BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
11/04/2018 - 21/04/2018
An electrifying and hauntingly unforgettable alt-rock rollercoaster of youth and sexual discovery.
“One of the greatest musicals of the last decade” – New York Times
Adapted from the ground-breaking German classic by Frank Wedekind, this Tony Award-winning, contemporary and electrifying alt-rock musical rollercoaster explores the troubled journey from adolescence to adulthood.
In a world where sex and passion are repressed and confusion and ignorance are capable of bringing both salvation and destruction, Spring Awakening explores the Bitch of Living for young people denied knowledge, power and autonomy. Audiences follow the anguished journey of sexual awakening with illuminating and hauntingly unforgettable poignancy in an effort to discover the beauty of living in this melancholic, complicated world.
Featuring music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater, and in a time where the #MeToo movement is holding abusers of power to account, Spring Awakening forces audiences to question their own views on love, guilt, passion, life, and the impact that their perspectives, expectations and actions have on others. Exhilarating audiences across the world, Spring Awakening is at its heart, the story of young people struggling against all odds to build a world and find a place for themselves.
Spring Awakening is licensed exclusively by Music Theatre International (Australasia). All performance materials supplied by Hal Leonard Australia.
Please note: Spring Awakening contains adult and disturbing themes and scenes including colourful language, sex, masturbation, abortion, sexual abuse, depression and suicide. Not suitable for children.
BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage
Preview Tues 10 April 2018
Weds 11 April – Sat 21 April 2018
Full Price $22
Preview ticket price $20
Concession Price $18
*On Friday the 20th, BATS Theatre and WITCH will be co-hosting a Musical Theatre Open Mic & Piano Bar after Spring Awakening (accompanist provided). Bring your sheet music or choose from our selection of songs books and sing your heart out. No matter if you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie performer, we welcome all to the stage to give it a go!
The Propeller Stage is fully wheelchair accessible; please contact the BATS Box Office by 4.30pm on the show day if you have accessibility requirements so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Director | Benjamin Emerson
Musical Director | Michael Nicholas Williams
Choreography | Manuel Solomon
Assistant Musical Director | Anna McBride
Production Manager | Jen Howes
Assistant Production Manager | Anna Rowe
Lighting Designer | Jennifer Lal
Costume Designer | Kerri Singley
Set Designer | Benjamin Emerson
Production Assistant | Lucho Arca
Marketing | WITCH
Theatre , Musical ,
2 hrs 10 mins, including interval
A musical that bursts into life in the second-half
Review by Ewen Coleman 21st Apr 2018
Turning a well-known play into a musical appears very fashionable these days, some successfully but others not so.
Fortunately Spring Awakening, based on a German play of the same name written in the late-19th-century by Frank Wedekind, and currently being performed at Bats Theatre, is one of the better ones.
Groundbreaking in its time, the play still pushes the boundaries and has many relevant themes of teenagers searching for answers as their burgeoning sexuality often sends them spiralling out of control, both physically and emotionally. [More]
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
A risque, raw reminder
Review by Jo Hodgson 13th Apr 2018
The play Frühlings Erwachen; Eine Kindertragödie or Spring Awakening; A Children’s Tragedy written by Frank Wedekind in the late 19th Century premiered in Berlin in 1906.
The play directly challenges the oppressive culture of nineteenth century Germany for a group of adolescent students negotiating their way through their tumultuous changing world into adulthood. Because of the explicit sexual content, this play was initially banned in Germany and didn’t see the light of day in England till 1963.
The musical, with book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, having been first workshopped in 1999, finally arrived Off-Broadway in March 2006 and quickly transferred to Broadway in December of the same year. By 2013, after 888 performances and scooping eight Tony Awards it had become one of the most produced musicals in the world.
Thanks to WITCH director Benjamin Emerson, Wellington is getting a chance to see this intense musical story where (this from the programme notes) “sex and passion are repressed and confusion and ignorance are capable of bringing both salvation and destruction”.
We follow the stories of Melchior (Maxwell Apse), a charismatic young man thirsting for knowledge who challenges the status quo and Wendla (Jessica Old), naive and unaware of the realities of the world she is beginning to experience. Melchior’s friend Moritz (Konrad Makisi) struggles with his studies, expectations of his family and his ever increasing confusion of his developing sexual frustrations, while other characters deal with sexual fantasies, sexual preference, and abuse.
In this era of fake news and the #metoo movement, this script is just as relevant now as it was in 1906. It embodies an important dialogue about knowledge and communication, consent and being true to ones self, proving that youth have an important voice and a special place in our society, rather than being seen and not heard and doing what they are told.
Even though these days there is more awareness, we still have far to go in many of these areas as the rate of suicide in this age group heartbreakingly shows.
The black-box of the Propeller Stage is sparsely set creating a rustic feel of a small town which could be anywhere in time and space.
The cast, dressed in vintage-esque clothing and period school uniforms, weave their magic through Jennifer Lal’s evocative lighting design. The hues of blues and purples mixed through upward focused diagonal white shards enhance the emotional mood by creating an effect that matches the confusion and lack of clarity in their search for answers.
However on opening night the actors are a little too heavily shrouded in darkness and smoke at times to see their expressions and facial features for my liking but whether they are not quite hitting their spots I’m not sure.
The ensemble work in-particular both vocally and through the slick choreography is stunning. The lush and beautifully rendered harmonies and the quality of the unified voices is often spine-tingling. I enjoy the stylistic New Zealand sound too bringing the familiarity of the subjects even closer to home. They completely commit to the story and their role requirements, which are often very intimate in their action and content.
Manuel Solomon’s choreography has a strong purposeful and contemporary feel in its movements which are cleverly interchanged between the male and female character groups to link the thoughts and feelings being experienced.
The flowing puppet-like hand movements give an impression of these turmoiled teenagers being like pawns in a society that wants to churn out citizens who toe the line and won’t challenge the status quo. They are caught between their own need for autonomy and fear of the rigid authority.
As Thea (Kree McMillan) says, “But how will we know what to do if our parents don’t tell us?”
The rich alt-rock score, with influential echo’s from Jonathan Larsen’s Rent, is realised by keyboard player and violinist Anna McBride and Tiffany Anderson, who play live over tracks created by musical director Michael Nicholas Williams.
In this text-driven piece, I struggle to hear all the lyrics in the first half because of balance issues, which being a lesser known piece to my ears is frustrating when the singers are working so brilliantly with their excellent un-amplified delivery and diction. An upright piano is used as a set piece and is played by Joseph Mara as his character Georg. It would be lovely to hear more of this acoustic sound in the accompanying mix.
Between them veteran actors Karen Anslow and Alan Palmer expertly cover all the adult roles, from clergymen to educators and parents. Dressed in more period costume with only small detail changes for each character – this further illustrates societies un-changing authoritarian and backward view, aside from Frau Gabor who is rather more forward thinking than the rest, but even she doesn’t challenge the expected response.
Some stand out scenes include the opening number ‘Mama Who Bore Me’, sung first with innocent beauty by Wendla and then followed by a gutsy female chorus.
The bittersweet duet ‘Don’t do Sadness/Blue Wind‘ between Ilse and Moritz (Cassandra Tse and Konrad Makisi) is sung with absolute conviction and perfectly stylised vocals.
Greer Samuel brings a heartrending power to ‘The Dark I know so Well’as her character Martha shares her torment.
Ben Emerson’s creative staging of the ensemble becoming the set, props, the surroundings, the dreams and nightmares, is inspired, especially illustrated in ‘The Mirror-Blue Night’where Melchior grapples with his over-powering emotions as hands that pull him in all directions, and in a magical scene at the village spring where one might start to wonder if we have dropped into The Never-Ending Story or Alice in Wonderland.
The magnetic power of the first forays into a world of intimacy in ‘The Word of your Body‘,sung by Wendla and Melchior with poignant beauty and connection, has one harking back to a time before.
Spring Awakening is an important piece of theatre – its risqué, raw, a story to open up dialogue between the different generations. An important reminder that no matter how dark things get, you are not alone.
For adults, it’s a reminder that we all go through this transition to adulthood and we can empathise, making sure we are enlightened enough to do so.
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