The Slippery Rock Theatre Department will bring Frank Wedekind’s “Spring Awakening” to campus this weekend, which will examine love, sexuality and self-discovery.
The musical takes place in 19th century Germany and tells the story of teenagers who are trying to discover their inner and outer sexuality, all while trying to live a typical teenage life.
Director David Skeele said the musical is different from other works that he has directed because he’s not used to directing musicals. He said “Spring Awakening” is a revolutionary musical because the music is used in a different way than most musicals use music. He said in this musical, the numbers are used to express how the teenagers are feeling inside.
“These rock songs are what’s going on inside these teenagers,” Skeele said. “So, essentially the spoken scenes are in the real world and the songs are all happening in the world inside these young people.”
Because of all the scenes pertaining to sex, sexuality and self-discovery in the musical, Skeele said he started out the process by telling the students in the play that they were going to have to be brave.
“The [students] came into the show loving it so much that they were really prepared to delve into things,” Skeele said. “I was worried about it, of course, because we had to talk to some degree about sex from a teenagers’ perspective and different mindsets that you run through sexually as a teenager, but as I said, they were really open to thinking about it and talking about it.”
Zach Frye, senior theatre major plays Melchior Gabor, one of the main characters in the musical. Frye said his character grew up like every other kid in Germany, but the difference between Gabor and the other characters is that his parents are a lot more laid back and easy going.
Having just torn his ACL again, Frye said it was hard for him to try to not show pain on his face throughout his performance.
EJ Christopher, sophomore theatre major with an emphasis in acting plays Moritz Stiefel. Christopher said Stiefel was a pretty interesting character to play.
Stiefel doesn’t do well in school and he always tries to fit into a crowd, and he even gets kicked out of his home, Christopher said. Throughout the play, Stiefel struggles with depression and finding himself.
Christopher said the hardest part about playing this role was portraying such an iconic character.
“He’s one of the most popular characters in the show and I really had to go to a dark place for this role,” Christopher said. “This has probably been one of my most challenging roles ever. David really wanted me to be very specific about the good side of Moritz, but the dark sides as well.”
Christopher said on the inside, Mortiz is a very sad kid, but on the outside, he’s very awkward and sporadic.
“It’s very challenging to go to such a dark place at a point where I just go home and cry at the end of every rehearsal,” Christopher said. “It’s a very emotional-driven role.”
Christopher said students will relate to this musical because it’s so relevant to today’s youth.
“People are facing depression, people are getting raped, people are getting sexually abused, people are having feelings in their body that they just don’t understand and then when they try to reach to the adults or society, they just don’t want to listen,” Christopher said.
Senior music therapy major, Jessica Patterson plays Martha Bessell, who is abused by her father, but tries to keep it a secret.
During the song in the musical, “Left Behind,” a funeral takes place for one of the characters. Patterson said at the time of the cast learning the song, she had a death in her family and it was rough, being that she had to pantomime a funeral in the musical.
“I remember [during] the first couple rehearsals of “Left Behind,” everyone was crying,” Patterson said. “It was rough. No one likes dealing with teen suicide.”
Senior theatre and fine arts major and the public relations chair of the theatre department, Kaitlin Cliber said most of the Broadway’s original cast for “Spring Awakening” was deaf. During the Broadway play, Cliber said the directors cast people to play the deaf character’ voices. Cliber said the SRU cast was inspired by this.
“As an outreach, we made a video,” Cliber said. “The president of the American Sign Language Club, Rachel Hunziker, came in and taught the cast how to say thank you for inspiring our cast and we love you, and we sent it to them [Broadway’s musical directors] and the production manager actually replied. It was great.”
Cliber also said there was a trailer made for the play that has been playing before every movie that SGA plays over the weekend.
“Spring Awakening” opens on Friday, Nov. 13 and runs through Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room of the University Union. Tickets are $7 for students and $12 for the general public.