The Dark Room, Cnr Pitt and Church Street, Palmerston North

22/10/2019 - 26/10/2019

Production Details


Centrepoint Theatre’s Basement Company will be tackling a hilarious and equally heartbreaking story this month when they take to the stage to perform Spring Awakening.

Basement Company is a training programme for young performers aged 16 to 21. Members audition to spend a year at Centrepoint Theatre with the company meeting every week to gain professional level experience, which includes producing their own productions.

Spring Awakening, the play which spawned the smash hit Broadway musical of the same name,is their third and final show of 2019, and promises to be their biggest yet. 

The show follows a group of schoolchildren who, shut down by their parents and teachers, are forced to navigate teenage self-discovery and coming of age anxiety on their own with tragic consequences.  

“It’s a fresh take on a modern classic,” says director Nathan Mudge, who also worked with the company on 2018’s sell-out success The Caucasian Chalk Circle. 

Having caused riots when it premiered over a century ago, Frank Wedekind’s seminal play about youth remains sadly relevant in its exploration of sex, violence and mental health.

With New Zealand suffering from a mental health crisis and the #MeToo movement a recurring part of national conversation, the company want to use this production to share how these issues can affect young people in particular.

“One teacher encouraged their students not to see the show because of its content,” says Ryan Ngarimu, who is in his second year with the company. “That’s exactly what this show is about. It explores the dangers of teenagers being silenced and sheltered from the truth.”

Despite the show’s controversial history, Mudge promises the production will be presented tastefully and not just for shock value.

“You’ll be watching fifteen of the Manawatu’s most talented actors working their butts off on stage, tackling the play’s important themes with courage and sensitivity. You’ll laugh, cry, scream and talk all about it with your friends after.”

Spring Awakening
The Dark Room, 283 Church Street, Palmerston North
22 to 26 October 2019
Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students
BOOK at Centrepoint Theatre.
Call 06 345 5740 or visit centrepoint.co.nz.

Youth , Theatre ,

Challenging subjects and language delivered with aplomb

Review by Alexandra Bellad-Ellis 23rd Oct 2019

The transition between childhood and adulthood is difficult, especially when the adults around you have specific ideas about what you should and should not know. Spring Awakening follows two groups of school children as they leave their childhood behind and try to grasp what their future holds, and all the new feelings that have suddenly appeared. 

In the boys group we have Moritz (played by Malakai Mercado Harkett), a young man not dealing well with the pressure to succeed, while his friend Melchoir (Ryan Ngarimu) seems to have it all figured out: life, babies, philosophy, the works. Melchoir’s parents (Oliver Gillespie and Charleigh Griffiths) welcome young Moritz into their home, and treat him as part of the family. But will they stand by him when life takes an unexpected turn?

Both Malakai and Ryan play their parts beautifully and with heart, leading to some of the most profoundly intimate moments of the play. The boys group is rounded out by Hanschen (Trent Hooper) and Ernst (Kaylib McCartney) who are on their own journey of art and self-discovery. Trent does a great job with some difficult scenes and Kaylib is a good foil, giving the play a lighter feel.

The girls groups includes of Wendla (Molly Sheridan), a young women desperate to know about love and where babies come from. With a mother that never wants her to grow up (Kaiya Lloyd) she is left to cope on her own, leading to some very grown up situations. Her friends Maratha (Julia Tate-Davis) and Thea (Isabella Carnegie) are dealing with their own problems, and are not always at their friend’s side when they are needed.

Near the end of the first half we meet Ilse (Molly Herbert), a young women who has embraced life and left home to become an artist’s muse. Her descriptions of the debauched life of the artists she knows is a stark contrast to the lives our students live. It is her voice we hear right before a pivotal moment in the play, reaching out to her younger counterparts. Molly grasps this part well, embodying a young women trapped in a colourful life out of her control.

The other adults in the play are the caricatured, over the top teachers. Part serious, part clown, they start the second act with a surrealist twist to tell the audience what is going to happen to Melchoir after the events of the first half. Their names sum up the clowning nature: Bonebreaker (Oliver Gillespie, who also plays the mysterious Masked Man at the end of the play), Thickstick (Kaiya Lloyd), Flyswatter (Maddie Fletcher), Toungtwister (Jake Brider), and principal Sunstroke (Alyssa Topia) and her Igor-like sidekick Fastcrawler (Lola Lane). While funny and well done they stand in stark contrast to the darker moments that happen just before. They impart important information to the audience, and this is almost lost in the ridiculousness of the staging. 

All the actors grasp their parts with aplomb, dealing with challenging subjects and language.

Spring Awakening was written by German playwright Frank Wedekind, sometime between 1890 and 1891. This production is directed well by Nathan Mudge, bringing an older play to a new time period and audience. The raised, simple set helps alleviate the sight line problems of the Dark Room, as does having audience on both sides of the stage.

Spring Awakening is on at the Dark Room from the 22nd of October till the 26th of October, and the show lasts about 2 hours. Tickets are available through the Centrepoint website or box office. Please be aware that this play contains references to suicide, rape and other adult themes.


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