Spring Awakening: A Theatrical Review
Los Angles is about to lose one of its prolific and pertinent directors, Ms. Kate Sullivan to the big lights of New York, but not before he finishes her current amazing run of Steven Stater’s Spring Awakening, based on an original production by Frank Wedekind. This powerful semi-rock musical is a powerful story about the harsh and painful retroactions of legalism verses the understanding and forgiveness that can only be found in grace. It centers on a group of young teens in Germany in the 19th century who are just learning what life, love, and sexuality are all about. The unforgiving mandates of legalistic thinking cause the teens to have little if any education regarding their development and progress into adulthood, which in turn eventually leads to making choices that cause even more pain. The expectations of legalistic thinkers who hide the truths of life from these young people cause the harsh and unacceptable issues of rape and molestation, suicide, teen pregnancy, abortion, and murder. Seen through the eyes of teens trying to figure it all out, Spring Awakening is a powerful program that examines the pain of being a kid, the harsh realities of growing up ignorant to truth, and the heartaches that come from parents, mentors, and teachers never thinking them old enough to handle reality.
Brilliantly cast, Spring Awakening features an entire line up of wonderful singer/dancer/performers. The spotlights will go to four in specific, though each and every performer deserves the recognition and praise that any and every reviewer might give. Matt Vairo portrays Melchior, the young intellectual boy who refuses to wait until reality bites him in the rear end, and chooses to educate himself. In doing so he turns his back on most things legalistic for the powerful allure and wonder of love and intellectual prowess. Vairo is countered by Lindsay Pearce portraying Wendla, the lovely good girl who is ignorant to all realities in life, but longs to know their truths. Both have simply amazing voices, a presence on the stage that is certain to take them a long way for a long time to come in the world of professional theater, and a charisma together that is so believable it begs the question of whether or not there may not actually be a powerful relationship between them. Chase Williamson portrays the misguided and tormented Moritz who offers some delightful rock vocals but still manages to hold onto the vulnerability of a young man that makes him refreshing to the audience. He is countered by the other tormented and tortured young person of the production, Tiffany Gray (no relation that I know of) portraying Martha who is being abused by her own father.
Miss Sullivan has managed to provide Broadway style professional theatre with the passionate need for a psychological understanding to stage in Hollywood once again. Her dedication to her group and the art that she shares with them at her company known at Over The Moon Productions, is totally evident by the power of the performances that every single cast member is able to deliver. She loves to break every known and anticipated rule of the theater, but does so in such a manner as to respect the reasons for those rules in the first place, whether anticipated, expected, or real. In this production her breaking of the fourth wall (the audience being the fourth wall that is never broken because then somehow the audience becomes a part of the show rather than just watching the show) is overwhelmingly powerful. Not only does she send her performers into the audience multiple times to interact with audience members during the production, but she has also chosen to place some special key seating on the stage itself for audience members. Never would these persons know that though they will indeed have a powerful view of the production, they will also somehow be involved in the production as the persons sitting on either side of them will be picking up a microphone and singing as part of the cast and moving on and off the stage for various numbers as well. Way to go Kate, this was simply brilliant!
While there is some brief nudity and simulated sexual acts during the program, and at least one of them may appear to be a bit over the top for some more prudish persons, and there is a good deal of language that is both spoken and sung, everything fits and ties the program together in such a fashion as to make it clear that without any of it, the show would not be the show. So be advised that this is part of the production before you go, and don’t be afraid to bring your teens to this program, they likely know a good deal more than you think they do, and this production may well be the bridge you need to have that uncomfortable conversation that must be had in a manner that will give both grace and comfort to both you and your kids. The show is probably not appropriate for those under age twelve however, so if you have kids that age, get a sitter.
Spring Awakening, offered by Over The Moon Productions, is playing at Theatre of Arts Theatre at 1625 N. Las Palmas Blvd just south of Hollywood Blvd and west of Highland in the heart of Hollywood, CA. Performances are Thursday through Sunday evenings at 8PM (with the exception of Sunday April 5th) through April 22nd. General admission is a very believable $25.00 per seat, and can be purchased by calling 310-903-6150, or logging onto the internet at www.brownpapertickets.com, or www.overthemoonproductions.virb.com. Enjoy!
The California Theatre Critic