Yes, that’s right: 1890s Germany. Together with a superb cast and crew, these things combine in the Soundstage’s production of Spring Awakening. This innovative mixture of the old, the new, and the eternal is going up in Reisinger auditorium at 7 PM Friday, and Saturday, with an additional Saturday matinee at 2 PM.
The musical revolves around the coming of age of a group of young teenagers in Germany at the turn of the last century. The boys and girls are just discovering their sexuality, but the oppressive world in which they live alternately leads them to confusion, rebellion, and clandestine relationships. All of the adults in the show are played by just two actors, Everett Irving (’14) and Ray Schechter (’15), adding to the sense of overbearing, unyielding power of the era’s taboos.
The thirteen actors taking the stage this weekend will be showcasing the hard work that they have done since rehearsals started at the beginning of this semester. Producers Zach Zamchick (’12) and Julia Sinclair (’12) started planning for the show nearly a year ago. They brought on director Sarah Plotkin (’14) and musical director Nour El Rayes (’13), forming a cohesive foundation for a rock-solid show (pardon the pun). Stage manager Rachel Lesel (’15) and her assistant Katie Voss (’15) have attended every single rehearsal and meeting since planning began in earnest around November.
Tassa Markman (’14) plays Thea, the youngest and most naïve of the girls. When asked to pinpoint her favorite moment in the show, she could not decide between “Totally Fucked,” the defiant middle-finger-to-the-Man anthem, and “Purple Summer,” a bittersweet ballad sung by the whole cast. “I love performing the numbers where we all are just doing what we love to do: expressing and performing and kicking absolute ass,” Tassa says. “I can feel the music down to the tips of my toes and with the lights, set, costumes, feeding off of everyone’s energy just gets me every single time.”
Maxwell Hegley (’15) plays Ernst: “It only seems fitting that I’m playing a naïve, nervous, German, gay kid…I think.” You should come see the show “because it’s fucking Spring Awakening! A tale of love, depression and the overall struggle of being a kid in a world of oppression from adults. It rocks. It’s intense. It’s an overall great show. Plus, you know, sexual things on stage is always a plus.” Jeremy Lipsin (’15) plays Georg, who tries to control his overwhelming attraction to his curvaceous piano teacher, Fräulein Grossenbustenhalter (literally, Miss Big Bra.) Jeremy says you should come out to Reisinger this weekend because the show is “full of sex, drugs and rock & roll! What else are college kids interested in these days?” In the interest of full disclosure, he adds, “The make-out scenes are pretty cool too.”
A subject of one of these make-out scenes is Melchior Gabor, played by Elias Higham (’15). It is Melchior’s emotional journey with Wendla, played by Ellen Winter (’14), that arcs throughout the performance. Elias asserts, “The score is just phenomenal. You really can’t find anything like it outside of straight-up rock operas.” Ellen adds, “If you’ve seen the broadway show more times than you can count, I’ll be the first to tell you this isn’t the broadway show. Our Spring Awakening is a fresh take on the stellar original production. It’s not what you’ve seen before. And if this is your first time seeing it— well then, you are in for quite the ride.”
Even from my limited perspective as props wrangler, I can tell that the dedication of all those who have worked on the show will pay off in a big way. Elias says you should come see the show because “the entire cast and crew has worked a ridiculous amount to get this off the ground and we have, at least in my opinion, a great interpretation thanks to our wonderful director Sarah. It’s something that will make you want to laugh, cry, jump up and down, scream out loud, and (most importantly) really think, sometimes all at the same time. Also I take my shirt off.”
You can see Spring Awakening tonight at 7pm, Saturday at 2pm, and Saturday night at 7pm in the Reisinger Concert Hall!
Photography by Ethan Shafran Moltz