(*) Ewa Procter
“O Despertar da Primavera” (or “Spring Awakening” in English) is a famous play by Frank Wedekind that has been adapted into a musical many years after it was first written. Steven Sater, responsible for the text and the lyrics, and Duncan Sheik for the music, had their work produced on Broadway in 2006; and at that time, they received several favorable critics.
But quickly going back into a recent past: in 2009, Charles Moeller and Cláudio Botelho presented the first Brazilian version of “O Despertar da Primavera – o Musical”. Now, ten years later, they give us a different way of staging this musical. It is interesting to notice that now the entire performance relies mostly on the acting and on the singing of the entire cast. Even the set (by Rogério Falcão) is very basic and simple.
A few curiosities about this play: in the original 1891 text, it denounced the prejudice and conservatism of the three major institutions that rule people’s lives: family, church and school. It caused a tremendous discussion when the play was launched, as it touched on taboos and was a manifest on freedom, questioning repression that took place both at the family home and in the German teaching system. However, it is interesting to note that the author believed so much in his work that he himself financed the publication of his text, even if it was in a limited edition. But it was only in 1906 that the first staging happened; and it was then forbidden. In 1908, the play was totally vetoed, with the threat that those who did not obey this order could be arrested!
It was in 1912 that Wedekind managed to stage the play in England, but only in German and with a restricted audience. In the United States, many years passed, and it was only in 1917 that the authorization for an English version was obtained. However, the day before the opening in New York, once again the play was forbidden! A single presentation was made possible due to the effort of local actors and actresses. Wedekind died a year later, and unfortunately, he was unable to see how successful his play would become for future generations.
However, Kadidja, Wedekind’s daughter when she exiled herself in the United States, managed to stage the play in 1958 at the University of Chicago. Soon the play became mandatory in North American schools. It became a hymn among the young people and was staged all over the world. The first professional and full version of “Spring Awakening” happened only in 1974 in England, eighty-three years after it was written. This British version was the basis of the entire adaptation work for the musical.
And now we have the second version of this musical here in Rio! Once again, a show by Charles Moeller and Cláudio Botelho. And Charles Moeller directs, and Cláudio Botelho is responsible for the Brazilian version of the show and for its Musical Supervision. The large (mostly young) cast has eighteen actors and actresses who have beautiful voices and sing well. In the technical team, we have among others, Marcelo Castro responsible for the Musical Direction, Paulo César Medeiros for the lighting, and Marcelo Marques for the costumes. The orchestra has eight musicians who play live a variety of instruments, such as violin, viola, cello and percussion.
When I watched this musical at a special evening by invitation only, there was an interesting end of the show: the present cast called the cast of ten years ago to go up on stage, and to take part in the joy of a happy performance.
“O Despertar da Primavera – o Musical” plays at the Theatro Net Rio, in Copacabana, on Rua Siqueira Campos, 143 – 2nd floor, a building known as the Shopping dos Antiquários. There is paid parking inside if you prefer going by car, but the metro station (Siqueira Campos exit) is half a block away. Also, there are many taxis available at the door once the play is over. “O Despertar da Primavera – O Musical” opened on the 1st of November and is scheduled to run in Rio until the 22nd of December 2019. Performances take place on Fridays at 08:00 P.M, and Saturdays and Sundays at 07:00 P.M. It lasts for 120 minutes with a fifteen-minute interval. Prices vary from R$ 50,00 (fity Reais) to R$ 130,00 (one hundred and thirty Reais) on Fridays; and from R$ 50,00 (fifty Reais) to R$ 150,00 (one hundred and fifty Reais) on Saturdays and Sundays. This musical is not recommended for young people under the age of sixteen.
And now a special note for my São Paulo readers: there will be a run of this musical in São Paulo. But dates and places of presentation will only be publicized later.
(*) Ewa Procter is a writer and a theatre translator, and
Chair of the Instituto Cultural Chiquinha Gonzaga.