A couple nights ago I was fortunate enough to go see Spring Awakening at the San Francisco Curran Theatre. The musical is an adaptation of the highly controversial 1890 German play written by Frank Wedekind. In 2007 Spring Awakening won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Spring Awakening features direction by Michael Mayer, choreography by Bill T. Jones, book and lyrics by Steven Sater and a score by Duncan Sheik. The musical has some fundamental differences that majorly alter the motivation and direction of the characters when juxtaposed against the original German text- (what was a rape in the original becomes a consensual sexual act in the American version), but the ideas of struggling for sexual knowledge and identity remain. In addition, the musical version alows the children characters to break through to a fantasy inner life that the audience views as a series of rock songs making the play even more exciting and relevant to modern American audiences. In the nineties Dunkan Sheik wrote the song “I am barely breathing.“
This is marks the Broadway debut for Kyle Riabko and Blake Bashoff, the two young men play the lead characters – Melchior and Moritz. There acting and singing was excellent, however the music itself, for the most part, disappointed me. I felt like I was at an AFI show as I watched them whine continually about their pathetic lives.
The set is relatively minimal considering the size of the production, with audience members seated on the sides of the stage and the band behind. The characters intermingle with the audience, some vocalists are seated as members of the audience and then jump up to perform, the actors onstage regularly break the fourth wall throughout the play. Surprisingly, I thought this worked for the most part and I found my self drawn in and compelled in spite of this shows flaws. It speaks loudly and clearly to its audience and it is easy to see why Spring Awakening continues to be well received and talked about.
The young cast of Spring Awakening also features Christy Altomare (Wendla), Steffi D (Ilse), Krystina Alabado (Swing), Julie Benko (Ensemble), Todd Cerveris (Understudy Adult Men), Chase Davidson (Swing), Kate Fuglei (Understudy Adult Women), Gabrielle Garza (Anna), Kimiko Glenn (Thea), Sarah Hunt (Martha), Anthony Lee Medina (Otto), Andy Mientus (Hanschen), Ben Moss (Ernst), Angela Reed (Adult Women), Perry Sherman (Ensemble), Matt Shingledecker (Georg), Claire Sparks (Ensemble), Henry Stram (Adult Men) and Lucas A. Wells (Ensemble).
Additional tour engagements for Spring Awakening include:
Seattle, WA (Oct. 13-19, at the Paramount)
Portland, OR (Oct. 21-26, at the Civic Auditorium)
Los Angeles, CA (Oct. 27-Dec.7 at the Ahmanson)
Tempe, AZ (Dec. 9-14, at the Gammage Auditorium)
Tampa, FL (Dec. 30, 2008-Jan. 4, 2009, at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center)
Houston, TX (Jan. 6-18, 2009, at the Hobby Center)
Des Moines, IA (Jan. 20-25, 2009, at the Civic Center)
Columbus, OH (Feb. 3-8, 2009, at the Palace Theatre)
St, Louis, MO (Feb. 10-22, 2009, at the Fox Theatre)
East Lansing, MI (Feb. 24-March 1, 2009, at the Wharton Center)
Cleveland, OH (March 3-15, 2009, at Playhouse Square)
Toronto (March 18-April 19, 2009, at the Canon Theatre)
Boston, MA (April 28-May 24, 2009, at the Colonial Theatre)
Pittsburgh, PA (May 26-31, 2009, at Heinz Hall)
Louisville, KY (June 2-7, 2009, at Kentucky Center)
Baltimore, MD (June 9-21, 2009, at the France Merrick Center)
Philadelphia, PA (June 23-28, 2009, at the Kimmel Center)
Washington, D.C. (July 7-Aug. 3, 2009, at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater)
Chicago, IL (Aug. 4-16, 2009, Theatre TBA)