I approached “Spring Awakening” with a certain degree of anti-hype. After all, just because the show won the 2007 Tony Award for best musical doesn’t necessarily guarantee it to be up-to-snuff, as evidenced by the 2010 best musical award winner “Memphis,” which was a terrible experience on Broadway Sacramento’s stage.
The Folsom Lake College Falcon’s Eye Theatre production of “Spring Awakening” at the Harris Center for the Arts, however, is excellent.
Lead actors Elio Gutierrez and Holly Wilson, as Melchior and Wendla, expertly carry this production based on a controversial late-19th century German play about teenagers discovering their sexuality and the painful truths about abortion, child abuse and suicide. I found myself wishing they had more stage time than their leading roles allowed. Gutierrez’ rendition of “Left Behind” in Act 2 was remarkably moving and Wilson’s voice gave me chills during “Whispering.” Gutierrez also must get a nod for one of the show’s catchiest numbers “Totally Fucked.”
I left with the song firmly stuck in my head.
Chris Emery’s portrayal of Moritz was very good, particularly in the second act. His duet “Don’t do Sadness/Blue Wind” with Jennifer Morrison as Ilse was a definite highlight. In fact, all of the songs featuring Morrison were strong points in the show. Sung with Samantha O’Connor as Martha, Morrison’s vocals on “The Dark I Know Well” were hauntingly powerful. Her voice on “The Song of Purple Summer” brought an applause-worthy close to the show.
This is not to say I am without complaint, albeit a brief one.
A constant issue I find in rock musicals is that lyrics are mostly difficult to understand. However, I did not expect a “My Fair Lady” diction in this show—that would be ridiculous.
However, to enjoy the full scope of any musical, I suggest audience members familiarize themselves with the lyrics, as well as the plot, beforehand so one isn’t wondering during the show what, precisely, just happened.
This show is brilliant in design. I absolutely loved the set and the lighting. It was a treat to see the full extent of technology at the Harris Center brought to bear for this production. A highly dynamic seven-piece orchestra backed the cast’s strong vocal performances, a true pleasure.
I highly recommend catching the final opportunity to see “Spring Awakening” Sunday, April 13, at 2 p.m., inside the Harris Center for the Arts located on the Folsom Lake College campus at 10 College Parkway in Folsom.
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