Spring Awakening is a cleanly executed and passionate piece of theatre. Performed by Fighting Chance Productions in Jericho Arts Centre, the show is a fascinating modern rock take on a dated story. Done in the round, with cedar boughs covering the ground, the small audience has an up-close experience with the actors and the talented band. Though chains of white flowers and peaceful lanterns symbolizing innocence hang from the ceiling, Spring Awakening is really about when innocence becomes ignorance.
Set in 19th century Germany, this rock musical is an ambitious venture for such a young cast. They live up to the challenge, though, tackling difficult music and emotionally driven scenes. Although not all their voices are strong, the group numbers truly are, and there are several vocal gems among the cast.
The show starts off with Wendla (Sarah Smith), a German school girl, asking her mother to explain how babies are made. While this seems like an elementary school lesson to us, her mother cannot bring herself to explain – which has dire consequences.
Eventually, we see the dangers of a society where everything is hidden and suppressed. Even though it won 8 Tony Awards and is recognized as a landmark musical, it’s easy to see why Spring Awakening is not commonly performed. Addressing rape, abuse, homosexuality, suicide, innocence and how long it can last, Fighting Chance’s version is particularly sexually explicit.
There are strong leads, and an all round talented cast, particularly the charismatic Chris Carson as Melchior, who captivated the audience as much as he did Wendla. Miles MJ McCarthy’s vocals – particularly in “Don’t Do Sadness” – were powerful, and his acting beautifully tragic. The story is heavy, and characters real, but the true highlight of Spring Awakening comes from the music – a melee of passionate rock songs (Totally Fucked, The Bitch of Living) and haunting harmonies that can bring chills down your spine. Bursting with raw emotion, Spring Awakening will touch everyone who comes to see it.
Spring Awakening runs at the Jericho Arts Centre until May 17th.
Look here for tickets and more information.