Spring Awakening – It Really Is That Good!

Company/Presented by: Monash Uni Student Theatre and Monash University Academy of Performing Arts
Venue: Alexander Theatre, Monash University, Clayton 

Thursday October 6, 2011

Spring Awakening
I’ve just arrived home from seeing MUST’s production of Spring Awakening. I’m feeling shattered, challenged, hopeful, uplifted, shocked and thrilled. Why? Because I’ve just witnessed a student production that bears all the hallmarks of a professional production, and a cast that holds a maturity that belies their true ages.

Spring Awakening is a powerful piece of musical theatre. Based on the original play by Frank Wedekind, with book and lyrics by Steve Sater and music by Duncan Shiek, Spring Awakening deals with issues that today’s teenagers face, yet places them in Germany during the early 20th century. Without totally spoiling the show (if you haven’t seen it), many “taboo” topics are explored including sexual awakening, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, the role of authority, and teen suicide.

MUST’s production of Spring Awakening is tragically beautiful and affecting. The entire cast is strong – there is not one weak performer. All of them sing, dance and act with such raw emotion that it is impossible not to get caught up. The humour and pathos of the first act tickle the audience, before we are slapped with some very harsh realities. Director Yvonne Virsik and choreographer Kristen Adriaan have created a piece that is seemless, shifting from one scene to the next with deft slight of hand and clever use of people and props.  And it’s this cleverness that carries the whole piece along. There are moments in the first act that seem a little slow, but this is a minor quibble. Act two rockets along at great speed, and when the end comes, you are left with your heart in your mouth.

To point out individual members of the cast is difficult, simply because they are all so good, but I must make mention of James Cerche who plays Moritz. His interpretation of the role is at one moment hilarious and at the next dark and compelling. Jem Nicolas as Wendia is able to translate the emotions of the her character vividly in her expressions. Without saying a word, we know how she is feeling because of what we see on her face. Joel Horwood has the lead role of Melchior and handles the part with professionalism and strength, however I would have liked to see him embrace the raw emotion of the character, particularly in the last 15 minutes of the piece. A quick shout out to Lauren O’Dwyer who plays Frau Gabor and Frauline Knuppeldick – two very contrasting characters – with skill, humour and strength.

The singing from the cast is first rate, and the harmonies are perfect. There are moments when the music seems too loud for the vocalists and we lose some of the words they are singing, (again, this is a minor point as the band are tight and punchy). The lighting is clever and appropriate, and the whole performance is empassioned. Several scenes live long in the memory including the riotous masturbation scene, the raucous “Everything’s F**ked”, Moritz’s final scene with Ilse, and a good deal of Act Two.

To all the cast and crew of MUST’s Spring Awakening, bravo. Bravo. If you haven’t seen it yet – there are two shows left. Do yourself a favour; call the number, book a ticket, and see the show. And yes, it really is that good.

Until 8th of October, 2011
Booking Information:
monash.edu/m apa   (ph) 9905 1111

Photo by: Sarah Walker

Drew Lane

Andrew “Drew” Lane was born in Melbourne, and began playing piano at the age of four. At age 15, he began to write his own material, and was also introduced to musical theatre via shows such as Starlight Express, Les Miserables and Time. From that moment on, Drew was actively involved in musical theatre at a rehearsal pianist, musical director, or on stage performer. In 1992, Drew composed his first musical for high school, Back Streets, and in 1994, Drew was accepted into the Ballarat Academy of Performing Arts, where he honed his skills, not only as a composer, but also as a performer. Gaining valuable experience on stage and behind the scenes helped him to realise his next musical, Atlantis. A workshop production was staged for the Ballarat Opera Festival in 1996 and gained rave reviews. In the following years, Drew took up teaching but was also able to regularly composer and stage his own productions including Eva’s Wish (1997, Anacortes, WA, USA), Revelations (1998, Touring, Victoria, Australia), and Toys (1999, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia). In 2010, Drew's musical Marking Life was chosen to be part of the Festival of Broadway, hosted by the University of Tasmania, and was performed for Steven Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin). A prolific composer, Drew hopes to be able to take his musicals to Off-Broadway or the West End, and believes that his best writing is yet to come. He is presently completing his Master’s degree in Performing Arts, and has several new musicals presently in development. Drew is proud to be a regular contributor to AussieTheatre.com and looks forward to hearing from all of his readers!

Drew Lane

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *