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BWW Feature: MASH NOTE TO SPRING AWAKENING at Virginia Repertory Theatre

BWW Feature: MASH NOTE TO SPRING AWAKENING at Virginia Repertory Theatre I love the show "Spring Awakening." The Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater musical, based on Franz Wedekind's 1891 play, ran on Broadway from late 2006 through early 2009, winning eight Tonys, including Best Play, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical.

I don't remember at what point in its Broadway run I first saw it, but I had the same experience with it that I had with "Rent": I saw it, I knew I had seen something earth-shaking, but I knew I hadn't really gotten as much out of it as I could. So I spent many hours with the original cast album, went back to see the Broadway production again, and have been a devotee ever since.

I love that Virginia Rep had the guts to produce it in 2012. I'm rarely privy to theater gossip, but I heard that it was a battle to get it done and that it didn't make much money.

I just consider myself fortunate to have been able to see it again. I loved it as much as I had in New York. I cried buckets over it before, during and after. To this day, if I need a good cry, I put on the last two songs of the album and let 'er rip. It kills me that the children in this (or any) society should die because the adults around them are too rigid to give them the help they need.

Chase Kniffen directed this with tremendous energy and empathy, on a perfect Brian Barker set lit by Lynne Hartman, with costumes by Sarah Grady. Sandy Dacus did the musical direction for the fierce rock score, and Starrene Foster did the wildly emotional choreography. Ali Thibodeau and Oliver Houser played the central characters Wendla and Melchior, with John Mincks perfectly cast as Moritz and Christie Jackson ideal as Ilse. I have clear memories of Josh Marin, Dan Cimo and Richard Chan among the excellent supporting players, and of course Susan Sanford and Daniel Moore were great playing the various adult roles.

The Richmond Theatre Critics Circle gave the Artsie for Best Musical that year to the show, along with Best Direction (Musical) to Kniffen and Best Supporting Actress (Musical) to Jackson. Well deserved, I'd say.


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From This Author Susan Haubenstock