By Precious Lee Cundangan
Manila, Philippines, February 27, 2013 -- Until when should the truth be enshrouded with sugar-coated malice? (until it's too late to do anything?)
Ateneo Blue Repertory ("Bare," "Little Shop of Horrors") triumphantly closes its 2012-2013 theater season with "Spring Awakening," a multi-awarded rock musical based on German playwright Frank Wedekind's controversial play of the same name.
In this production of "Spring Awakening," composer Duncan Sheik ("American Psycho," "Whisper House") effectively merges alternative rock with folk rock; book writer Steven Sater ("The Nightingale," "Prometheus Bound") writes the most painful truths about teenage life; and stage director Andrei Nikolai Pamintuan ("Stages of Love") opts for an edgy, straightforward approach to storytelling.
The strongest performances come from Gabriel Medina's Melchior and Bernice Reyes's Wendla. Medina's main character is charismatic; and has a good command of the stage. He clearly delivers his sung and spoken lines; and expresses a gamut of emotions accordingly. Reyes persuasively plays her lead character with childlike innocence, which is riveting as it evolves from naiveness to courage.
Highly commendable performances also belong to Kenneth Keng (Adult Male), LJ Galvez (Adult Female), and the ensemble players that sing in perfect harmony, even during the parts when these chorus members are placed among the audience.
On its technical aspect, lighting designer Meliton Roxas ("Woman In Black," "Fake") shades of dark yellow provide the rustic and earthy feel for the play. It is quite admirable how he uses special lighting to convey isolation during the show's most intense moments.
Choreographer Delphine Buencamino ("Ibalong," "Walang Kukurap"), on the other hand, mixes stylized movements with the wise use of space, which literally engages the audience to dance.
Wedekind's original production of "Spring Awakening" was banned in Germany because of its scenes showing abortion, child abuse, rape, homosexuality, and suicide. Set in the late-19th-century Germany, "Spring Awakening" tells the story of teenagers discovering their sexual identity. Here, the adults play the antagonists that psychologically and emotionally place these young men and women in a gilded cage of false innocence.
Ateneo Blue Repertory's production of Sheik and Sater's "Spring Awakening" runs until Friday, March 1 at Rizal Mini-Theater, Ateneo de Manila University. Visit facebook.com/SpringAwakeningblueREP.
Photo by Jory Rivera