I had the pleasure of attending the opening performance of Spring Awakening. While slow to start, the show showcased some of the immense talent found on campus. Each voice was more unique than the last, but unfortunately some of the singing was overpowered by the loud music.
This performance really gained its footing with “Totally Fucked.” A song that certainly resonated with many people in the audience. All familiar with that feeling of being “totally f**ked.” Here, the cast became a unified body. It felt almost as if the entire show had been building to that moment. The cast seemed most comfortable and the audience reached a point where it truly mattered what happened in the end.
Jordon Dong shone, and dare I say it, was reminiscent of Lea Michele, as Wendla. She brought a particular youthfulness to the role that was necessary. As a character that is easy to over sexualize, Ms. Dong was able to portray Wendla’s curiosity and excitement for life in way that made the audience know that this girl was a child.
Melchior was embodied by the brilliant Matthew Meyers. Meyers had two particularly poignant scenes. The first was when Wendla asked Melchior to help her feel (I apologize for the vagueness, but I promise you, the surprise of what this scene is comprised of is worth it). In this scene Melchior is exposed to an anger within himself that he very clearly never previously knew existed. Meyers’ face, as it changed from rage to horror, expressed the entire spectrum of emotion in just a few short seconds. Meyers did something that many Broadway actors struggle with perfectly. The second was as Melchior said goodbye to his friend Moritz in “Left Behind.” This soulful song showed both the depth of friendship and the pain of parenthood.
Jordan Halsey stole the show as Hanschen. His character memorably masturbated on stage in what was arguably one of the funniest moments of the show. Mr. Halsey fully “went for it” and made something that could easily be uncomfortable simply something that had to happen. It almost felt as if Halsey was letting the audience in on a secret and that we are all now trusted secret keepers.
The entire cast did a wonderful job, especially given that it was the first performance, and all deserve note! Jake Flum was a practically flawless Moritz and handled his emotional distress in the best way possible. Izzy Smelkinson did a lovely job as Ilse and I only wish she had been highlighted more in the first act. Grant Saunders and Robin Weiner both did commendable jobs as Adult Man and Adult Women, respectively. Their ability to switch character at the change of a hat or shawl was magical. Stephanie Wilson’s Martha stood out from the rest, especially when she “let down her hair.” Special credit is also due to the wonderful supporting cast of Sam Baum, Kyle McAdam, Christine Miyashiro, Claxton Rabb, and Carly Thaw.
Congratulations to the entire cast and crew of Spring Awakening for putting on what was a particularly enjoyable production! Tickets can still be purchased for the Saturday evening performance.
Image Credit: Brian Collier