Saturday, October 10, 2009

Spring Awakening (Atlantis Productions)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

I have not seen the original Broadway version, but I think this one just lacks the intensity. The premise itself is daring enough, but I think it is up to the cast to make the material more edgy.

Totally Fucked, without a doubt, is the musical highlight of the show. All the angst that seems to be lacking from the earlier musical numbers are released here, and you can just feel the energy of the cast rocking the stage. The Song of Purple Summer is well sung, perfect blending of voices just apt for a finale.

My favorite scene would be the whipping scene where Wendla begs Melchior to beat her. It is a rather funny scene, but I can just feel her numbness. I think the scene means something more symbolic, a metaphor. It is not numbness in the literal sense but more of the effect of being overprotected, or the exact opposite. You have been so accustomed to pain, or the lack of it, that you do not feel it anymore, and you beg for it just to prove to yourself that you are still human. Living.

I like Melchior's quote which goes something like, Shame is just a product of education. I kind of agree with him. The more we apply rules and invent norms just to say that we are human the more they give rise to complicated situations and taboo topics that are otherwise simple, and really just part and parcel of being human beings.

I like another dialogue here between Moritz and Ilse:

ILSE: What are you looking for?

MORITZ: I don't know

ILSE: Then what's the point of looking?

Shit, I could super relate to this. HAHAHAHA. Lost souls.

Joaquin Valdes (Melchior) comes close to giving justice to the role. His voice is impressive and solid, although I am in doubt if it would be the same case had the musical been staged in a not so intimate venue such as the Carlos Romulo. He does confused and repressed rebel quite well. I particularly like the first scene where he bottles his emotions in front of the professor. The watering eyes and the tense facial expression is very convincing. But I think it is also this lingering uptight aura that makes his portrayal a bit awkward all throughout the show.

Kelly Latti (Wendla) is just okay. It is just that she does not have enough spunk, or maybe it is just the character's naivety that makes it all boring. It does not help that I keep imagining Lea Michele doing the role. Her Mama Who Bore Me solo opens the show. I do not know if it is just me but I find it a bit boring, or maybe it is really not just meant to be a showstopper.

It is known early on that Sitti is also in the show, but you do not recognize her immediately onstage. She becomes just one of the girls. It is refreshing to see her sing something other than Bossa, but I think it is also because of that Bossa background that in some instances her voice seems overwhelmed by the much louder orchestra.

Bea Garcia's (Ilse) voice jives well with the musical accompaniment, specially with the bass. Her voice is just pleasant to the ears and comes off stronger compared to that of Sitti's or Kelly's. And may I just say that she totally owns the The Dark I Know Well duet, gives Sitti a run for her money. Her Blue Wind solo is effortless. And her duet with Nicco Manalo (Moritz) is just wonderful.

I am underwhelmed with Nicco Manalo's Don't Do Sadness. His voice fits the rock-ish vibe of the song, but something is just off. I just cannot figure out which. Maybe it is not the song but his portrayal of the character? It is just that I have seen some clips of Moritz on Youtube done with much more conviction and just the right amount of angst by the original Broadway actor.

I have been forever wondering why the portrayal of Ernst and Hanschen hints some sort of effeminacy. But then the reprise duet of The Word of Your Body confirms the audience's doubts. My problem with Nar Cabico though is that I've seen Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal twice, and he played Didi on both occasions. So when I see him here onstage I do not see Ernst. Instead I see Nar Cabico playing Didi trying to be Ernst. I keep expecting that he would throw in an ad lib or two and steal the show for himself. Fortunately, he does not. As for JC Santos, his portrayal is just appropriate. He does not go overboard.

Jett Pangan and Cheska Iñigo provide solid support performances. They play multiple characters, and you almost get lost as to who they are playing, but they try hard to give each one a distinct character based on various mannerisms and speech patterns.

Overall I guess it is the intensity that is lacking in this local version. I suggest more energy on the other musical numbers. The show is really liberal and might raise a few conservative eyebrows, specially on some scenes where partial nudity is involved. A lot of legs actually, and some daring scenes that might require parental guidance to those innocent minds. As if they still exist nowadays.

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