Review: 'Awakening' an eye-opener
The united efforts of The University of Illinois departments of theatre, music and dance exploded on stage Thursday in a stellar opening-night performance of the multiple-Tony Award-winning musical, "Spring Awakening."
Based on the controversial 19th century German play by Frank Wedekind, this high-voltage production explores the blossoming sexuality of a dozen adolescents who are coming of age despite little or no guidance from the adults in their lives.
Under the masterful direction of Austin Regan, the gifted ensemble members share their individual turmoil through song, expressing the volatile emotional realities of adolescence including confusion, fear, sexual identity, longing and loss.
Music director Kent Conrad and his band provide the edgy, alternative rock score with perfection, which, when combined with brilliant technical direction by Andrew Bevacqua, video and projections by John Boesche and costumes by Natalie Loveland, delivers an impressive evening of theater.
Jaclyn Hergott heads the cast as Wendla, an innocent girl who implores her mother to explain the facts of life to her after the birth of her sister's second child.
Wendla finds her answers in a hayloft thanks to Melchior Gabor (David Kaplinsky), a free-thinking boy who does more than tell her what she wants to know.
Joe Boersma plays Melchior's troubled friend Moritz, who can't handle the guilt that accompanies his erotic dreams.
Lucy Chmielewski and Adam Thatcher wear several hats as the only "adults" in the cast, providing a comic look at the failings of parenthood.
Additional ensemble members include Naomi Mark, Sara Costello, Ellen Fred, Lauren Nitto, Zachary Moyer, Christopher Terrell Brown, Sidney Germaine and Kendall Johnson.
With sensitive subject matter and adult language, this production is recommended for mature audiences only.
If you go
What: University of Illinois Department of Theatre presents "Spring Awakening," with book by Steve Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, after Frank Wedekind's late 19th-century German play; directed by Austin Regan, with music direction by Kent Conrad and choreography by Philip Johnston
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m. April 21
Where: Colwell Playhouse, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., U
Tickets: $16 for adults, $15 for senior citizens and students and $10 for UI students and youths (tickets are two for the price of one on Thursdays)
Running time: 2 hours, 12 minutes including one 20-minute intermission
Information: 333-6280; http://www.krannertcenter.com
Note: The play is recommended for mature audiences
Tricia Stiller serves as director for the McLean County Diversity Project's Theatre Program, the Miller Park Summer Theatre Program and the Penguin Project McLean County. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.