BWW Previews: SPRING AWAKENING Brings Passion and Music to Warehouse Theatre

Friendship and puberty, past and present, angst and passion. What could be better fuel for a rock musical?

A new production of Spring Awakening, the 2007 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, opens this weekend at The Warehouse Theatre. Set in 19th century Germany, the show explores the timeless trials faced by teenagers, with book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik. The musical is based on an 1891 proto-expressionist play by Frank Wedekind that became famous for being banned.

"It's fabulous source material," says director Jenna Tamisiea.

The play - which the author subtitled A Children's Tragedy - depicts teenagers in a time of suppression, when conservative parents failed to sexually educate their children, leading to anger and confusion and even suicide. It was a time when puberty could lead to punishment.

"At that time, there wasn't even a word for adolescent," says Tamisiea. "They need guidance, and these kids don't have it."

The musical version takes that original play as its base and adds to it the heightened emotional expression of song. "These are songs that don't necessarily further the narrative," Tamisiea says. "They express feeling."

She says the music, by Duncan Sheik - who came to fame with the song "Barely Breathing" - has a very 90's alt-rock feel. "It sounds like my childhood."

Tamisiea took a very collaborative approach to the show, encouraging her actors to bring together their own ideas and experiences and memories. Rather than choregraphy, the show has grown organically, becoming almost physical theatre. "The movement has literally come from their souls," Tamisiea says. "This cast is very committed to this emotional journey."

In the end, the musical speaks universal truths about kids struggling to be heard even as they struggle with understanding their own bodies and the world around them.

"We immerse the audience into a world that is dark and overblown until the kids sing and can finally express themselves," says Tamisiea. "It's really exciting."

The cast includes Kerrie Seymour, Matt Reece, Benjamin Davis, Arik Vega, Laura Plyler, Christopher Paul Smith, Clare Ruble, Eliana Marianes, Kenzie Wynne, Parker Byun, Courtney Richmond, Kevin Ray Cohen, and Drew Whitley. The set designer is Will Lowry and Jenna Tamisiea directs.

Spring Awakening runs from May 19-June 10 at The Warehouse Theatre, 37 Augusta St in Greenville, SC's historic West End. For tickets and showtimes call 864-235-6948 or visit warehousetheatre.com.


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