This reviewer has long been of the opinion that you cannot throw a rock anywhere in the NSW Central Coast without hitting a gifted young musician or musical theatre performer, so it was only a matter of time before someone on “Sydney's Far North Shore” (*patent pending) took the risk of forming a professional co-op theatre company to give the flood of youth talent somewhere to...um, flow. Last year, managing partners of The Nate Butler Studio: Nate Butler and Leisi Edmonds teamed with Toddy Keys and Nathan Dale to form Barn Door Productions.
It's very hard to review Spring Awakening without waxing philosophical about how ridiculous it is, that a musical - based on a 120 year old play opining the extreme negative affects puritanism has had on human nature and mental health - has such searing resonance today...there you have it. So I'll resist the urge to jump on that hackneyed bandwagon lest this review turns into a thesis.
It's quite easy to instead focus on the fact that choosing this show was the perfect metaphor as the company's debut. Veteran MD Andrew Swan has seen more than his fair share of local theatre companies come and go in his 30-odd years behind the baton. They always start full of enthusiasm to present edgy, contemporary works to truly challenge and inspire local performers – but most ended up struggling to appease fickle and conservative (mostly senior) Central Coast audiences. This incredibly successful and deliciously controversial show could not have been a more emphatic way to broadcast the company agenda. The gauntlet has been thrown.
Timing is, indeed, everything, and the timing could not be more perfect. The production certainly lives up to all expectations. The set design, costuming, lighting, sound, direction, music and all performances combine perfectly to ignite the intimate space and transport the audience. The tender numbers tug at all the feels and the raunchy and defiant ensemble numbers made you want to jump up on stage and join them. You really can't ask for much more from a contemporary musical - and diehard fans of this show will not be disappointed. So without singling anyone out, one can only congratulate Leisi Edmonds, the cast and crew as a whole, and eagerly anticipate the next thing to burst free from the Barn Door.