This a review of the national tour of Spring Awakening that will be at the Kennedy Center July 7-August 2.
As I was waiting in the lobby before the show, I was extremely excited. I had acquired a seat onstage, a unique trait of the musical Spring Awakening. I had already seen the show twice on Broadway, and loved it, but I was anxious to see the national touring cast. I had also never sat onstage before, so that only added to my excitement.
Now seems like as good a time as any to explain the show. Spring Awakening is a musical based on Frank Wedekind's 1890s German expressionist play about the lives of a group of rural teenagers as they enter a period of self-discovery and deal with the issues that plague their age group. The play was banned for a long time, and as such it is not extremely well-known. In the early 2000s, Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater came together to make the play into a musical. They kept most of the original plot and dialogue (though they did add and modify some plot elements) and inserted a contemporary rock score. Add in unique staging and choreography and you have a refreshing new musical that effortlessly juxtaposes old with new in a way that is relevant to every teenager.
But back to this cast. I was not disappointed at all. It seems to be a tenet of theater that everyone prefers the first cast they saw of any show, and that did hold true for me. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by Steffi D's performance as Ilse and some of the boys, like Ben Moss (Ernst), Matt Shingledecker (Georg), and Anthony Lee Medina (Otto). In addition, I was much more aware of the ensemble members because of my position on stage, and I must say that they really add to the show. They all are very talented, and I even got to see one of them, Lucas A. Wells, go on for Hanschen in one performance (his acting was superb). The rest of the cast was also outstanding, but I still preferred the cast I saw originally. The portrayal I liked the least was Blake Bashoff's Moritz. He was a good actor, but I am personally not a fan of his voice. I also have a very high opinion in my head of my first Moritz, Gerard Canonico.
There will be a few changes to the show that will be made in DC, and I am very excited to see them. Jake Epstein from Degrassi will officially be playing the lead role of Melchior starting at the Kennedy Center. Also, apparently, they are adding a countermelody to the song "Whispering" (Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater wrote it and it was used in the London production). I'm not sure how I feel about this yet, but I am eager to see how it's done.