Talking with 'Spring Awakening's' Blake Bashoff
Blake Bashoff misses having normal hair.
He's been playing the lovable, desperate, hairstyle-challenged Moritz in the hit show "Spring Awakening" for over a year, first with the Broadway company and currently with the first touring production of the show. The role of Moritz is a meaty, emotional tour de force for an actor, but it also means that Bashoff must go through not one, but two extreme hairstyles over the course of the musical's two acts. And though Bashoff loves so many things about Moritz, he probably wishes that shampoo and conditioner were invented in late nineteenth century Germany.
Mortiz's hair is just one small component of "Spring Awakening's" edgy vision. The musical, based on Frank Wedekind's hugely-controversial late eighteenth century play, focuses on a group of adolescents learning about the stickier, ickier things in life. The children deal with sex, suicide, rape, abortion and so much more while singing rocking Duncan Shiek/Steven Sater songs. And while that combination doesn't scream crossover success, "Spring Awakening" won eight Tony Awards, including one for Best Musical.
The "Spring Awakening" touring production, along with Bashoff's hair care products, is housed in Cleveland's Palace Theatre until March 15th. Bashoff spoke with BroadwayWorld about all things Mortiz, how long he plans to stay with the touring company, and just what he's going to do with his hair after he's done with the show.
What keeps Moritz fresh for you after playing him for so long?
When I joined the tour company last summer, it felt like a completely new project for me.
I had the great fortune of replacing a great actor on Broadway, and replacing an actor is a lot different than creating a character. With the tour, it felt like I was doing something from the ground up and building a whole lot of it from scratch. That was refreshing and invigorating, not to mention the fact that we had the whole creative team involved with the tour process from the get go. When I was put in the show to replace John Gallagher a few were there, but it was a whole different story with the tour. That's the biggest sense of what kept it fresh to begin with.
Now we are on the road. After doing the part so much, it feels like the kind of material that is organic and ever-changing. I'm still discovering new things in the character and growing with the part. Maybe that is because I'm human and as I grow, art grows with me. I definitely feel like I wouldn't be here unless I had something more to give or discover.
Give us an example of something you've discovered about the character recently that has informed your performance.
I've realized that Moritz is the heart and soul of the piece. I always knew that and it was a big part of the initial draw for me, but more than ever, especially in the more conservative cities on the tour, you get the sense that he is universally accepted as the endearing heart and soul of the piece. If anything, I've learned to make him more human and less of a character. He is very real and represents a lot of kids today.
You mentioned the more conservative cities on the tour. On Broadway, audiences probably had a better sense of what they were in for when they attended "Spring Awakening," but a fair amount of the audience on the tour probably has no idea what they are in for when they attend the show, which probably leads to a more varied reaction.