This year I’ve seen two local productions of Spring Awakening, the Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater Broadway musical based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 stage play. I know there was a Citadel Young Company production last year, but I didn’t see that. I haven’t seen or read the original play, but I’m going to get the script from our library and read it. I saw the Strathcona Alumni Company production at the Fringe festival, and then the Grant MacEwan Theatre Arts production in early November directed by Jim Guedo.
It’s interesting, seeing two productions so close together and comparing them. The sets, staging, and dance moves were very similar. One thing that’s bothered me since encountering the play for the first time at the Fringe was how much the story seemed focused on the two main male characters, Melchior and Moritz, rather than the main female character, Wendla. But after seeing the MacEwan production, I had a more balanced impression. I don’t know if it was because the actor playing Wendla in the MacEwan production, Kayla Nickel, was stronger, or whether there were some directorial choices involved, but I was more comfortable with that aspect of the MacEwan production.
When I first saw the Fringe production, not knowing the story ahead of time, I felt like parts of it dragged a bit. This second viewing was at an advantage for me, then, because this time around it felt like a stark compelling series of events rushing to some awful conclusions. And I was better able to take in some nuances, because I wasn’t quite as busy being shocked. For example, in the scene about disclosure of child abuse I hadn’t noticed before that the abuse-victim and the abuse-survivor finish the song together in a way that feels like support and solidarity, the only possible way to make that bit at least somewhat hopeful.
I didn’t find the Moritz character quite as likeable in the MacEwan production as I did in the Strathcona Alumni one, but I don’t know why.