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"Spring Awakening" features sensitive life topics

by Courtney Deeren - Copy Editor
Thu, Apr 11th 2019 04:00 pm

The College at Brockport Harlequin club hosted its adaptation of “Spring Awakening” Thursday through Sunday, April 4-7. The play, which was originally written by German playwright Frank Wedekind in 1891, was adapted for Broadway as a rock musical in 2006 by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater. 

The show tackles many sensitive topics from the perspective of 19th century teens going through puberty. Cast member Gabriel Brett explained the seriousness of the topics included in the show. 

“It is a sensitive topic,” Brett said. “So much is touched upon that one issue or topic will relate to an audience member, whether that’s growing up, puberty, abuse or sexual harassment.” 

Fellow cast member Autumn Manes, who played Ilsa, seconded that notion. 

“Even though it takes place in 1800s Germany it is still relevant,” Manes said.

One thing that contributes to this in Manes’ mind is that no one fell into the background. 

“It is easy to forget some characters and focus on Wendla and Melchior’s story, but we tried not to let that happen,” Manes said.

Most of the cast seemed to agree on was how well Director Ali Henderson’s vision came to life. While Manes had previous experience in this particular show, this was the first time she’d seen it like this. 

“This was not my first time in this show, I played Marta in a production in Long Island, but this was like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Manes said. “Ali’s vision was innovative and beautiful,” 

Manes also talked a bit about the experience of working on a production that was completely student run. 

“We’re all friends in the end, everyone was equal but still respectful,” Manes said.

Brett touched on the challenges one can face when working with peers as well. 

“Working as peers can be challenging,” Brett said. “Outside we are all friends but when we come inside to the theater environment everyone has to respect other positions. What helped was the subject matter. We had to work together to create the message we wanted the audience to walk away with.” 

Steve Kurdziolek, who played leading man Melchior, had worked with Henderson before during the mainstage production of “Prelude to a Kiss” last semester. 

“I worked with Ali before and it was great working with her again, she’s very creative,” Kurdziolek said.

The audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy the show as they applauded and cheered after every scene. During particularly tense moments, many audience members gasped and some even urged the characters to make certain decisions. The audience was also rowdy during humorous scenes, offering a lot of laughs throughout the show. 

The Harlequin club adapted the show beautifully with a small cast in the Black Box Theater. With the creative use of lighting and dancers behind a white curtain to echo the characters’ feelings and emotions, the tough topics were tackled with artistic talent.


cbeag1@brockport.edu | @courtneydeeren

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