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“Spring Awakening” by Pangdemonium Productions

February 6, 2012
by

Event: “Spring Awakening” by Pangdemonium Productions
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
Run: 3rd – 26th Feb 2012

We’re only in early February, but Pangdemonium Productions might just have already submitted the winning entry for local musical production of the year.

This is not to say the production was perfect by any stretch, but it definitely takes some beating.

It would have been hard to have escaped the publicity materials for this musical the past few weeks, and I must say this has probably been one of the most well-marketed locally-produced musicals in recent memory.

Marketing a rock musical like “Spring Awakening” poses quite a few challenges:

One, the show is a relatively unknown one to the general public. I myself had not been familiar with this show.

Two, “Spring Awakening” deals with slightly darker themes and issues such as teen sex, suicide, incest, and abortion. Not exactly your “Lion King” or your “Mamma Mia!”.

Three, it features a cast of eleven teenagers (or teenage lookalikes), the large majority of whom are relatively unknown to the general Singapore public.

Nonetheless, I think Pangdemonium has done a fantastic job harnessing the power of social media as well as other marketing tools to drum up a palpable sense of hype for this production.

Now on to the musical proper.

The closest comparison one would reach for would be the musical “Rent”, but I think these two musicals probably deserve separate discussions of their own.

“Spring Awakening” is set in 1892 Germany, and is based on a play of the same name by Frank Wedekind.

The music is by Duncan Sheik and the book and lyrics are by Steven Sater.

It documents the growing pains of a group of teenagers and how they struggle with their inherent angst, and how they attempt to discover themselves and solve their own predicaments, sometimes leading to disastrous results.

The show uses only one set, but it is a gloriously-designed one by Eucien Chia that immediately communicates the period and the mood of the piece.

The main cast of eleven must be lauded for their infectious enthusiasm and for all the energy that they bring to the set.

This is, after all, an explosive and energetic piece, backed with scintillating choreography by Bill Calhoun, and you can safely say that the cast had brought their A-game in their performance.

Female lead Julia Abueva impressed with her slick performance and strong vocals, while male lead Nathan Hartono plays “Melchior”, the handsome and charismatic one who is always questioning things around him and wants to change the world for the better.

While the acting in the cast was generally even, special mention must go to Eden Ang (“Moritz”) for his fine performance as the intense, jittery, guitar-wielding friend who is driven to despair, to the point of suicide.

My favourite number was “The Bitch of Living” because of the breathtaking choreography and overall visual spectacle, and “My Junk” and Hanschen and Ernst’s “The Word of Your Body (Reprise)” for their comedic value.

I thought director Tracie Pang did a fantastic job, and the direction for the funeral scene (“Left Behind”) helped make it the most moving moment in the entire musical for me.

Lastly, a shout-out also to Adrian Pang for reminding us once again why he is one of the most gifted and versatile actors around today, as he expertly juggled the various adult male roles with incredible finesse.

Is “Spring Awakening” a musical worth catching?

Most definitely.

It’s a grim and realistic portrayal of the struggles faced by teenagers in their long and arduous journey towards adulthood, and even though it is set two centuries ago, the themes and issues ring ever so familiar even in this day and age.

“This is so not life at all”?

Au contraire.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2012 2:02 pm

    Here’s to another review @HossanLeong

  2. Ilkosa permalink
    February 7, 2012 9:53 am

    Sounds like you enjoyed it very much. Seeing the good reviews so far, I hope I will enjoy it as well. Looking forward.

  3. February 16, 2012 9:35 pm

    Wow, sounds interesting from your review! Thanks for sharing…

  4. pinteresting permalink
    March 6, 2013 6:51 pm

    i have been reading your blog for a while now, and i really do love your writing, i was wondering is there any way you can get updates for the latest article you post on email or even cell, Forgive my immaturity in this as i am really new to this internet stuff

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