This past weekend, Brandeis Department of Theater Arts began their production of “Spring Awakening” with shows on Friday Nov. 11 at 8 p.m., Saturday Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday Nov. 13 at 2 p.m.
“Spring Awakening” is a musical set in late 19th century Germany written by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik and based on the original 1891 play by Frank Wedekind. The play tackles the timeless topics of sexuality, shame, religion, suicide and more while in a historical setting. The play features scenes of Latin schooling in between songs such as “The Bitch of Living” and “Totally Fucked.” According to the synopsis on the Theater Arts Department website, “Spring Awakening” explores the journey from adolescence to adulthood with a poignancy and passion that is illuminating and unforgettable.” It is “a landmark musical” utilizing an “electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality and rock and roll that is exhilarating audiences across the nation like no other musical in years.” “Spring Awakening” has won eight Tony awards including the Tony for Best Musical in 2007.
Choreography by director Pascale Florestal and assistant choreographer Kieran Whitney ’23 mixes modern dancing with older styles to compliment the weaving of sexual themes with shame throughout the show.
The cast consists of 13 Brandeis undergraduate students, five of which mentioned in their cast bios that “Spring Awakening” is their first Theater Arts production at Brandeis. Noemi ‘Nico’ Miller ’24 plays the role of Wendla, a young woman grappling with topics of love, sexuality and shame. Nico’s role, which was originated on Broadway by Lea Michele, begins the production with the opening number “Mama Who Bore Me.” This is Nico’s first leading role at Brandeis University, which they are “absolutely delighted” to play, according to their cast biography.
Gianni Storti ’26 plays Melchior, a radical rebel student who is more knowledgable than his peers about human sexuality and its consequences, a role originated by Jonathan Groff. Nicholas Kanan ’23 plays the role of Moritz, originated on Broadway by John Gallagher Jr. Kanan’s character is a quirky, deeply troubled young man whose mainly rock ’n’ roll vocals are featured on numerous upbeat songs despite his turmoil.
LaNiyah S.K. Grovell ’26 plays the role of Martha, a young woman struggling with abuse. Grovell’s vocals are highlighted in her duet with the character Ilse, played by Jessica Umanoff ’23 entitled “The Dark I Know Well.” Umanoff’s character, Ilse, is characterized as a free spirit, who no longer lives in the safety of her family due to her free-spirited nature.
Liam Delaney ’25 plays Hanschen, a confident student who takes advantage of the repressive system rather than letting it take advantage of him. Hanschen has a romance with another young man, Ernst, played by Reese Miller ’25. Ernst is a far less confident young man who sings about the struggle of being attracted to other men in “The Bitch of Living.”
Cam Steinberg ’26 plays the role of Georg, a comical character known for his sexual feelings towards his piano teacher. Laya Fridman ’25 plays Anna and Anika Hahn ’25 plays the role of Otto, two other young students struggling with similar issues to the other characters.
Brooks Bellinger ’24 and Cierra Boutin ’24 play Adult Man and Adult Woman respectively, playing the roles of parents and teachers who uphold the standards of the oppressive religious and educational systems.
“Spring Awakening’s” second weekend of showings is coming up, with showings on Nov. 18 at 8 p.m., Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Nov. 20 at 2 p.m. On Saturday, Nov. 19 there is a pre-show talk for students with Wellesley College professor Anjeana K. Hans in the lobby of Spingold Theater. The talk is going to be discussing the life of playwright Frank Wedekind.
Students can pick up one free ticket to “Spring Awakening” per Brandeis ID at the SCC Box Office, Monday through Friday between noon and 5 p.m. at the Usdan Game Room and at the Spingold Box Office 30 minutes before each showing. For students who purchase tickets without their Brandeis ID, each ticket is $5. For non-Brandeis students, tickets are $20.
Students should be aware of the topics of sexual assault, abuse, suicide and other potentially troubling themes present in the musical prior to attending performances.