lani Misalucha for the longest time and not making it for several reasons every time I went to Lost Wages errr Las Vegas I finally made it 2 days before the show ended at Flamingo Hotel & Casino. One of the reason being is that entertainment in Las Vegas offers a variety of original performers and watching Filipina singers in Las Vegas belting out cover songs is not as exciting when one can always watch the original singers themselves performing their signature songs in elaborate productions.
Lani Misalucha

Filipina singers abound and I was under the impression that she is just one of those run of the mill pop singers who will probably be forgotten once you heard them once in a bare bones or skimpy low budgeted to almost no budget typical Filipino production. Boy, did I regret not seeing it earlier as I now realized what I have been missing all along.

Lani Misalucha is basically pure talent, a Lyric Coloratura Soprano with vocal range of more than 4 octaves comparable to other popular divas like Mariah Carey. Her Full-throated, full-chested style and wide range allows her to impersonate and spoof with ease the likes of Whitney Houston, and Celine Dion to Barbara Streisand’s with her agile light voice characterized by “runs and leaps” with high extension. It is just so amazing how she starts soft and thin that gradually thickens as she approaches the peaks of a song, I am definitely a convert and consider myself one of her biggest fans.

I have to include this youtube video of her duet with Grosh Joban just to show how talented she is taking a short leave on her Las Vegas gig when Groban requested her to do a duet with him in Manila, Philippines.

Going back to the show, what they lacked in elaborate stage productions was definitely compensated by the extra-ordinary talent of the performers led by Lani Misalucha who has definitely added value to the Society of Seven’s versatile enduring performances spanning 3 decades. The group is one of the finest Hawaiian legends trying to transplant and establish themselves in the Las Vegas strip and I should say are getting there with an impressive walk of fame star award, the first one conferred to an Asian group.

Their performances although one of the longest ever achieved by Filipinos receiving accolades from critics could have been better as pointed out by Mike Weatherford:

The Society of Seven is a tourist institution in Hawaii, but has battled for years to maintain a high profile on the Strip.

The death of long time member Gary Bautista created a void in the duets with Lani in early 2006. Gary’s stellar voice is definitely irreplaceable observed Mike Weatherford so while it may not be quite the same with the addition of Martin Nievera the son of Bert Nievera one of Society’s original singers it is on a different level, to quote:

When Misalucha and Nievera serve up the inevitable rendition of "The Prayer," or "Somewhere" from "West Side Story," there's no better singing in any ongoing show on the Strip.

While it is one of the longest running shows for a Filipina headliner it still has to attract a wider audience and the group has to think through some of the vital steps to make it even better if they are still around the strip by September as pointed out by Weatherford:

Nievera hit the ground running this time. But if he and the Society are still a packaged deal in September, it will be time to bring in an outside director. Call it "Keeping up with the Scintas," the only other full-time attempt (unless you count Danny Gans) to court customers from the pre-Pure era of Vegas.

The Scintas were wise to sit down with new producers and dissect every element of their Las Vegas Hilton act, though the changes ended up being more subtle than drastic. Likewise, it's time for the Society to back up and rid the show of accumulated tics, such as co-founder Tony Ruivivar repeatedly thanking the audience for coming, which leads to False Finale Syndrome. (He's covering for quick changes backstage, but why not talk about the history of the group or something?)

And while it's cool that Nievera follows in his father's footsteps by doing an impression or two, the rest of the group could follow the lead of his pop hits medley and say, "We're good in our own right too."

Moments such as the group's offering a cappella backing to Misalucha's version of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" give you high hopes for what they could come back with in September if they think this thing through.

Definitely, an outside director can give them the boost and if I may add a producer with wide experience in the strip that are willing to take the risk allocating a bigger budget for the stage and promotion to give them a competitive edge in a place where excess is routine. There is no doubt that Lani Misalucha is a gem of a talent of world class caliber and the Society of Seven composed of veteran performers with wide variety of talents should come back bigger and stronger hopefully establishing their niche in time on the strip.

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