Melchior, played by Zachary Storey, with the cast places a white flower on an illumination of a casket on the ground. (Don Congjuico)
The Department of Theatre Arts presented it’s opening night of Spring Awakening Oct. 19 at Saddleback College’s Studio Theatre. All tickets are sold out for the rest of the shows set to happen on dates ranging from Oct. 20 to Oct. 28.
“Spring Awakening” is based on Frank Wedenkind’s play from 1892 which was amid controversy due to its graphic portrayal of social issues like sex, child abuse and suicide, among others.
This play is both vocally and musically directed by associate faculty member Daniel R. Trevino.
Having won Grammy awards and Tony awards for its acting and music, the show features music from Duncan Shiek and is based on Steven Stater’s book called “Spring Awakening.”
All shows for Spring Awakening sold out weeks before opening night.
The show at Saddleback College did not fall far from how the musical adaptation was set to be. The superb acting by the Theatre Arts students shined through and gave each character in the story credit and importance.
Given the venue of the event and with what little props the small space allowed, the total immersion of the student actors in their role made it intimate and vulnerable.
“Wedekind forces the audience to see that children cannot be sheltered from life’s hardships and dangers,” Trevino said in his note to the audience.
Given the limited seating and close proximity of the stage, it feels like the audience is let into this alternate world of the musical.
This theme bodes well to how the play should be seen through Wedekind’s eyes who, for his time, lived in a very puritanical society. This only adds to the affect of the shows performance on the audience and it definitely works.
The musical part did not disappoint too. The music was not too overbearing and fully supported, and in some parts carried a scene from being alright to great.
Although, there were times when the band was heard more than the singers. The intimacy of the show with its small area should have allowed for easier hearing with good projection but somehow this was an issue throughout the show.
Microphones were present in some of the scenes but on some of them the help it offered was minimal at best. Upbeat and loud songs like “The Bitch of Living” was easy to hear because of its nature but slow and mellow songs like “All that’s Known” was hard to hear and comprehend especially in the far corners of the Studio Theatre.
Transitions from one scene to the next were very fluid and kept up with the pace of the show.
Light mechanics also succeeded in elevating the overall experience higher and graced emotional scenes with more heart. This was most prevalent when the constant strife of a character in the play named Moritz, played by Wade Kilbarger, affected him so much that he decided to deal with it himself.
Wendla and Melchior, played by Abigail Schwartz and Zachary Storey, are the two teenagers who found love and its lustful effect.
Moritz is a confused teenager and doesn’t know how to deal with his confusion and so far Hanschen, played by Dylan David Farris, is the only one sure of what he wants in life. This fact will be present in Act 2 when “The Word of your Body” comes into the spotlight.
Energy and dedication resonates and seeps out into the audience within the Studio Theatre from these gifted students.
The work done by Wade Kilbarger as Moritz, Zachary Storey as Melchior and Abigail Schwarts as Wendla were exceptional in their portrayal of the emotions suffered by their characters. Confused seemed empathetically confusing and sadness was desolate.
Audience members sniffed at emotional scenes and laughed out loud on some.
This might be why the show already has no extra tickets to sell.
A Tony-award-winning musical brought to life by talented individuals in a studio theatre still treated with the respect it deserves … and then some.
Truly, it was not just a show. It was an experience.
Moritz, played by Wade Kilbarger, sings in one of the scenes of Spring Awakening. (Don Congjuico)
Wendla (L), played by Abigal Schwartz, Adult Woman (M), played by Lauren Graham and Adult Man (R), played by Adam Williams in one of the scenes in Spring Awakening. (Don Congjuico)
Melchior, played by Zachary Storey, and Wendla, played by Abigail Shcwartz, perform a scene in the first act of Spring Awakening (Don Congjuico)