Spring Awakening

Written by: Claire Phillips | Entertainment Editor

Content warning: this article contains spoilers

Written in 1891 and adapted to Broadway as a rock musical in 2006, “Spring Awakening” is a story that is still relevant today. The musical goes back and forth between modern alternative rock and themes from the 19th century. The WOU Theatre Department took on this multidimensional musical and worked to create something special with it.

Every single show was ASL interpreted. There was a reason for this — the interpreters interacted with the actors, adding a unique dynamic to the production. Parts of the songs were signed by the actors themselves, which gave the story more depth and emotion, as well as accessibility.

“Spring Awakening” is not a story to be taken lightly. Topics such as suicide, sex and abortion can make the play uncomfortable for some, but it is still a crucial story to tell. Today, the main themes of the musical continue to resonate with audiences.

Jacob Fritts and Kelsey Wallace brought maximum energy to the stage as Melchior and Wendla. They captured the audience’s attention both together and apart. The dynamics of each character made the story intriguing and relatable.

Moritz, a tormented young man, was played by Frank Kern, a second-year at Western. “Spring Awakening is themed heavily around how we raise our kids today, how we teach and support them… I feel it is important to recognize the impact that my performance might have on the audience, particularly my peers… audience members see the character of Moritz through the lens of me, a transgender actor, which inherently added a level of delicacy to how I approached my portrayal of his journey,” Kern said. There wasn’t a single dry eye in the audience when Moritz passed away.

Maddux Gillett, a sophomore who played Georg, a classmate of Mortiz and piano player, said, “…Georg’s solo in ‘Touch Me’ is near and dear to my heart… it is so freeing to own the song and share that with the audience.” Gillett’s energy lit up all of Rice Auditorium. 

Lexy Bolsinger, a senior at Western and “Spring Awakening’s” assistant director and fight choreographer, said, “My favorite part was bringing Hanschen and Ernst’s story to life. As a queer person, it is an honor to share all aspects of sex education. It was beautiful to hear audience members walking out feeling seen.”

All the cast and crew worked hard to make sure every detail was in place. Whether it was intimacy, fights or dance, each choreographed move was intentional. Each song and line was clearly rehearsed many times over. The WOU Theatre Department has once again impressed audiences with its talent and will continue to do so in the future.

Contact the author at howlentertainment@wou.edu