Producer Ken Davenport on Why He's Bringing SPRING AWAKENING Back to Broadway: 'I Always Felt the Show Left Us Too Soon'

By: Jul. 07, 2015

This morning, BWW reported the exciting news that Ken Davenport, Cody Lassen, Hunter Arnold and Deaf West Theatre (Artistic Director David J. Kurs) will produce SPRING AWAKENING, the Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 2007, for a strictly limited Broadway engagement at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 West 47th Street) with previews beginning on Tuesday, September 8 and opening night set for Sunday, September 27.

The show will run 18 weeks only, through Saturday, January 9, with no extension possible. It will be performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken English by a cast of 27.

Today, producer Ken Davenport shared his thoughts on why he decided to bring the musical back to Broadway in his latest edition of The Producer's Perspective.

With permission from Ken Davenport, BWW shares excerpts from his blog below:

Like most theatergoers out there, I was a big fan of the original production, seeing it about a dozen times. It became that show . . . you know, the one I told friends they had to see when they visited from out of town (and I was happy to volunteer to go with them). It was never what they were expecting (especially my conservative high school buddy from Oklahoma), and it always, always blew them away. "I didn't know Broadway could do that," was what I heard the most.

And I always felt like the show left us a bit too soon for a Tony Award-winning Best Musical, having closed in January, 2009 (can you say "financial crisis"?).

...That's why I was so excited when my good friend, and now Co-Producer, Cody Lassen, told me he was helping Deaf West, the innovative West Coast theater company, move their recent production of the show from a 99 seat space to the bigger Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills, in the hopes of some kind of bigger, commercial life.

Cody set me up with a ticket to the LA production, and just three weeks ago, I settled in my (very comfortable) Wallis Center seat and prepared myself for one of my favorite shows.

...For the the next two hours and fifteen minutes, I was taken on this wonderful journey, re-experiencing a show that I thought I knew so well. It was like reading a book that I had read several times before, but this time . . . it had larger print. The themes were richer. The subtleties more apparent. And I was able to experience it in a way that I had never imagined, thanks to the nuanced hand of actor-soon-to-be-sought-after-director Michael Arden (yeah, that Michael Arden, who you've had a talent crush on ever since his Bare days). And if Michael's work wasn't enough, there was Spencer Liff's choreography, which seemed to be a language of its own, communicating so much, with so little.

So I'm moving it to Broadway, as last week's leaks indicated (you try to produce a Broadway show these days without someone finding out about it!), for a limited run of 18 weeks only. Yeah, that's right, I'm doing something that hasn't been done since the Angela Lansbury Gypsy in the 70s. I'm producing a limited run commercial revival of a musical.

And no, this isn't your usual "18 weeks only until I extend it for 12 more weeks" language. I mean 18 weeks only. No marketing B.S. There is a show that's coming into the Brooks Atkinson right on our heels. Let the countdown begin.

Read more of Ken Davenport's The Producer's Perspective here

Spring Awakening, with book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, is directed by Michael Arden and choreographed by Spencer Liff.

Based on Frank Wedekind's controversial 1891 expressionist play of the same name and featuring an electrifying pop/rock score,Spring Awakening follows the lives of a group of adolescents as they navigate their journey from adolescence to adulthood in a fusion of morality, sexuality and rock & roll. An extraordinary creative team including Michael Arden and Spencer Liff has reinvented the groundbreaking musical about lost innocence and the struggles of youth in true Deaf West style.

Following its transfer from Atlantic Theatre Company to Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre, the original production of Spring Awakening was the recipient of eight 2007 Tony Awards including Best Musical; four Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical; three Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Broadway Musical; two Lucille Lortel Awards including Outstanding Musical; the Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical; and the 2007 Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical. Amidst wild critical reception for Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's "ravishing rock score," including the Tony Award for Best Score and Drama Desk Awards for Best Music and Best Lyrics, Spring Awakening launched the careers of its young actors now known for their film, television and theater work, and stunned Broadway with "something unusual and aspiring, something vital and new" (Charles Isherwood, The New York Times).

Director Michael Arden, who plays Patrick on the FX series "Anger Management," recently originated the title role in The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Paper Mill Playhouse and La Jolla Playhouse and previously appeared in Deaf West productions of Big River on Broadway and Pippin at the Mark Taper Forum. Choreographer Spencer Liff is an Emmy-nominee for his work on FOX's "So You Think You Can Dance" and choreographed the current Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

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