Rockin' in Spring
Jett Pangan (The Philippine Star) - September 30, 2009 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Singing for The Dawn involves a whole lot of traveling, gigs that don’t start on time, late nights and a fair amount of celebratory alcohol in smoky rooms as a result thereof, not to mention the ensuing hangovers. That is why I like doing theater from time to time, be it a musical or a straight play, because it re-acquaints me with things like discipline, focus, taking a bite off a co-actor’s baon for lunch, and just plain hard work. In other words, doing theater gives me some sort of balance as an artist. My bandmates support me in this field by giving way schedule-wise (they haven’t fired me yet), and for that I am thankful.

So when Director Chari Arespacochaga asked me to try out for Male Adult in Atlantis Productions’ adaptation of Spring Awakening, it didn’t take very long for me to get back with a “yes!” especially after finding out that the multi-character role does not have singing parts. Well, almost. And for a guy whose main occupation is to belt behind the mic in a rock band, not having to sing (almost) in a musical is very cool! As with most of the theater jobs indicated on my resume, I had no idea what Spring is all about prior to being hired. I did, however, share the relatively common knowledge that the music was made by one of my favorite alternative pop rockers, Duncan Sheik (remember his hit Barely Breathing back in the ’90s?). Anyway, the call came to block off my calendar for rehearsals and performances, and I couldn’t be happier. It was time to work.

And work it has been, lots of it, in this place called Centro Flamenco, a dance studio characterized by its no-nonsense construction consisting of loud wooden floors, wall mirrors, and posters of ladies and gents in their frilly best and exquisite ole! Poses. It’s quite surreal, then, to see a bunch of young men and women portray 19th century teenagers lost in their repressed sexuality amidst energetic photos and fonts screaming “flamenco” and “ritmo!” Looking at such an amusingly strange scenario makes me imagine that we’re doing scenes for a New Order music video or something, after which post-editing will make the film grainy and smudged for full lo-fi effect (yes, my mind dives into weird depths when dealing with downtime during rehearsals. In between memorizing lines and pestering another idle actor, that is).

My imaginings aside, I get stoked each time I land a role in a play because in real-time acting, there’s always that sense of danger and the need for everyone in the production — from the leads down to the guy manning the props table — to excel in their given task. One weak link can break the entire chain. So if I happen to find myself on stage with nothing buy my tightie-whities and a mic pack when it’s not in the script... you do the math.

Fortunately, this production is blessed with a dedicated cast that includes Joaquin Valdes (as male lead Melchior), Cheska Iñigo (who plays a variety of female adult characters opposite yours truly), Sitti (bossa nova siren who plays Martha) and newcomer Kelly Lati as female lead Wendla. Spring Awakening is a Tony and Grammy Award-winning rock musical based on the controversial 1891 German play of the same title by author Frank Wedekind. Book and lyrics by Steven Sater.

The story revolves around teenagers discovering their sexuality at a time when society considered talking about it with them as taboo. Being a father, I find the plot very compelling as it shows parents and elders the dangers of keeping impressionable minds in the dark when it comes to sex and sexuality.

If you like musicals and contemporary rock, then check out Spring Awakening, Oct. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18, at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City.

For tickets, call 892-7078 or 840-1187 or go to (Due to explicit content and some nudity, parental discretion is advised.)

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