The work, which is based on playwright Frank Wedekind's controversial 1891 play about a group of German adolescents coming to terms with their sexuality, has been reworked by composer Duncan Sheik and librettist-lyricist Steven Sater, who penned a raucous score, reengineered its aesthetic and its characters, and gave the story an intense contemporary makeover, while still keeping it set in the 19th-century. The results are a love it or hate it proposition for some audiences, but the production's energy cannot be denied.
Christy Altomare, as the innocent Wendla, nails the opening number "Mama Who Bore Me," which aptly sets the show's tone, and continues to wow the audience with her powerful vocals and commanding presence. Altomare is also a good match for Kyle Riabko as the rebellious Melchior, who brings just as much intensity to his part and moves through this character's many transitions, both vocally and emotionally, without missing a beat. Blake Bashoff plays the troubled Moritz, the production's endearing slacker, and he handily pulls off most of the show's more rocking solos. As Martha, Sarah Hunt -- a teenager who makes her professional debut in this show -- appears to have eons of experience when she sings the haunting "The Dark I Know Well."
Much of the ensemble are recent college graduates, and they deliver a rawer, less polished performance than their Broadway counterparts. Yet the roughness around the edges feels more authentic to the overall aesthetic and mood of Spring Awakening. Never is this more apparent then in the raucous number "Totally Fucked," where the cast joyfully delivers the requisite chaos (and Bill T. Jones' Tony-winning choreography) with both intensity and fun. You might even wish to join in!
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