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BWW Reviews: UNIVERSES' SPRING TRAINING Brings New Perspective to Chapel Hill

Closing out the 2012-2013 season at PlayMakers Repertory Company is the world premeire of Spring Training, a commissioned work by UNIVERSES, as a part of their prc2 line-up. UNIVERSES is a group of performers who create original work using a blend of performance styles, including vocal percussion, spoken poetry, music, and prose (and much more) to create dynamic new theater. Spring Training was inspired by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, and deals with coming of age in America.

Spring Training explores what it means to be American, and deals with painful issues of growing up much too fast and coming to terms with one's new, grown-up self. It centers around four characters, each played by one of the four performers: Steven Sapp, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Gamal Abdel Chasten, and William Ruiz. The characters include a daughter of Antiguan immigrants, a young girl attempting to come to terms with her mother's tragic death, a young man attempting to preserve the spirit of his late love, and a math whiz whose life keeps falling apart the moment it seems to be coming together, whose major influence in life is Apocalypse Now. The four actors explore the seasons of these characters' lives. They deal with very real and personal issues ranging from violence, race, and addiction to the education system, gentrification, and sexism, and so much more in between. It is quite clear that death and loss seem to be major catalysts in the process of growing up.

UNIVERSES creates a performance that must be seen and experienced to truly understand - no amount of explanation can accurately capture what exactly they do in their very unique and engaging performance style. Their vocal percussion and music (all done a capella) is quite stunning, in addition to the content of the work being very moving. All four performers bring a unique perspective and ability to the group, and they work as one seamless whole under the direction of Chay Yew. Though UNIVERSES may be four individuals, they seem to have one heartbeat pulsing through them. Their own brand of theater is a departure from what most theatergoing audiences are accustomed to, which is exactly why audiences should flock to see it. The combination of rhythm, music, spoken word, and the profound subject matter are a bold and fresh take on Stravinsky's Rite of Spring that would be a shame to miss.

Spring Training runs through April 28. For tickets and more information, visit

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