Preview: Spring Awakening
November 30, 9 p.m., December 1, 4-5, 7 p.m., December 1, 10 p.m.
Directed by Brandon J. Ortiz ’12
and Ryan P. Halprin ’12
Music Directed by David R. Sawicki ’12 and Mark R. Parker ’12
Produced by Katie R. McNicol ’12 and Marta Bralic ’12
Spring comes early this year at OBERON with Duncan Sheik and Steven Stater’s “Spring Awakening,” a rock musical based on Frank Wedekind’s 1892 play of the same name. The musical follows rebellious genius Melchior Gabor and his newly pubescent friends as they learn about the facts of life, in defiance of an adult society in late 19th-century Germany which attempts to keep them in the dark. Their sexual discoveries and teenage angst are expressed via melodramatic rock songs.
Jonathan K. Stevens ’14 plays Melchior while Anna J. Mitran ’13 plays romantic interest Wendla Bergmann, with whom he explores his nascent sexuality. “It’s awesome that we’re both comfortable enough with each other to do the things that we have to do. There’s a lot of physicality, sexually and otherwise. It’s great that we can get into our characters,” says Stevens.
This is the second time that Harvard students have performed at OBERON, the second stage of the American Repertory Theater, after last year’s “Chicago.” As with that production, “Spring Awakening” is being adapted to fit OBERON’s unconventional space. In one scene, “Melchior and Wendla are right in the middle of the audience on these two blocks, six feet in the air,” says Stevens. Director Brandon J. Ortiz ’12 says, “Our goal was to remain faithful to the Broadway production. The biggest changes are a result of adapting to the stage. There are stages all around the audience. It’s the same show, but in a different dimension.” Ortiz says OBERON is perfect for portraying a split “between these two worlds: 19th-century Germany and a punk rock concert in the present day. The themes are from the 1800s, but the songs are contemporary rock.”
While OBERON provides a unique environment, performing there also has some drawbacks. “Working at OBERON is always challenging. At any Harvard student space you get a week of being on stage, but since OBERON is a professional venue we only get one day of run-throughs before we open. We have to load in our set with lights, music, everything,” says producer Katie R. McNicol ’12.
“Spring Awakening” has come a long way from being banned in the late 1800s, thanks in part to modern music and a different perspective on growing up. “It kind of has a cult following. It’s an interesting modern rock version of an old play with people coming into puberty and sexual awakening,” says McNicol.