Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Spring Awakening"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |



"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"Spring Awakening"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Un-Common Theatre Young Adult Company's summer show is the first amateur theatre company in the US to present the much acclaimed Broadway musical "Spring Awakening". The show is a rock musical adaptation of the controversial 1891 German play of the same title by Frank Wedekind which was, for a time, banned in Germany due to its portrayal of abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse and suicide. It features music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater and in the musical, alternative rock is employed as part of the folk-infused score. This musical version of "Spring Awakening" opened on Broadway on December 10, 2006, ran for 888 performances, closing on January 18, 2009. It received eleven 2007 Tony Award nominations, winning eight, including best Tonys for best musical, direction, book, score and featured actor. Set in late-19th century Germany, this show tells the story of teenagers who are discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality. The show celebrates the unforgettable journey from youth to adulthood with a power, poignancy and passion that you will never forget. Music and orchestra director, Esther Zabinski, leads the talented cast through Mr. Sheik's astonishing music, ranging from dreamlike ballads to driving, almost religious rock anthems, Christa Crewdson opens the cast to express the turmoil of puberty and the effect that provincialism and overprotective parents have on their children and future generations while Julia Snider choreographs this energetic cast of 26's powerful movements. The results are stunning, leaving the audience in tears and leaping to their feet in unison at the curtain call on a job very well done.

Christa gives each member of her cast a chance to shine in their roles, mixing the comic and dramatic moments together beautifully. Esther's musical direction brings out the best in their vocals and the orchestra is terrific, too. She taught this young cast the intricate melodies and harmonies of each number, creating a terrific balance of voices and instruments. Some of Julia's dance numbers include many different dance styles, dances with chairs and intricate movements up and down ladder like set pieces and the astounding dance movements to the second act show stopping song "Totally Fucked" when Melchior is sent to reform school. Hard working stage manager Val Bedsole keeps things running smoothly while Mike Teixeira designed the set and the gorgeous costumes are by Matt Timmons who just graduated from Ithaca college. Wendla, Melchior and Moritz are the leading players in this show and are played by Emily McDonald, Brendan Duquette and Matt Goldstein. They all have fabulous voices.Emily delivers the goods as this confused young girl who gets caught up in adolescence and tugs at your heartstrings in this show. Wendla sings "Mama Who Bore Me" as she tries to find out where babies come from by asking her mother, The Word of Your Body" when she and Melchior want to give into their sexual inclinations which is a beautiful ballad and sounds like a song from "Les Miz", "I Believe" when she and Melchior have sex, "The Guilty Ones" after they reflect on their love making, "Whispering" when she becomes optimistic about her future child and "Those You've Known" when she and Moritz encourage Melchior to live and carry their memories with him forever which is a superb tearjerking moment in the show. Emily gives a gutwrenching performance as Wendla. Moritz's numbers include "The Bitch of Living", an upbeat number about frustrating thoughts and desires where the boys do a chair dance and pelvic thrusts, "And Then There Were None" about wanting help from Melchior's mother and his devastation at her refusal, and the emotionally draining "Don't Do Sadness" as he wanders through town contemplating suicide and Blue Wind when he refuses Ilse's help, feeling utter despair at his plight, then killing himself. Matt delivers a powerful performance in this tear jerker role. Brendan is superb as the tortured Melchior. The show ends on a hopeful note as Ilse played marvelously by Evyn Whitely whose soulful voice sells "Blue Wind". She and everyone sing "The Song of Purple Summer'. Brendan's tenor voice soars in his duets as well as his solos. ''All That's Known'', The Mirror-Blue Night and Left Behind with the girls and boys. This young man brings tears to your eyes with his heartfelt portrayal of this character. There is a gay relationship in the show between Hanschen and Ernst that will make you laugh as these young characters realize their attraction to each other is shown to the audience. Daniel Buckley plays Hanschen and he also has a masturbating scene in Act 1 that is hilarious. He and Ryan Goodwin are excellent as the gay characters and they sing "Word of Your Body".Other male soloists include Luke Doyle and Matt Hawley and the female soloists are Kristen McCusker, Brittney Santoro and Jessica Aspeel and the whole chorus numbers soar with high intensity, too. David Groccia, Maria Norris and Kelly Whalen play the adults in the show who are viewed as villains. So for a fantastic contemporary musical that will resonate with you, be sure to catch "Spring Awakening" at UnCommon Theatre in Foxboro. Tell them Tony sent you. To quote one of the songs it is a fucking good show!

"Spring Awakening" (21 - 24 July)
UNCOMMON THEATRE YOUNG ADULT COMPANY
@ Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA
1(508)698-3098

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |