Review Roundup: Blank Theatre Company's SPRING AWAKENING

Review Roundup: Blank Theatre Company's SPRING AWAKENINGSPRING AWAKENING is currently on stage at Blank Theatre Company! SPRING AWAKENING features music by Duncan Sheik, book & lyrics by Steven Sater, based on the play by Frank Wedekind, orchestrations by Alan Stevens Hewitt, vocal arrangements by AnnMarie Milazzo, and string orchestrations by Simon Hale.

Leading the cast are Haley Bolithon (Hatfield & McCoy at The House Theatre) as Wendla, Jeremiah Alsop (Yank at Pride Films & Plays) as Melchior and Sam Shankman (South Pacific at Drury Lane) as Mortiz. Joining them are Blank artistic associate Claire Latourette as Ilse and co-artistic director Dustin Rothbart (The History Boys at Eclectic Theatre) as Georg. Rounding out the cast are Bryce Ancil as Otto, Adam Ross Brody as Ernst, Molly Coleman (High Fidelity at Refuge Theatre Project) as Anna, Chase Heinemann (A New Brain at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre) as Hanschen, Cari Meixner (The View Upstairs at Circle Theatre) as Martha, Lisa Savegnago (Fuddy Meers at Eclectic Theatre) as The Adult Women, Tiffany T. Taylor as Thea and Mike Weaver (Legally Blonde at Big Noise Theatre) as The Adult Men. Jonah Cochin and Kristina Plumb will serve as swings for the production.

Co-artistic director Danny Kapinos wdirects with musical direction by Tyler Miles and choreography by Britta Lynn Schlicht. The design team includes Richard Eisloeffel (Set Design), Shelbi Arndt (Lighting Design) David Lundholm (Costume Curator), Zak Payne (Intimacy Direction) and Brian Plocharczyk (Fight Direction).

SPRING AWAKENING is a contemporary rock musical based on the classic German play by Frank Wedekind, following the struggles of German teenagers in the 1890's trying to find their voices in a socially conservative world.

SPRING AWAKENING runs through Septemebr 30th at the Frontier, 1106 W Thorndale Ave, in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. Additional information is available at blanktheatrecompany.com.

Let's see what the critics have to say!

Quinn Rigg, Chicago Land MT: Unfortunately, as with the choreography, the direction begins to blur and flatten whenever there are more than three bodies onstage. The pace of the show quickens to a manic pace in group dialogue scenes, blurring dialogue as lines are said over one another, leaving no time for the audience to digest the information they are given.

Sophia Vitello, Chicago Theatre Review: Intimacy and violence were staged thoughtfully and tastefully by Zak Payne and Brian Plocharczyk. In a show where the line between "too much" and "too little" is VERY, VERY FINE, the violence and sexual content onstage never appeared unsafe or too delicate. The emotional content of the scenes remained intact while not exploiting the bodies of the performers. Choreography, supplied by Britta Lynn Schlicht, infused folk dancing with contemporary dance to create movement that was validated by the circumstances of the characters. In an environment where the characters were emotionally and physically restricted, Schlicht was smart in not having them leap and pirouette across the stage. Instead, they had beautiful gestures and aggravated gyrations.

Alexis Bugajski, Picture This Post: Blank Theatre's production of SPRING AWAKENING is a good fit for anyone who loves the musical and wants to experience it in an intimate setting. It's also a good pick for those who like contemporary and rock musicals in general. It might not be the best fit for those who aren't a fan of teenage moodiness or prefer classical musicals.

Kelsey McGrath, Perform Ink: The design and choreography are phenomenal. Despite having minimal set, this production fills The Frontier with energy. The design elements carry that much more weight coupled with a stark white playing space. It's super cool and surprising to see a brand new company knock a musical like SPRING AWAKENING out of the park with no noticeable technical snafus. Kudos to lighting designer Shelbi Arndt, costume designer Nina Wallarafen, and music director Tyler Miles. I was also really stoked that this production has both a fight choreographer and intimacy designer: Brian Plocharczyk and Zack Payne. It's refreshing to see new companies engage in Not In Our House standards and prioritization.

Sean Margaret Wagner, Windy City Media Group: The production is most powerful with a stage full of tightly packed singers weaving in and out of formations, evoking churches and school rooms. There's such an appreciation for actors with eclectic vocal qualities, with everyone taking the spotlight briefly. Adam Brody and Chase Heinemann get an equal parts sweet and snide moment as Ernst and Hanschen, who responds to Ernst's love confession with a proud "and so you should." Cari Meixner can't hide as Martha, desperate to have her abuse go unnoticed, and Claire Latourette is a beacon of a free spirit as Ilse, luring her friends away from sadness. As Moritz, Sam Shankman channels worry like a peak-anxiety Ben Folds, and as Wendla and Melchior, Haley Bolithon and Jeremiah Alsop teach a guileless ingenue masterclass so inviting, you might forget to be jaded going forward.

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