- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 02 December 2016
- Written by KERRY BREEN | COPY EDITOR
Monmouth University’s Theatre Department completed a sold-out run of Duncan Shiek and Steven Sater’s Spring Awakening. The show was the first sold-out departmental show.
Based on a 1891 play by Frank Wedekind, Spring Awakening is a rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics written by Steven Sater. It is set in late 19th century Germany, where it tells the story of teenagers growing up in a strict, highly sheltered community and eventually revolting, as well as beginning to explore their own sexualities, something that they were heavily discouraged from doing previously.
The lead characters include Wendla, a naive and innocent teenage girl who has limited knowledge about the facts of adulthood. Melchior, a headstrong and rebellious young man who is more knowledgeable than most of the other teens in the community, and Moritz, a nervous young man who struggles in school and feels intense pressure to understand and succeed in the world.
The show starred Nicholas Zaccario as Melchior Gabor, Dylan DiRobbio as Wendla Bergmann, and Evan Kudish as Moritz Stiefel. Other featured roles included Julie Murtha as Ilse, Aaliyah Jordan as Martha, Amanda Siller as Thea, Kara D’Antoni as Anna, Antonio Gonzales as Hanschen, Chris Tuttle as Ernst, Patrick Hall as Georg, and Kevin Ospina as Otto. Other featured cast members, in the roles of the adult parents, were Erin Clemente as Frau Bergman, Samantha Truglio as Frau Gabor/Frau Bessel, Courtney Davis as Fraulein Knuppeldick, Katryna Cordova as Fraulein Grossebustenhaltr, Ruairi O’Neill as Doctor Von Brausepulver, and David Grossi as Schmidt. Mark Cayne also played a variety of the characters and other adult male characters. The show was rounded out by its ensemble, including Emily Townsend, Monica Flores, Deya Fuleihan, and Emily Mangivillano.
Spring Awakening is one of the best shows to have been performed at the University. The actors truly convey the emotions of the characters, and the vocals are fantastic, performing the show at a Broadway-caliber level. The show garnered numerous audience reactions at some of its more shocking moments; some of its more tragic moments brought people to tears. All in all, it is easily one of, if not the best, shows that has happened at Monmouth, and it proved that with its sold-out run, the first one in the department’s history.
The show was directed by Sheri Anderson, a specialist professor in the University’s theatre department.
“When Wedekind wrote Spring Awakening in 1891, it was a direct critique of the sexually oppressive environment… however, the prevalence of rape culture in our current society makes it clear that, while we may address such issues more openly, we have yet to do so thoroughly,” who said in her director’s note in the show’s program. “Thus, it is my hope that our production will help to remove the element of taboo and introduce more open discussion. I’ve likewise attempted to draw attention to the lack of communication and missed opportunities through the use of Brechtian-inspired staging.”
This sort of staging involves “‘alienating’ the audience, by eliminating the catharsis that comes with emotional connectedness,” according to Anderson’s note. “When one rides the wave of emotion, one loses the ability to objectively process the social message, so he [Brecht] constantly reminded the audience that they were in a false environment.”
Anderson manages this, firstly, by never having the adult characters be in the same physical space as the children. While the children are on the stage below, the adults are on the higher back wall, looking out over it. Also, when the children and adults address each other – such as Wendla talks to her mother, or Moritz to his father – both parties look out at the audience instead of facing each other. According to Anderson, this heightens the feelings of isolation and missed communications, and again makes the social message more easy to grasp and process.
The artistic staff consisted of Jeff Brown as musical director, Catherine Mancuso as choreographer, Ferdinano DelGuercio as the scenic designer, Pat Ubaldi as costume designer, David Landau as lighting designer, Devan Marota as the sound technician, Anthony Lusardd and Beachside Productions as sound reinforcement, Molly Huber as production stage manager and dramaturg, Zaccario and Kayla Mingino as assistant directors, and Chloe Meyer and Gianna DeSantis as assistant stage managers. The stage crew was rounded out with Anna Bianchi, Grace Guippone, Maya Jones, Elmedina Karpuzi, Grace McCann, Taniyah Thomas, and Freddi Lake.
The band of the show included Jeff Brown as the conductor and on the keyboard, Emma Taylor on violin, Matthew Jordan on guitar, Tamira Williams on bass, Olivia Mingino on the keyboard, and Timothy Helm as percussion.
image taken from www.monmouth.edu