BWW Review: Must-See SPRING AWAKENING at blueREP; Show Closes This Weekend
Manila, Philippines--Stage plays are meant to entertain and leave the audiences in complete awe. However, only a few would surely engage the audiences to review their morals and examine their convictions. Such is the Broadway musical "Spring Awakening," produced for the second time by the Ateneo Blue Repertory (blueREP).
The musical, based on the 1891 play of the same name by Frank Wedekind, set in the last quarter of 19th Century Conservative Germany, tells the story of a group of adolescents and their rendezvous with adulthood. A classic coming-of-age story whose prime objective is for theatergoers to see themselves and remember their innocent years growing up in a familiar neighborhood.
"Spring Awakening" never loses its luster as the themes proved timely as ever. Even the issues addressed to the youth and the adults are a complete reflection of a society cloaked in conservatism and yet yells out for freedom and modernism. The musical, which adheres to the beauty of the body and not its vulgarity, is not just another story lifted from the shelves but a period piece that's far from being socially obsolete.
In fact, the characters mirror the typical youth: naive while the adults are depicted as dogmatic and indifferent to the needs of the youth who are experiencing physical and even emotional changes. This kind of predicament as mirrored in the story is the ultimate tragedy as both parties lack decent communication. Therefore, impartially concealing the truth that led to the destruction and trauma of a relationship that should have been built on mutual trust and confidence.
With a female director at the helm of this production, Missy Maramara, this "Spring Awakening" becomes more meaningful and the message more profound. The musical is not a collection of several torch songs and melancholic narratives, on the contrary, the songs (music by Duncan Sheik, lyrics by Steven Sater) are written to describe and invite an otherwise mystified group of playgoers who just expect a normal stroll at the theatre. Likewise, the music is not meant to stand far from the play. "Spring Awakening" is marketed as a set: book, lyrics, music, script, and the rest, which explains why a minor error would ensure the collapse of any staging. This, however, is not a problem for blueREP. Director Maramara ensured that everyone read the script carefully, sang the songs with the right emotions, and most importantly, properly oriented on the importance of "trust." Ironically, "trust" is a central element and value the musical would like to convey to the audiences; and the lack of trust--in any form--kills not only credibility but also the body itself.
The cast are a mix of students and professional actors and they contributed to the fusion of talents that could help them in enhancing their acting laurels. They're neither excellent nor poor bunch of a cast, they're just right and if to be compared to a beverage, they can surely refresh the drinker--enough to quench thirst and recharge a person who's about to face a 40 degrees Celsius El Nino de Manila outside the Arete.
It's rather not surprising that Ateneo de Manila University, a Jesuit-run academic institution, agreed to have this provocative musical produced for the second time. It's good to note that the Jesuits are known as good educators, however, only a few people know that the Jesuits are perhaps one of the most liberal Catholic Congregations in the world. In fact, certain Jesuit academics such as Baltasar Gracian and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin had their works censored by the Holy See due to their unorthodoxy to the traditional doctrines of the Church. Nevertheless, both enjoyed relative fame for their contributions to sciences and letters. That's why blueREP has a good potential to be a breeding ground for thought-provoking plays to be unearthed and be a catalyst for young playwrights and theater practitioners to practice their craft.
In sum, "Spring Awakening" is an eye-opener for the young people and for all ages for that matter. It's something to be seen for you to examine how far you have become as a person, a being.
Brought to you by blueREP, "Spring Awakening" closes this weekend, until April 14, 2019, at the Hyundai Hall of the Ateneo Arte, Ateneo de Manila University, Katipunan, Quezon City.
Get your tickets from Pia Ventura at 0926 7145057 or Isagani Tan at 0917 7906739.
Photos: Oliver Oliveros