A racy morality play without musical interludes graces the stage at Toronto’s Young Centre for the Performing Arts
Spring Awakening is a great choice for a collegiate theatre program production; most of the young people thinking mostly about success at school, sex, and growing up get to play… young people thinking mostly about success at school, sex, and growing up. For sure the text requires them to dig in a little, but it’s typically forgiving.
It’s useful to know that this is not the musical version of Spring Awakening recently popularized on Broadway with music by Duncan Sheik (of the late-90s emo hit Barely Breathing) and choreography by Bill T. Jones (who, with partner Arnie Zane, was responsible for some of the great erotic/homoerotic modern dance of the late 20th century). Rather, this is the play in a version of its original form, a slightly modernized translation by contemporary author Jonathan Franzen. Therefore – very little singing and dancing in this three-hour variation on the morality play.
It feels a little unfair to give a full review to a student production, though the students hope to be professionals someday. Overall, I have to say, this production had some good moments but dragged quite a bit through the middle. One bright spot for me was the performance of Scott Farley as Moritz Steifel, who really found the complications of his character. I very much appreciated his ability to let the audience see his various turns, and Farley’s considerable talents are well-showcased here. Director Diana Leblanc also made good use of Gabrielle Colavecchio as Mrs. Gabor, who cannot bring herself to believe anything bad of her son or his friend, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I cannot really say I felt all the other players were able to demonstrate convincing depth of feeling the play needs to sustain its various turmoils, which this long piece requires.
In terms of pacing, though, only a portion of the issues I saw were in the direction; an additional responsibility falls on the play, which is long for a morality play. Especially in 2013, when we are perhaps not quite so titillated by certain facts and ocurrances than we might have been when the play was written in 1890. It certainly makes a good case for comprehensive sex education, though, as the teenaged protagonists suffer an assortment of emotional and physical harms from their burgeoning sexuality.
A solid effort from student actors here, I think, if perhaps not exceptional.
- Spring Awakening is playing at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, (50 Tankhouse Lane)
- Performances on 12, 13, 16, 18, and 20 April at 7:30pm, with matinees on the 12th (12:30) and the 13th (1:30)
- Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $12.00 for seniors, George Brown staff & alumni: and $7.00 for students
- Tickets are available at the box office, by phone at 416-866-8666, and online.