Saturday, February 16, 2019

A few more random thoughts about Spring Awakening

I didn't want to make the actual review any longer than it is, but I had some other thoughts.

About the play:

1. I think the play would be a little more digestible to a modern English-speaking audience if Steven Sater had updated the character names. I had a hard time following who was who among the minor characters just because the old German names were so strange to me. I couldn't tell my Schnitzels from my Schatzers.
2. Some of the elements of the play seemed to come from out of nowhere. For example, the song between Moritz and Fanny Gabor -- there didn't seem to be any special relationship between them before that number. Even the conclusion seemed weird -- Melchior was about to kill himself because he has nothing left, but then Moritz's and Wendla's ghosts talked him out of it. But he's still an outcast, with not much going on in his life (unless he decides to take up with Ilse, which come to think of it, wouldn't be a bad idea.) And Saber has the character of Thea make it clear that she has a crush on Moritz, but he never does anything with that.
3. Re/Duncan Sheik's score, I want to make it clear that outside of this musical, I'm not really a huge Duncan Sheik fan. I like "Barely Breathing" like most people probably do, but that's about it. (That's what I meant, and not "Wicked Game" like O originally wrote. That was Chris Isaak. Duh!) It's not as though when I first bought the cast album for Spring Awakening, I was hugely biased in his favor. But there are some really good songs here.

About the direction:

1. The thing I was talking about re/the choice to have the supporting actors onstage when their characters weren't even part of the scene -- for example, at some points, they're just standing there as trees in the forest. At other private, intimate moments in the script, they're kind of huddled around the main characters, sometimes right up in their faces, although the actors playing the main characters who are in the scene have to pretend they don't see them. It wasn't bad -- just kind of weird.
2. Some of the sexual choices were a bridge too far for me. It's not like I've never seen an adult film in my life, but somehow seeing fully-clothed simulated sex acts in a theater full of just regular people is way more uncomfortable. I understand that the play is trying to show you how uncomfortable most of us are with sexuality. But it doesn't mean I can't be pissed about it when they shove it in our faces. The scene in act 2 where the director has the reform school boys seemingly masturbate on an unwilling Melchior was just disgusting, and not commensurate with an otherwise enjoyable night at the theater.

About the performances:

1. As I said, I liked David Thomas Cronin's performance as Moritz. But he sort of plays him as an angrier version of Flounder from Animal House. It kind of worked, though.
2. I want to emphasize just how much I liked the scene between Cronin and Emily Nash's Ilse in the second act. The actors made you really wish that these two characters could have brought some comfort to one another, and could have averted the tragedy that followed.
2. I didn't really mention the musical highlights, but there were a lot of them. "Totally Fucked" was perhaps the best song of the night, and got the best reaction from the crowd. I also really liked Ilse's "Blue Wind" and the closing number, "The Song of Purple Summer", which gives all of the characters, even the adults, a happier, more dreamlike ending. The choreography on this one and "Totally Fucked" were particularly good.

About the program:

The proofreader in me couldn't help but notice that you guys listed one of Moritz's numbers as "The Btich of Living". And don't go pointing out any spelling errors I made in this blog post. I write these things pretty stream-of-consciousness, and don't always go back and proofread myself. And if I do, even a year later, I can still fix it -- it's digital media. It's somehow worse when it's in print. (At least that's what I tell myself.)