Broadway At The Beck: Spring Awakening, Featuring Baldwin-Wallace College

In a world of 3D movies and Youtube at your fingertips, why go to the theatre? If you’re unsure, the Beck Center’s production of Spring Awakening will remind you. Thanks to the Beck’s brilliant collaboration with Baldwin-Wallace College’s nationally recognized Music Theatre program, this powerhouse of a production will spin you around emotionally, and be there to catch your fall. This is a revolutionary musical with the artistic team to match.

Spring Awakening is based on a 19th century German play of a similar name-Spring’s Awakening. But this rock musical can hardly be called a period piece. Sure, it’s clearly provincial Germany; girls romanticize marriage (but still believe in the stork), while boys are equally imprisoned in their ignorance despite the rigor of their schooling. But with punk-rock jumping and spiked hair, the teenagers of this story fight to find their voices, navigating their own angst amongst a sexually and emotionally repressive world- one very different from today’s, and yet, at times, frighteningly similar.

Spring Awakening is a musical that was ground-breaking when it hit Broadway in 2006- both in content and in style. Victoria Bussert, the acclaimed director of Music Theatre at B-W, honors the production’s themes of self-discovery and resilience, but turns the production down even more new avenues that will surprise and awaken you. Bussert and choreographer, Gregory Daniels, masterfully take advantage of the intimate Beck Center space, giving the audience an experience that you just can’t get with a Broadway tour. Lucky for Cleveland audiences however, the talent on stage is of that same caliber!

The lifeblood of this production truly is the honesty and energy of the Baldwin-Wallace Music Theatre students themselves, who bear their souls and spread their chutzpah all over that stage each night. Ranging from gritty to delicate, the emotional range of the ensemble is sturdy backbone for the story. But it’s the principals Zach Adkins, Kyra Kennedy, Andrea Leach and James Penca that drive the piece with a level of freshness that connects to every seat in the house. Equity actors, Laura Perotta and Scott Plate, play the all of the adult roles in the show- and are clearly having the time of their lives with the opportunity to play with these skilled other performers.

No production element is remiss; Alison Garrigan’s costume design is an evocative blend of eras with so many playful touches to notice throughout the show. The lighting and set design by Jeff Herrmann are both clean, sharp and clever- but just like in Bussert’s direction, there are surprises I wouldn’t dare spoil- you’ll be so glad to experience it for yourself.

My only big complaint? Half of the theatre was empty on Sunday afternoon! Everyone who actually was there couldn’t stop raving about it afterwards- I don’t give out standing ovations haphazardly, but this production deserves it. It’s fun but important; poignant and powerful; heart-breaking and heart-warming. Once word of mouth gets around, my suspicion is that you’ll want to get your tickets as soon as possible!

In collaboration with Baldwin-Wallace College Music Theatre Program, the Beck Center for the Arts presents the Tony Award-winning rock musical, Spring Awakening, February 3 through March 4, 2012 on the Mackey Main Stage. Show times are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are now on sale.

Based on the controversial 19th century German play by Frank Wedekind, Spring Awakening explores with passion and poignancy the turbulent journey from adolescence to adulthood. This landmark musical swept the 2007 Tony Awards winning eight out of its eleven nominations, including Best Musical and Best Score. Spring Awakening is an exhilarating mix of morality, sexuality, and rock & roll including hard-hitting songs like “Momma Who Bore Me,” “My Junk,” and “The B**** of Living.”

This production includes adult language and nudity and is recommended for mature audiences ages 17 and older.

Tickets are $28 for adults and $25 for seniors (65 and older). An additional $3 service fee per ticket is applied at the time of purchase. A special discount rate of $15 is available to students with valid I.D. (use promo code “MAMA”). Group discounts are available for parties of four or more. Purchase tickets online atwww.beckcenter.org  or call Customer Service at 216.521.2540, x10.

Beck Center is located at 17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood, just ten minutes west of downtown Cleveland. Free onsite parking.

This production of Spring Awakening is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI) and is sponsored by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and the Ohio Arts Council.

Lauren Fraley

Lauren Joy Fraley is a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University where she studied Theatre and Arts Management. After working for the Children's Theatre of Charlotte, NC and touring with CLIMB Theatre based out of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, she is now working in the Community Engagement and Education Department at PlayhouseSquare and has returned to living in Lakewood where she grew up.

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Volume 8, Issue 3, Posted 9:45 PM, 02.07.2012