Last week, the UCM Department of Theatre and Dance presented “Spring Awakening,” a musical adaptation of the original 1891 play by Frank Wedekind.
The story takes place in 19th century Germany, but the contemporary musical incorporates alternative rock music, putting a modern spin on the show.
Cast members highlighted the show’s overall modernity as well as the characters’ individualities by coloring their hair bright pinks, blues and oranges. Although the styles were a little Seussian, they were a fun twist.
Actor Daniel Parman said the most fun part of the show was the music.
“These songs allowed the cast members to go all out and literally rock out on stage without a care in the world,” he said.
Vocally, the UCM cast was on point – Kelsey Reinsfelder and the ladies rocked “Mama Who Bore Me,” and Arthur Clifford broke hearts with “Don’t Do Sadness.”
“Spring Awakening” explores adolescent sexuality and self-discovery – focusing mainly on sexual ignorance.
When Wendla, a young adolescent girl played by Reinsfelder, asks her mother where babies come from, her mother, played by Brooke Myers, omits crucial details, telling Wendla that a woman becomes pregnant only when she loves her husband.
When Wendla falls for the young and radical Melchior, played by Daniel Parman, these misconceptions of love and sex result in some heavy consequences.
Reinsfelder and Parman performed some difficult and intimate scenes together. The couple handled the scenes with grace while also revealing the awkward tension of a first sexual experience.
“I have worked with Daniel in the past numerous times, and I trust him so much,” Reinsfelder said. “The trust and respect I have for him made this scene a whole lot easier.”
Parman had similar feelings about the scenes.
“One thing you have to have is complete trust with your fellow actors,” he said. “You do not want to put your fellow actors at risk of embarrassment or injury. It is your job to make sure they are in a safe environment.”
It is clear that “Spring Awakening” seeks to explore the confusion and excitement that surround adolescent sexuality. It also addresses issues of adolescent abuse and suicide.
Clifford did a phenomenal job of playing young Moritz, a boy who succumbed to the pressures of adolescence, while Zac Craft, who played Moritz’s father, captured the raw emotion of a parent experiencing the loss of a child.
Nellie Maple and Taylor Jennings played two young women, Martha and Ilse respectively, who experience physical and sexual abuse from a parent. Both actresses did an amazing job of uncovering the silent pain of abuse victims.
“Spring Awakening” sends some strong, controversial messages. Reinsfelder and Parman agree.
“Generally, as a society, we ignore a lot of the messages that are brought up in this show,” Reinsfelder said. “I think it is thrilling to bring these conversations up to our audience members and see what they do with it.”
“Spring Awakening” reminds us that these issues of sexual ignorance, abuse and suicide are still prevalent in our society today. Hopefully, the UCM production has sparked some conversation on campus.
“We cannot grow as individuals,” Parman said, “unless we expose ourselves to experiences that we love, hate, or make us feel uncomfortable. We wanted the audience to have an experience that they wouldn’t forget.”
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Not only did the songs give me goosebumps, but the UCM cast exposed a certain vulnerability that allowed them to convey tender moments of self-doubt, self-love and self-discovery.
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