Theater Review: Spring Awakening

Pangdemonium kicks off the year with its highly anticipated production of the Broadway rock musical that won eight Tony Awards and garnered rave reviews. The bold, in-your-face and brutally blunt musical injects some fresh blood into the local theatre scene and is an enthralling blend of well-designed lighting, charming costumes, sensational singing and memorable performances.
The set design was relatively minimalist yet no stone was left unturned when it came to the details. A whitewashed backdrop of intricate fabric took us in the moment we laid our eyes on stage, and an angled protrusion at its front decidedly persuaded us that we were in their world. Without a doubt, the young sons of producers Tracie and Adrian Pang proved they had what it took as they lured the audience into the musical’s first scene.
The controversial (by local standards, maybe) Spring Awakening, which was first staged on Broadway, has Steven Sater to thank for its provoking lyrics, and was based on the play by German Frank Wedekind. Though set more than a century ago, Julia Abueva (as Wendla), Nathan Hartono (as Melchior) and the rest of the brilliant and young cast convey the coming-of-age tale of angst, disappointment, loss and discovery effortlessly to a modern audience through their powerful acting and mesmerizing vocals. We were taken on a familiar and relatable story of teenage curiosity clashing with parental authority, the discovery of first loves, the loss of innocence, the brunt of expectations, dealing with failure and reconciling loss with our evolving identities.
Julia Abueva does justice to her being profiled by Oprah Winfrey as one of the most talented kids in the world as she brings to the stage a sweet, beautiful and haunting voice that complements her gripping depiction of Wendla. First-time actor Nathan Hartono delivers convincingly as he steps out of his comfort zone to embody Melchior. Credit must also be given to Eden Ang for his compelling role as Melchior’s long time buddy Moritz.
Veteran Adrian Pang and a very capable Candice De Rozario are adept in portraying the whole range of adult men and women respectively in the musical – from eliciting boisterous laughs with their comedic scenes to an emotional performance by Adrian near the closing scenes.
Undeniably, this has to be one of the freshest and most daring plays we’ve seen to date—and Pangdemonium has established itself as a theatrical powerhouse presenting shows that are worth your every penny. We really wouldn’t mind watching this again.

Spring Awakening runs through February 26.