Sunday December 17th 2017

“Spring Awakening”

Recommended***Coming of age! Over the past years, we have seen many plays that deal with this subject, one that has been around and will remain of great importance for years. “Spring Awakening” with a book and lyrics bt Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, based on the play by Frank Wedekind, now onstage at Theatre Wit takes this subject matter to new heights. This production adds “Rock and Roll” to the mix of its story about sexuality and morality, which is what many might call “the perfect mix”. Past productions have been on larger stages, in larger theaters and with much larger budgets, but Griffin Theatre Company, unafraid of challenge, has tackled the task of making this story come alive in a small, very intimate theater, with a limited set(Marianna Csaszar), minimal costumes (Izumi Inaba) and Nicole Pellegrino’s choreography ( on the small stage, she manages to use movement to full advantage of the storyline).

What truly makes this production work is the powerful talent that director Jonathan Berry has assembled ( with the aid of Elana Boulos) and their sheer energy in making each of the characters come alive. The eleven teenagers are all faced with what is going on in their bodies and minds as they face their coming of age. They have new found sexual thoughts and yet no one explains what they are feeling to them, so in most cases, they learn from each other. In this two act “rock musical” we center on several characters in particular; Melchior ( a powerful Josh Salt, who is still a student and an actor I am sure we will see much more of in our local theaters) and Wendla ( another newcomer, the lovely Aja Wiltshire), Moritz ( Northwester Student Matthew Fletcher who has a strong voice and stage presence), Ilse ( the lovely Lindsay Leopold, who has a powerful vocal range) Ernst ( Adam Molloy) and his coming of age partner Hanschen ( Adam Fane). The ensemble of teenagers is composed of Lauren Paris,Amber Robbin,Matt Babbs,Paige Collins and Harter Clingman. Seeing this much young talent in one production goes to prove just why Chicago has become THE place for actors to come! We offer them quality theater companies, rich in history and willing to try new things and audience who appreciate what they are given.

The adults in this production are handled by two very strong actors. All the adult men are played by veteran character actor Larry Baldacci, who has been seen with many of our top companies and the adult female parts by Vanessa Greenway , who with very little costume change manages to alter her characters right before our eyes. This is a hard task for both of these actors, but they are up to the challenge.

The story deals with some topics and scenes that may not be suitable for all audiences, so think about this as ypu make your theater choices; in this sho there is masturbation, some nudity, carnal knowledge, abortion and suicide. While this doesn’t sound like “a night of theatrical entertainment”, let me assure you, this is an adult theatrical experience that is both moving and educational and will bring back some memories of what you may have experienced during your teen years ( before the Internet and Sex Education in our schools).

While the score is not filled with hummable melodies or words you will sing on your way home, the music is hauntingly beautiful and well sung under the direction of Allison Kane and her four musicians. I also want to offer a “tip-of-the-hat” to fight Choreographer Joseph deBettencourt for being able to work his magic in a very limited space.

“Spring Awakening” will continue through January 8th with performances on Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets range from $28-$38 but there are student, senior and Hot Tix discounts available.

To check the schedule and order your tickets call 773-975-8150 or visit www.GriffinTheatre.com

Theatre Wit is located at 1229 West Belmont. Parking on the street is available and both Cooper’s and LaGondola ( across the street) offer parking with dinner ( both have solid menus and will get you served in time for the show). The theater also has valet parking and public transportation is readily available.

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