Spring Awakening is a technical triumph. I was skeptical if Manny Prieto could successfully pull of production designing the show (designing the set, lights and costumes) especially when one understands the limits of the Massman. I was happily proven wrong. Everything was beautifully done and you could tell that talented designers worked on the show. Read more about the show and my interview with Manny here.
The lighting design, over set design, helps tell the story. Manny used simple lighting for the dialogue scenes, but when the musical numbers began, the Massman transformed into this hyper-reality full of saturated colors, adding to the emotional impact of each song. To achieve this effect, he used a ton of LED lights. As part of the set, there are trusses lining the edge of the stage. When the music starts, they are lit from below, creating an otherworldly feel and look. The show has two spotlights, unheard of for the Massman.
The show has a seven piece band, which means they are going to be loud. Kelsi Halverson (sound designer) live sound mixes the eight microphones during the musical numbers. I know this may not sound unusual, but remember that this is a student produced show in a small theater completely independent of the School of Theater. Live mixing of shows is usually reserved for the spring musical in the 500 seat Bing Theater.
Mark Suennen did a superb job as music director. The band was another character in the show. None of the instruments over powered the other but blended in perfect harmony. When you remember that this a student produced show, it is impressive that they have a seven piece band.
The costumes were perfect. You could tell that they spent time designing the costumes and didn’t just pull from the actors’ closet. Each piece fit the actors perfectly because Manny Prieto and Hannah Kim either made the pieces or tailored the bought garments. They surprisingly had a lot of white clothing (you try to avoid white on stage and in film because it’s so bright and hard to control).
SPOILER ALERT: Wendla says “My entire life, I’ve never felt anything.” This show forces you to emotionally feel something from the heart wrenching song “The Dark I Know Well” when Martha (played by Liz Cowell) confesses that her father beats her to “Totally Fucked” when Melchoir (played by Kyle McLaughlin) is blamed for Moritz’s death and expelled from school. The entire cast didn’t shy away from the sensitive subject matters from Loren Ramos (Hanschen) masturbating on stage during “My Junk” to Kyle McLaughlin (Melchoir) and Jenna Bamberger (Wendla) sleeping together during “I Believe.” Sophomore Madelyne Heyman directed the 16 member cast.
*Article originally post here