Sensitive Issues Handled With Maturity and Style in Dramateurs SPRING AWAKENING

by Walter Bender

SPRING AWAKENING, the 2006 multi-Tony Award winning musical, has been getting a lot of action this year. There have been a number of professional and amateur productions of this rock musical adaptation of the 1891 German play of the same name, with varying results. I have seen several of these productions this year. I can say that the version currently running at Dramateurs at the Barn in Jeffersonville is the tightest production in many ways I have seen to date.

SPRING AWAKENING, for those not familiar, deals with the topic of adolescent sexuality, and how the curiosity (and lack of information) affected the characters in the play. We are introduced to Wendla (Kim Whitehill), who asks her mother to give her the information she needs to understand what she is feeling; Moritz (Jeff Hunsicker), who is tormented by dreams that keep him up all night; Melchior (Justin Damm), who has read many books and agrees to write an essay (with illustrations) to explain all; Martha (Kate Reynolds), who suffers physical and sexual abuse from her father; Ilse (Bishon Prushankin), who suffered a similar fate and was expelled from school and her home; Hanschen (Zach Reynolds) and Ernst (Scott McMaster), who explore an alternative love together; Georg (Matthew Mitlas), who fantasizes about his busty piano teacher; and Otto (Thomas Wexler), Thea (Maddi Sloan), and Anna (Brittany Adams), the other adolescents struggling with their sexuality. They are joined by various adult men and women, portrayed with great versatility by Eric Jarrell and Sandy Yozviak.

Members of the cast of SPRING AWAKENING.

Members of the cast of SPRING AWAKENING.

Director Steve DiNenno has done a great job with this production, handling sensitive issues with a soft touch and a maturity that prevents even the most intimate moments from feeling voyeuristic. Each character is solid, sincere within their characters, and the passion of the production keeps the audience from feeling uncomfortable with the material. Choreography by Tom Stumme is suggestive without going for the shock, and the music (ably co-directed by Barbara Newberry and Konnie Stark) is beautifully done.

The actors in this production are to be commended for handling difficult material very maturely. Each of the performers takes the time to help us understand their characters, and vocally allow the audience to actually hear the words as well as the emotion of each piece (not an easy task with some of the more hard-rock numbers). Congratulations to the cast and crew of Dramateurs for a fine spring evening of entertainment.

by Steven Sater, and Duncan Sheik, based on the 1891 play by Frank Wedekind
Directed by Steve DiNenno, Music co-directed by Barbara Newberry and Kinnie Stark
May 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 16, 17, 2014
Dramateurs at the Barn
Christopher Lane and Rittenhouse Blvd,
Jeffersonville PA


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