Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening
Book and lyrics by Steven Sater, music by Duncan Sheik, original play by Franz Wedekind. Monash University Student Theatre with Monash University Academy of Performing Arts. Director: Yvonne Virsik. Musical Director: Tom Pitts. Choreographers: Kirsten Adriaan & Yvonne Virsik. Alexander Theatre. September 30 - October 8, 2011

Unfamiliar with the musical Spring Awakening, I had a quick read of the program which indicated I could expect plenty of sex, suicide, masturbation, rape, homosexuality and abortion. As my wife was unable to attend I was so pleased I’d invited one of the older ladies from church!

We were blown away!

It wasn’t just the raw power of this work, it was the professional execution by a very young, talented and well drilled cast.

The original German play was written in 1891 when sex education did not exist. It basically highlights the problems this can lead to; and the consequences in this case were horrendous, with the boy being sent to a reformatory, escaping and stumbling on the grave of his girl-friend who had a botched abortion.

Everything about the production had class. The static set comprised a moon filling much of the back of the stage and a structure with ladders on each side, one with the band underneath. Chairs were brought on and off and the rest was done with lighting.

There were no weak performers here. Many were studying at the University Academy, which meant they were probably hoping for a stage career and were getting the training to help them achieve that. All nineteen performers were miked and when they sang ensemble you could hear all the harmonies. This wasn’t one of those Broadway musicals where the chorus sings in unison. There were no unison duets either.

The choreography was effective, strong and tight. The acting was strong and the voices astonishing.

I would have preferred to have the story in the program, as not all words in the songs came across and so I lost some of the sub-plots.

I hope the word gets out and the rest of the season is sold out. It deserves to be.

Graham Ford.

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