Irondale Theater Center, 2019
written by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik
directed by Peter Charney
choreography by Hannah Lang
music direction by John Conover
conceived with Ali Sousa
produced by Three of Cups Theater Collective
When my collaborators and I began to plan a production of Spring Awakening, we felt it was important for this story to be told in an entirely new way to reflect the world as it is now. We looked at the music in the piece, and how music has been an outlet for love, rage, discovery, and expression, throughout all of its history. We found an inherent musicality in the show that goes far beyond how most musicals typically incorporate their songs. It felt like each character in the show was “voiced” by a different instrument, and we could take advantage of the show’s orchestration to expand upon the dramatization of each character’s journey.
The rock style of the show enters and exits the score with Moritz, so he led his own songs on the electric guitar. Wendla's musical vocabulary is led by a violin, curious and bold in her moments of discovery and a broken pizzicato when she is at her most vulnerable. Spring Awakening usually has an abrupt switch between the moments of book and score, but we wanted to allow each character the agency to move into that musical place, both diegetically and in the context of the musical theatre form. The character Martha has a song about abuse, where a Cello leads the orchestration. In our production you would see Martha’s cello offered to her, for her to then decide to accept and strike as she shares her pain through the song. Every musical moment was motivated in this way and each character had their own relationship to the world of song.
A church became a home to a jam session of actor-musicians who express themselves through playing music; with the belief that we can heal and learn and grow together through a collective experience.
Photos by Tom Lawler/Peter Charney