Company/Presented by: Monash Uni Student Theatre and Monash University Academy of Performing Arts
Venue: Alexander Theatre, Monash University, Clayton
Thursday October 6, 2011
I’ve just arrived home from seeing MUST’s production of Spring Awakening. I’m feeling shattered, challenged, hopeful, uplifted, shocked and thrilled. Why? Because I’ve just witnessed a student production that bears all the hallmarks of a professional production, and a cast that holds a maturity that belies their true ages.
Spring Awakening is a powerful piece of musical theatre. Based on the original play by Frank Wedekind, with book and lyrics by Steve Sater and music by Duncan Shiek, Spring Awakening deals with issues that today’s teenagers face, yet places them in Germany during the early 20th century. Without totally spoiling the show (if you haven’t seen it), many “taboo” topics are explored including sexual awakening, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, the role of authority, and teen suicide.
MUST’s production of Spring Awakening is tragically beautiful and affecting. The entire cast is strong – there is not one weak performer. All of them sing, dance and act with such raw emotion that it is impossible not to get caught up. The humour and pathos of the first act tickle the audience, before we are slapped with some very harsh realities. Director Yvonne Virsik and choreographer Kristen Adriaan have created a piece that is seemless, shifting from one scene to the next with deft slight of hand and clever use of people and props. And it’s this cleverness that carries the whole piece along. There are moments in the first act that seem a little slow, but this is a minor quibble. Act two rockets along at great speed, and when the end comes, you are left with your heart in your mouth.
To point out individual members of the cast is difficult, simply because they are all so good, but I must make mention of James Cerche who plays Moritz. His interpretation of the role is at one moment hilarious and at the next dark and compelling. Jem Nicolas as Wendia is able to translate the emotions of the her character vividly in her expressions. Without saying a word, we know how she is feeling because of what we see on her face. Joel Horwood has the lead role of Melchior and handles the part with professionalism and strength, however I would have liked to see him embrace the raw emotion of the character, particularly in the last 15 minutes of the piece. A quick shout out to Lauren O’Dwyer who plays Frau Gabor and Frauline Knuppeldick – two very contrasting characters – with skill, humour and strength.
The singing from the cast is first rate, and the harmonies are perfect. There are moments when the music seems too loud for the vocalists and we lose some of the words they are singing, (again, this is a minor point as the band are tight and punchy). The lighting is clever and appropriate, and the whole performance is empassioned. Several scenes live long in the memory including the riotous masturbation scene, the raucous “Everything’s F**ked”, Moritz’s final scene with Ilse, and a good deal of Act Two.
To all the cast and crew of MUST’s Spring Awakening, bravo. Bravo. If you haven’t seen it yet – there are two shows left. Do yourself a favour; call the number, book a ticket, and see the show. And yes, it really is that good.
Until 8th of October, 2011
monash.edu/m apa (ph) 9905 1111
Photo by: Sarah Walker