Two things happened together to propel me to watch this musical. A friend whatsapp-ed me, highly recommending this musical as her nephew was starring in it. I read up on it but didn’t think much about it. Two days later while discussing with Andreas on his University courses, he mentioned that he wanted to go into the music creative industry. Mike and I were totally lost as to how to advise him. The music creative industry is so wide and we are both unfamiliar with it. Then I recalled how local theatre companies are always asking for volunteers and I suggested to Andreas that he learns through volunteering. I thought it was a good place for him to start. And so, we were at The Drama Centre, hoping something useful would come of it.
The family had asked what the show was about. I was vague. ‘Something about teenager awakening,’ I said. Actually, the SISTIC website synopsis reads ‘Full of heart, humanity and humour, it tells the tale of a group of teenagers embarking on a turbulent journey of self-discovery, each one experiencing a dramatic psychological/emotional/spiritual/sexual awakening.’
At the Drama Centre, the usher took one look at Aaron and asked me how old was he. ‘Thirteen,’ I replied, worried if he would not be allowed it. I hadn’t seen any restriction when I booked the tickets. The usher explained that the musical had mature theme and are not suitable for children below 12, as it was rated NC 16. But since Aaron is (or coming) 13, he was allowed in.
We were seated up close, so close that at times, I felt the singers were looking right at me when they were singing. The stage had a triangular arch with a stained glass window at the top. I asked Aaron where he thought this place was and he replied, ‘Church’.
The musical was written by Frank Wedekind (1864-1918) and takes place in 1900 Germany. (Great for Aaron as he is taking German language.) Like present time Singapore, teenagers are expected to do well academically and not bring shame to their parents. The teenagers, other than coping in school, are also curious about the birds and bees. Sex education are not taught and parents have no idea how to embark on the subject, preferring to brush the questions aside instead of explaining where babies come from. And so, the audience are introduced (if you are Aaron) or reminded (me!) on the angst and anxiety of being a teenager. While there is a small part which dealt with academic failure, the majority of the musical deals with teenage sexual issues like pornography, masturbation, homosexuality, first time sex and abortion, most of which were played out quite explicitly that night. This mother watching was very uncomfortable seating among her sons. Well, I hope that covers everything Aaron needs to know about sex.
Story line aside, the modern music/songs are rather dull and none is catchy enough to leave an impression. The costumes – dresses for the girls and bermudas for the boys are familiar enough that the scene could have taken place in tropical Singapore instead of Germany. The adults wear more ‘period costumes’.
The young actors are enthusiastic, and in my opinion, quite brave, to act out on stage the various intimate acts. (Two boys, or men, kissing quite passionately.) Adrain Pang was brilliant as he took on the various adult roles like teachers, parents, pastor, and doctors etc. It was a family affair for the Pangs as his sons also acted and his wife was the director.
An adult watching this musical would probably come away with a different view from a teenager. I had felt awkward and uncomfortable even if my children were not with me. And how did the teenagers (one almost 13 and one over 19) felt about the musical? Andreas was more vocal. There wasn’t much self-discovery other than sexual, and he wasn’t impressed with the music. I should add that there is a mention by one about not believing in God – blasphemy at that time.
And Aaron? Okay lah, said the almost teenager. Typical!