Friday, February 17, 2012

Spring Awakening .. My Awakening ...

Produced by : Pangdemonium Productions
Time / Date : 8pm / 15th Feb 2012

Venue : Singapore Drama Theatre, National Library

“Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves.”

Spring Awakening (SA) by Pangdemonium tries to put out the above message .. in the form of a rock musical. It succeeded... beautifully.

Check out the set ..
The entire show was done around 1 set. It was a beautifully designed and produced set. The band members were seated behind the set and a portion of the set was “into” the crowd giving the feeling that you are at a concert standing in the mosh pits. Thanks to D for the great tickets.

I was full of anticipation and expectations before the show as I read the many glowing reviews about this local variant of SA. I have heard about SA overseas but was never able to catch it. Common descriptions of SA were, “daring ... full of energy ...  risque ... touching ... relevant..” The song “My Junk” is described as a very “interesting” take on a love song.

To start off, when I was going through the cast .. only Adrian Pang and Candice de Rozario popped up as common names.. the rest I had to read through their background and realise .. “Ohhhh ... it is that guy ah ...” Lim Yu-Beng doing Lighting Design ??

The show started off brightly with the 3 kids setting the scene of the friendship between Moritz, Melchior and Wendla. This was followed by Wendla all grown up as a teenager pondering about the “birds and the bees.” I shall not continue on with the story as you have to see it yourself.
Adrian Pang as a German school teacher
On the whole, the acting was a bit strained at times. I could sense the slight hesitation in the young actors and that little lack of confidence. You can immediately see the difference in the quality between Adrian/Candice and the young actors. This is apparent in their facial expressions when they show their feelings as it seems a bit strained and single dimensional. I felt that Nathan (Melchior) looked the same when was happy and when he was sad. Also he seemed a bit tense on stage .. he was standing with his shoulders very much hunched and awkward at times. This as compared to the measured expressions and poise of Adrian Pang.

However, it is also very apparent that Julia (Wendla) has had quite a bit of acting experience. It is my personal view that she was the outstanding performer in that show. There were certain “difficult” scenes throughout the show and she played her part masterfully, full of confidence and it all seemed so natural for her.  Another person who stood out to me was Rebecca (Ilse). She also played her part well.
The female cast
From the acting point of view, the female cast members played their roles better than the male members. The male cast members lacked the finesse and “polishness” which can only come about with prior stage acting experience. They were trying their best but there were one-two times where they seemed to be over-acting.

The singing and dancing was where everyone shone. As SA is considered to be a musical, this is where it all matters. Before that, high praise must go to the music team, from Wenfu to each and every one of the band members. They were awesome. It was not all about loud music but all the slight sounds and background music which made everything on the stage work. The production / stage guys were also magnificent with extra praise to the “followspot” guy. Good theatre is very often ruined by a bad production team but in this, case the excellent production team took the show to another level.

Classic ...
All the cast members can not only sing but also dance. It is actually pretty funny seeing Adrian and Candice rocking it out on stage. Songs by individuals were good .. the songs with “many” were better. The blending of the voices was very well done with perfect intonation by all of the cast. For most of the songs, the lyrics were loud and clear. There were one or two bits where Eden (Moritz) was more shrieking/shouting than singing. However this was probably due to the high energy in him and the portrayal of the release of his angst. However, is it just me or does Eden sound a bit nasal? Maybe again, he is trying to play his role as a snivelling, confused teenager who has led a life of constantly being berated by his father.

Overall, someone who wants the typical “ha-ha-ha” kind of comedy theatre need not watch this show. However, someone who wants to be “entertained” and be treated to feelings of happiness and sadness ... wonder and shock ... then Pangdemonium’s Spring Awakening is definitely something you have to catch. I highly recommend this show to teenagers and to parents and anyone who wants to see Candice de Rosario making out !!!! Though, this may have been set in Germany in the late 19th century, the issues it addresses (puberty, homosexuality, abortion, religion, sexuality, spanking, falling in lust with your piano teacher etc.) are issues which are still very much relevant today. Teenagers in every country also have to deal with these issues in their own ways. It is important to realise what can go wrong if these issues are not addressed properly ...

Good job guys. Thanks to the Pangs for daring to bring Spring Awakening to us. Thanks also for introducing us to this new crop of young talents. If they are the future of Singapore Arts, then I think the future will be bright....

The future of our local arts scene ...

“...we’ve got our junk .. and my junk is you ....”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Post CNY-merriment ... Spring Awakening

A Happy & Prosperous Chinese New Year to all my readers (yup .. all 3 of you and the 1 who accidentally clicked on my link). May 2012 bring you bucketloads of prosperity and wealth until it all spills over to me.

GonG Xi Fa Cai !!!!

In China, CNY is also known as the "Spring Festival," how apt is it that I am gonna watch Spring Awakenings in 2 days time ...!!! In typical Pangdemonium style .. promotion of this show was done tastefully and rather low key and under the radar. No LOUD advertisements being flashed on billboards, taxi doors and buses.

Of course, this is not gonna be a show for the masses as from what I have heard (I have not read the original book) .. it deals with several "real-life" topics which are very much taboo in our Asian culture, issues which all teenagers face but are too afraid to talk about .. I wonder how is it gonna be played out here in Singapore. I have read several reviews and spoke to some of my friends who have already caught it and they gave pretty good reviews about it. Many of them felt that it connected to them and was better understood than 2011's "Into the Woods," which many felt was rather abstract and draggy. This is a musical so I am gonna be expecting lots of high-energy dancing. As it is a ROCK musical .. I expect to be deaf by the end of the night !!

Anyways .. it will be good to see Adrian Pang in the theatre again. The last I saw him perform was at "Into the Woods" where he was not exactly the main cast as he was in "Boeing, Boeing." I like Adrian because he does not overact .. he just does enough .. and he has very good diction and has a very pleasant "angmoh" accent.

Anyways ... I haven't had my "arts fix" for a few weeks so I am very very very much looking forward to catching this.  Will post my review after.. stay tuned. Anyone wanna join me????

Get your tickets .. show running from now until the 26th Feb 2012 at Drama Centre Theatre.

In the meantime .. a happy Spring Festival to you all ... hope you get your Awakenings too :)