Words by: Miko Insame
Photos by: Ateneo Blue Repertory
Ateneo Blue Repertory caps off its 27th production season with Spring Awakening, the Tony-award winning musical created by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater.
In a story that revolves around sexuality, puberty, mental illness, and the divide between parent and child set against the backdrop of 1890s Germany, blueREP has succeeded in crafting a captivating and moving piece of theater that further proves the importance of Areté, Ateneo’s new fine arts building.
The WIM Squad was able to catch them on their press night last Saturday, March 30 as we got to watch firsthand the story of Spring Awakening as told by blueREP.
Spring Awakening features a ton of star power at the helm with the artistic team consisting of stars in the Philippine musical theater scene. Co-directors Missy Maramara and Darrell Uy are assisted by their assistants for both Dramaturgy (John Paul Manlapaz and Isyan Sandoval) and Directing (Kyra Soriano and Robert Tan). Musical direction is provided by Ejay Yatco, assisted by Thirdy Saruca and Marty Nevada. The choreography is in the care of Mica Fajardo. All members of the artistic team are either alumni or current members of blueREP.
The audience is seated on the stage of Hyundai Hall itself, surrounding the performance space and making it a more intimate and personal affair.
The set design is a great example of no-frills theater. Spring Awakening features wooden designs, with smartly placed isolated areas where smaller, more intimate scenes could be separated from the bigger stage area. The lights become crucial to this, as they ultimately determine what part of the set audiences will turn to. This harmonious relationship between the shadows and silhouettes between set and lights are made possible by set designer Ohm David and lights designer Miyo Sta. Maria.
As for Spring Awakening’s cast of characters, they feature an absurdly talented pool of actors from top to bottom. The lead performers of Press Night run, Sandino Martin (Melchior), KC Kane (Wendla) and Juancho Gabriel (Moritz), command attention in both scenes and production numbers. All three have undeniable chemistry with themselves and the rest of the cast. From Martin’s cool and confident control of Melchior to Gabriel’s transformation from skittish and determined to a desperate and despairing Moritz. Kane especially showed great control and consistency in her portrayal of Wendla, a constant presence of innocence slowly being corrupted by the environment around her.
The main cast has alternate actors which give all the more incentive to watch multiple times, Erika Rafael also plays Wendla, Ian Pangilinan alternates Martin as Melchior, and Jason Tan Liwag is the alternate for Moritz. Maia Dapul and Nyla Festejo also split performances as Thea, while Sofia Santelices splits the role of the Female Adult with Abi Sulit.
Not to be discredited are the captivating performers making up the ensemble. Fluid and dynamic, the ensemble not only elevates the show, but they positively affect the entirety of the show that would be impossible to do with just the lead roles. Anton Peralta and JP Lapuz both commit to and uplift each other as Hanschen and Ernst, while LJ Galvez’s voice as Otto is a distinct highlight of the show.
While we could spend more time gushing about what made this show great, the better idea to follow is to explain why Spring Awakening is worth watching.
More than just the performances, Spring Awakening is a must-watch because it talks about things that should be talked about.
The entire premise of Spring Awakening revolves around the divide between the youth and those who raise the youth. It’s clear that there are themes, images, and actions in this play that are visceral and disturbing, but that should be the case. Spring Awakening sings out loud that these are precisely the sorts of things the older generation, parents especially, should be discussing with the youth. Things like mental health, depression, sexuality, premarital sex, and teenage pregnancy are all things tackled in Spring Awakening in a moving and captivating fashion. The kind of issues that teenagers are struggling with today that can be tackled and preemptively resolved when they are allowed to think, feel, and mature as their own selves, guided but not controlled by those who raise them.
It is something that clearly means so much more than performance art for its own sake to the people behind it, and it’s clear that the story they tell is for the people who may experience what they portray on a day-to-day basis, to show that they are not alone. Clearly, this staging of Spring Awakening, blueREP’s second run of the show since 2013, is more than a captivating and sublime piece of performance art, it is a labor of love and service to each and every person who has worked on it and to every person who will have the pleasure of watching blueREP do what they do.
Ateneo Blue Repertory’s Spring Awakening runs from March 29 to April 14.
March 29, April 4-5, April 10-12 (8PM)
March 30-31, April 6-7, April 13-14 (3PM and 7PM)
For ticketing details, contact Pia Ventura at 09267145057 or Isagani Tan at 09177906739.
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