Spring Awakening: Green Valley Theatre Company
The Grange Performing Arts Center3823 V St.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Musical comedy? Piece of cake. People do it every day. But musical tragedy? That’s a whole new and different thing. Spring Awakening, the first production by Green Valley Theatre Company in the new Grange Performing Arts Center, is definitely one of those “different things.”
Spring Awakening is like the Arab spring and sexual awakening joining forces—teens in revolt against authority while exploring how to deal with all the urges and changes going on within themselves. Incest, child abuse, masturbation, abortion, teen suicide and atheism are the themes of German playwright Frank Wedekind’s drama. Wedekind wrote Fruhlings Erwachen (Spring Awakening) in 1891, though it was banned at the time because of its content. It took Steven Sater (book and lyrics) and Duncan Sheik (music) to get the show before large audiences, when they adapted it into a successful Broadway musical in 2006.
Give director Christopher Cook props for making such a daring selection for the inaugural production in this new 48-seat space, as well as for the engaging young cast and strong instrumental ensemble he has assembled.
Elio Gutierrez stars as Melchior, the hero (and, one suspects, erstwhile stand-in for the playwright), who is intelligent, insightful and completely misunderstood. Mariana Seda, Denver Skye Vaughn, Kay Hight, Carly Sisto, Mary Katherine Cobb, David Taylor, Kenny Brian Gagni, Christopher Saechao, Gavin Sellers and Ethan Beck Cockrill portray the boys and girls. Craig Howard and Kristen Wagner portray all of the adult roles, from instructors to parents to priests.
Sater and Sheik provide a contemporary mix of rock and Broadway-style tunes, including “Mama Who Bore Me,” “The Bitch of Living,” “The Word of Your Body” and “Totally Fucked”—yes, it’s that kind of different musical theater.
Occasional weak spots in the vocal department are more than made up for by the exuberant performances. Demetra Rickles’ costume design, Carly Sisto’s hair and makeup and choreography and David Schultz’s lighting and sound all add production value.