Presented by Tomosuru Players
Directed by Gerald Williams
Where: PAL Studio Theatre, 581 Cardero St., Vancouver, BC, Canada
When: Feb. 7-19, 2017
Description: Spring Awakening depicts a dozen young people making their way through the thrilling, complicated and mysterious time of sexual awakening.
Spring Awakening, the Musical, was critically acclaimed (winning a Tony for Best Musical) and had a lot of hype when it premiered in 2006. This is an intimate, acoustic production of the show with a quadruple threat ensemble of musicians, actors, singers, dancers.
It seemed like a tight-knit cast and there's a lot of young talent here. Many of the cast played instruments and it felt like a true ensemble with how supportive everyone was for each other. The cast take risks and are vulnerable with each other and to us. This along with the intimacy of this production helped make us feel what the characters were feeling whether it was lust, hope, or oppression. The production utilizes no microphones; it adds so much warmth to hear everyone's natural voices.
Spring Awakening, for anyone unfamiliar with the musical or the original 1890's classic play, is about the sexual awakening of youth and the oppression of adults towards them. The musical's script is very faithful to its source material. The 1890's classic is the original teen issues play and its mature content is not for everyone. It contains teen suicide, teen pregnancy, abortion, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, bullying, and more. Very few adults in the show are not oppressive or abusive. Tim Howe, playing multiple adult characters, is physically imposing and is particularly striking with his stillness. He and Veronica Bonderud provide some much needed levity in their scenes as head masters (and as a piano teacher).
The script could benefit from more humour and greater development of the issues within the show. Its protagonist is not vulnerable or sympathetic until the end so it can be a challenge to relate and connect to Melchior, as written. Luckily, Wendla and Moritz are more sympathetic from the beginning. A happy ending seems tacked on as it isn't realistic or motivated and feels designed to send the audience home happy (which I'm grateful for).
This was my first time at the PAL Studio Theatre and it's a nice space. I find it curious that many of our newest theatre's such as Studio 1398, the PAL Theatre, and the Anvil Centre Theatre are not more conveniently placed on the ground floor with their own entrance though.
There's a lot to like from this unique production of Spring Awakening. I look forward to future productions from Tomosuru, including their production of Cabaret. They are a welcome addition to Vancouver's theatre community.