Spring Awakening ‘powerful, educational, moving’

Bradie Gray

I remember very vividly being in the 7th grade and going through my older brother’s iTunes library on our family’s shared computer.

Him being the “theatre nerd” he was – and still claims to be – he had the best Broadway soundtracks, everything from “The Music Man” to “Aida.”

This was where I stumbled upon a song called “Totally Fucked” from some “Spring Awakening” I’d never heard of.

Being the curious pubescent teen I was, I gave it a listen.

Before I knew it, I had heard the whole soundtrack and watched the entire Broadway adaptation on YouTube (back when you could illegally post entire copyrighted Broadway shows in parts one through 10 without YouTube batting an eye) before dinnertime.

The cautionary tale spoke volumes to my teen heart.

The show deals with the struggles of growing up through tragic stories of rape, child abuse, homosexuality, suicide and abortion in 19th century Germany.

Walking into the Performance Center Wednesday night, I felt 13 again.

I had very high expectations for the cast after spending my early teen years swooning over the original Broadway clan, and they did not disappoint.

Cody Parker oozed the confidence and intelligence Melchior possesses.

Nick Smith, who played arguably the most complex, darkest character of the production, was incredibly believable. It was difficult to tell if Smith was really as anxious as Moritz or if he was just seamlessly delivering the role.

Presley Roy, no stranger to USI theatre, conveyed the innocence of the unknowing Wendla Bergmann with grace.

The only problem was sound.

It seemed as though the cast had some microphone issues, especially during some of the scenes where one cast member was singing a solo on top of the chorus singing behind them.

The cast delivered powerful songs and dance numbers clad in their best adaptation of late 19th century German clothing: flowing dresses, stockings and schoolboy uniforms.

The juxtaposition of a broken, wooden playground in front of modern, metallic stage rigging severed not only as a multifaceted set, but a multidimensional metaphor. The constant visual representation of the children’s lost innocence and shattered youth set against the shiny, new, strong inner sense of self wasn’t present in the original Broadway production.

I was amazed by the complexity of each dance routine with the little space the stage allowed, another brilliant change from the Broadway show.

The cast used the space to their advantage.

During “Totally Fucked,” the number that got the biggest reaction out of the audience, the cast ran in and out of the tunnels leading to the stage. They ran full-speed to the stage to sing the chorus and ran out at the same speed, then back in to end the song with a chorus of “blah blah blah’s” that made me, as an audience member, feel that I was “totally fucked” as well.

The production was powerful, educational and moving.

“All that’s known” is that you should’ve gone to see it.