Updated: Mar 8, 2019
★★★★★ - Irresistible
Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote, “In the Spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Only it’s not so delicate as Tennyson states. It rises up full-bore like a heat-seeking missile. But what happens when that young man and the girl he seeks have no real idea of what is happening?
You can find out as Majestic Repertory presents “Spring Awakening,” the rock musical with book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik which was based on the 1891 play of the same title by Franz Wedekind. The 2006 musical won eight Tony Awards under the direction of Michael Mayer.
Under the astute direction of Troy Heard, the Majestic production soars. Each and every piece of this puzzle is perfectly in place. It’s a tough show with some tough subject matter; it’s not only awakening sexuality that is brought to light.
The cast is headed up by Nicholas Lamb as Melchior and Callie Maxson as Wendla. They aren’t Romeo and Juliet-type star-crossed lovers, they are two teens seeking truth and love amidst a society – much like today’s – intent on keeping them in the dark.
Lamb has a beautiful tenor that fills the room with hope and vivacity and darkness and grief. This young actor takes the very soul of the character and bares it almost as if he needs you to see through the sinew and veins to the raw nerve endings. His is an incredible performance so fully rendered I dare you to walk out at the end of the play unmoved.
And he’s matched beat for beat by Maxson. When the two come together in scenes and in song, such as “Word of Your Body” and “Guilty Ones,” their portrayals and voices blend perfectly. Maxson carries her joy and then confusion and sorrow on her sleeve, we are able to see her work through the emotions, we see the gears turning as she remains always in the moment.
The characters of Moritz (Joel Ruud) and Martha (Tatum Rajsky) are especially tormented, and Ruud and Rajsky are up to the task. Both actors allow the haunted look associated with their plight under an exterior that belies their reality.
Michael Sullivan, plays all the Adult Men, and Kate Sirls renders the Adult Women. Both actors switch smoothly between roles. Each character comes across believable and separate.
The remaining ten characters are brought to life by a wonderful supporting cast of actors. Not a single one disappoints in any way. However, RJ Viray is a particular standout as he makes direct visual contact from time to time; each emotion reflected not only in stance but in his eyes.
The choreography by Jenna Szoke is fitting of a rock musical though still manages to invoke the time period of late 19th Century Germany. Movement provides an interesting, sometimes jarring, counterpoint and juxtaposition to the emotions of a number emitting the bottled-up sexual energy longing to be freed.
Yale Yeandel’s simple thrust stage is overhung with bare tree branches and softly glowing lanterns serves multiple settings. Abby Stroot’s costumes – particularly the boys – are period and detailed. And, Marcus Randolph lights it all in a mixture between harshness and soft-focus enhancing the mood of each scene.
While the production is about teenage angst the theatre offers a cautionary word: There are sexual situations, language, and brief nudity. What may surprise you is the realization that, as art imitates life, we haven’t progressed much at all as a society in these matters.
An important end note: Due to scheduling the rental cost of the microphone kit tripled for this production. The theatre is trying to raise $5,000 during the run of this show to purchase equipment. It’s a very worthy cause and I encourage you to make a donation.
When: Thursday - Saturday 8pm; Sundays 5pm through February 10
Tickets: $15 - $28 (www.majesticrepertory.com)
Producer: Majestic Repertory Theatre; Director: Troy Heard; Musical Director: Andrew Tyler; Choreography: Jenna Szoke; Lighting Design: Marcus Randolph; Scenic Design: Yale Yeandel; Costume Design: Abby Stroot; Sound Design: Kat Gonzalez; Technical Director: Joe Hammond; Stage Manager: Cory Covell