Monday, August 17, 2009

Chari, Joaqui, Kelli: It's Spring Awakening in Manila

Atlantis Productions is staging the Tony-winning musical by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, “Spring Awakening”, at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City, from September 25-October 18, 2009. Joaquin Valdes and Kelly Frances Lati lead a cast of young musical-theater actors, under Chari Arespacochaga's direction.

Arespacochaga, an actress, choreographer and educator, is intimately familiar with “Spring Awakening”. As a participant in the MTI Workshops for Teachers of Drama in New York one summer, she passed by at the then off-Broadway production of the show. By chance, an usher had not shown up for work. Arespacochaga was offered a deal---rip tickets at the entrance and get to watch the production for free. It was an offer she could not refuse.

Her reward was to have the choicest seats in the house, right on stage and close to the action. It was there that she marveled at the soon-to-be Tony Award-winning material. “I left the theater in a daze,” she says. “And I knew I wanted to do 'Spring' right after!”

Atlantis’ creative head Bobby Garcia, who spearheaded acquiring the rights to stage “Spring Awakening” directly from its New York producers, says, “I am thrilled Chari is directing “Spring Awakening”. This show is so close to her heart and with her background working with many young performers, I think she will create an exciting and dynamic musical.”

From the start, Arespacochaga has been involved in every step of the production process, heading auditions, consulting with the New York production office for casting, readings and workshops in order to get her cast and crew more than ready for opening night. Her artistic team now includes Tuxqs Rutaquio (set design), Dexter Santos (choreography), Rajo Laurel (costume design), Voltaire de Jesus (lights design) and Jojo Malferari (musical direction).

Portraying the parts of the star-crossed young lovers Melchior Gabor and Wendla Bergman are Joaquin Valdes and Kelly Frances Lati. Valdes is a familiar face on the Philippine stage; he has been performing since 11 years old. The auditions, according to him, were “nerve-wracking. You have to remember everyone wanted to be in the show. Everyone. Not just theater people.” Arespacochaga had to tell him to “to stop, breathe and sing again without the nerves.” He did, and he got the part.

Meanwhile, this will be Lati's professional Philippine theater debut. A former New York resident and now a student at the University of the Asia and the Pacific, she was encouraged by voice mentor Robert Sena to audition for the part. After several callbacks, she bagged the role that Lea Michele originated on Broadway.

Spring Awakening runs September 25–October 18, 2009 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati. For tickets, call 8927078 or 8401187. Due to explicit content and some nudity, parental discretion is strongly advised.


Aggy said...

I'm really excited for this.

By the way...who will be playing Moritz? He's the best character in the musical and overshadows the romantic leads (in my humble opinion). :)

Michelle said...

This is such a good musical. It's really exciting it's opening there. Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

kung nudity lang, wala na tong sinabi sa lulu. ang bagsik! hubad kung hubad talaga

Rio said...

Whatever happened to Miguel Mendoza as Melchior?

nevertheless, I am more than thrilled to hear that Joaqui Valdes would be playing Melchior, he is an amazing performer.

Too bad I won't be able to see this production :(

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