With “Standout” as its theme, the sixth Live Exam of “Artista Academy” got off to a predictable start as the same names stood out in the initial song and dance competition which featured separate numbers from the boys and the girls.
As Akihiro Blanco, Vin Abrenica and Mark Neumann were cited as standouts in the boys’ interpretation of The Wanted’s “Glad You Came,” frustrated critic Gelli De Belen wondered if the others would spring some surprises.
The others responded. Malak So Shdifat and Shaira Mae joined favorites Chanel Morales and Sophie Albert among the top performers in the girls’ rendition of The Pussycat Dolls’ “When I Grow Up.”
But the biggest surprise came in the second part of the country’s biggest and most intensive talent search as the scholars this time starred in their own short films directed by acting coach Joel Lamangan and critic Mac Alejandre, who happen to be two of the industry’s most accomplished directors.
In Joel Lamangan’s “Takas,” the remaining seven girls played students escaping a prostitution den. As they rested and blamed one of their classmates for luring them into that fix, each scholar was given a chance to shine by scriptwriter Elmer Gatchalian.
As expected, Chanel and Sophie stood out with their performances. But the biggest surprise, much to the delight of Gelli and the other critics, is Shaira Mae who registered well on what is officially her very first movie, even if only briefly.
While she has yet to land in the bottom three, Shaira Mae was also not considered a serious threat as her performances in the previous weeks were just okay enough to keep her in the safe zone.
She finally came out of her shell and delivered a long overdue breakout performance. If Shaira Mae keeps this up, the Shaina Magdayao deadringer could very well change the complexion of the competition in the weeks to come.
Stephanie Rowe was also cited by one critic for her performance, but Malak and Nicole Estrada were not so fortunate as they were specifically called out by Gelli for not making sure they’re seen by the camera.
As also observed by Lorna Tolentino, the faces of Malak and Nicole were covered by their hair so they weren’t seen as much as the others. Still, Malak did just enough to impress Direk Mac who included her in his list of top performers.
In “The Initiation,” Direk Mac takes us to the scene of a fraternity hazing conducted by guest star Alwyn Uytingco where the five remaining boys play neophytes being initiated into the brotherhood.
Even as all the boys left an indelible mark on all the critics who did not call out a single bad performance, it was Akihiro Blanco who got a couple of honorable mentions from LT and “AA” Principal Wilma Galvante.
“You made us so proud,” exclaimed both Wilma and Direk Mac in acknowledging the good job of the boys.
But it was Benjo Leoncio who got an unexpected boost after he accidentally got hit in the nose during the shoot. In paying tribute to Benjo’s firm resolve and resilience, Direk Mac noted his admirable professionalism in making sure the show must go on despite the unfortunate incident.
“Tonight, feels like,the best night of my life, tonight,” Benjo later tweeted after getting the best feedback from the critics since the competition started.
That alone may have bought Benjo another week. A constant fixture on the bottom three, Benjo finds himself again in this perilous situation this coming Monday, along with Nicole and Steph.
However, instead of just a mere bottom three, Principal Galvante announced a Danger 6 with Malak, Marvelous and Alberto Bruno.
Marvelous and Bruno lost the momentum they gained from the previous week’s performance as they went literally unnoticed this week.
Like Brent before her, Nicole can’t seem to catch a break from the critics. If she survives Monday’s expulsion, she would really need to pull a spectacular feat similar to what Shaira Mae did in the latest Live Exam—not easy but also not impossible.
And Malak may be in the most danger of getting kicked out as in addition to her less than stellar showing, she also failed to make the scholars’ Hong Kong field trip due to passport issues. Definitely not a very good week for her.
As Principal Galvante noted, the Hong Kong trip also forms part of their overall grades so Malak needs a lot of text votes from fans if she wants her quest for fame, fortune and stardom to continue.
There are two things the scholars and the critics learned this week. One is that Vin and Chanel are not yet a lock for the P20 million cash prize for Best Actor and Best Actress. And two, it only takes one stroke of misfortune to either get back in contention or fall by the wayside as Benjo and Malak found out.
To vote for you favorite “Artista Academy” students and save them from elimination, text AA space (name of student) and send to 5656.
“Artista Academy” airs on TV5 every Monday to Friday at 9PM and every Saturdays at 9:30PM.