"Spring Awakening" – A Rock Musical With Heart

Arianna Tolentino and Michael Craigen  In “Spring Awakening,” the Saint Mary’s College Performing Arts Department has created a moving rock musical that tackles harsh issues with raw energy yet still retains a haunting sweetness at its core. The experience is unforgettable.

Under the insightful direction of SMC faculty member Reid Davis, a talented cast of SMC students brings a startling energy to the production, and choreographer Jia Wu adds a kinetic style that brilliantly amplifies the message and spirit of the play.     

The production, based on a recent adaptation of an 1892 play by German expressionist Frank Wedekind, is essentially a coming of age story. It shines a fierce light on that moment when the life force, with all its surging, confused, exciting sexuality, thrusts children into adulthood, only to have them find that society’s strictures are waiting to squelch their every natural instinct and burning dream – with sometimes tragic consequences.

When the production debuted on Broadway in 2007, it was one of those rare plays that breathed new life into the term “Broadway musical.” It left the critics raving and won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

“Spring Awakening” doesn’t gloss over life’s messy, complex realities but asks the audience to look at them with open eyes and question the role that our social institutions - particularly education - play in shaping the lives of our youth. Although it is set in the late 19th century, the themes clearly resonated with students and others in the audience.

As the young rebel Melchior Gabor, Michael Craigen showed real star quality, and Arianna Tolentino was affectingly vulnerable as a girl exploring her sexuality in a world that denied any such thing existed. Oliver Reyes’ astonishing dance skills lent the perfect jagged edge to his portrayal of the confused, tormented Moritz Steifel, and Kalise Ahern brought an unpredictable, free-spirited quality – and a beautiful voice – to her role as the bohemian Ilse.

The musical numbers, particularly the energetic "The Bitch of Living" and the evocative "The Word of Your Body" were extremely moving and all of the students in the cast showed great courage and maturity in tackling this difficult play. With the help of Davis, Jia, set designer Rogelio Lopez and music director Robert Moreno, they worked as a tight ensemble to produce a thrilling, in-your-face experience.

By Teresa Castle
Office of College Communications

View more photos of the production by Andrew Nguyen ’15

Tickets may be purchased online until 12 hours before the show or at the box office in LeFevre Theatre starting one hour before the show.

What Audiences Are Saying about "Spring Awakening" at SMC

Oliver Reyes (center) and other cast members in SPRING AWAKENING“Got plans this weekend? Break them! Go see "Spring Awakening" at Saint Mary's College! Wonderfully acted by a committed cast and brilliantly directed by Reid Davis! You will love it!” - Michael Berry-Berlinski, chair of Theatre, Oakland School of the Arts

“It was a remarkable experience.  If I could talk with the cast, I would tell them they were courageous and vulnerable, and it is important for artists to be both.” - Assistant Provost Richard Carp

“Absolutely awesome job, everyone. I loved the show and can't wait to see it again.” -  Donna Olson, “Voices of Broadway”

“I had the good fortune of seeing the opening night performance of "Spring Awakening." It is an AMAZING, intense, funny, disturbing, and redeeming production. You will not believe the choreography, set design, singing and acting. WOW. And all for only $8. I am so proud of our students for giving so much of themselves to this story, and of the theater department for producing this work. This play will spark many worthy conversations. My seminar students related it to St. Augustine today!!  Please make sure you also check out some of the talks scheduled on various themes.” - Monica Fitzgerald, Liberal and Civic Studies

"Amazing show! Hilarious, moving and like no other. Absolutely worth every moment. As good as shows I've seen at professional theater companies across the Bay Area!" - Beth Hampson, CILSA

“This performance may be one of the most expressive I've seen in my 5 1/2 years of watching drama productions at SMC.”

“Saint Mary's ALWAYS puts on great shows; however, "Spring Awakening" is one of a kind.”

“This show is an emotional hurricane of pain, infatuation, and beauty that makes you simultaneously proud and terrified of being human. I highly recommend this show for EVERYONE!”

“An amazing show all throughout! The music, dancing, emotion, and colors of the performers hit home.”

“OMG. SPEECHLESS. Dear SMC community, GO SEE Spring Awakening at SMC. It was amazing.”