Saturday, 18 August 2018

 

Spring Awakening at Stockwell Playhouse


After 13 The Musical last year at the Ambassadors Theatre and Bring It On the musical, which is currently playing at Southwark Playhouse, the British Theatre Academy is on an absolute roll as they've also brought provocative coming-of-age musical Spring Awakening to London audiences for a limited run at the Stockwell Playhouse.

In Germany at the turn of the 20th century, a group of teenagers are on the cusp of adulthood, curious about sexuality in a repressed society. Without the information and clarity today's teens (hopefully) have available to them, it's up to Melchior, Wendla, Moritz and the others to figure things out for themselves... with terrible consequences.

This is a musical which doesn't shy away from difficult subject matter such as abuse, suicide and sexuality. And combined with the very childlike naivety of the characters at the heart of the story, it has created a heart-wrenching and raw portrayal of growing up in a far more close-minded time. One where children shouldn't ask questions, and they have no voice or rights to make their own decisions

Spring Awakening is one of my all-time favourite musicals. The book (based on Frank Wedekin's 1891 play) and lyrics by Steven Sater and the rock music by Duncan Sheik are catchy and iconic, not in the least for making the likes of Lea Michele, Jonathan Groff, Skylar Astin and John Gallagher Jr. musical theatre super stars back in 2006.

I sadly missed the short-lived West End rendition and so have seen a variety of UK tours and fringe productions throughout the years instead to get my fix. Some were surprisingly amazing (especially the 2011 Sell a Door rendition with Victoria Serra and Jonathan Eio), others... not so much. The BTA version of Spring Awakening currently playing at Stockwell Playhouse in South London falls somewhere in the middle as an average production with a few stand out moments.

What I love about the BTA is that they are giving a platform to young performers to showcase their talents in a real theatre in front of a large audience. It's an amazing opportunity and I feel privileged to have the chance to see these people on stage before they (hopefully) one day make it big.

But whereas I was wow-ed by the talent in both 13 The Musical and Bring It On, while the acting in Spring Awakening was mostly beautiful and even exceptionally moving at times some of the choices into a more comical tone felt jarring and out of place. And the vocals too, were not quite on par. The wavering tones were a bit of a let down when it came to the what were supposed to be impressive rock tunes by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik.

There were a few memorable exceptions and the musical really came into its own during the bigger numbers where the ensemble had a voice too. Powerful fan favourite Totally Fucked and the haunting Purple Summer were especially mesmering in both vocals and staging. These were the moments where this production really shone and touched my heart, I only wish they hadn't been so fleeting. 

Spring Awakening will always be a show I'll seek out whenever a new production is on. If you've not seen this incredible musical on stage before, then I recommend you catch it at Stockwell Playhouse before it's too late – if only to have the opportunity to listen to a live rendition of the fantastic score – as everyone should see it at least once. However, if you've been to a great production already, then give this one a miss and wait for the next, hopefully better, rendition of Spring Awakening to hit London again in the future.



Spring Awakening is playing at Stockwell Playhouse until 18 Augustus 2018. Book your tickets here.

🎵 Listening to: Spring Awakening – Totally Fucked


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