New Jersey Stage

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kean University Presents Spring Awakening


(UNION, NJ) -- The Department of Theatre at Kean University presents the rock musical Spring Awakening November 11 through 19 in the Wilkins Theatre.  The musical is inspired by the play of the same title written in 1891 by Frank Wedekind.  One of literature's most controversial masterpieces, so daring in its depiction of teen-age self-discovery it was banned from the stage and not performed in its complete form in English for nearly 100 years, it frankly portrays issues of abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse and suicide.  Alternate rock is employed as part of the folk-infused rock score, juxtaposing a modern sensibility with the mores of the past.

Set in late nineteenth century Germany -- a world where the grown-ups hold all the cards -- the adolescent children yearn for answers, for the freedom to explore and understand themselves as sexual beings, to boldly and blindly claw their way through the inner and outer tumult of their own sexual "awakenings."  The Broadway musical ran for more than 900 performances and received eleven 2007 Tony Award nominations, winning eight, including Tonys for best musical, direction, book, score and featured actor. The show also won four Drama Desk Awards, while its London production won four Olivier Awards.

"Spring Awakening reveals the teenage exploration of sexuality and the frustration due to the oppression from adults in their lives," said Holly Logue, acting dean of Kean's College of Visual and Performing Arts, and director of the production.  Parents of young children who saw the musical when it premiered in New York raved about the opportunities it started for conversation between parent and child.  "I myself experienced this," continued Logue, "when my then 14 year old daughter chose to bury her head in my shoulder to avoid seeing the explicit love scene.  Perhaps she didn't want to see it with me or perhaps she didn't want to see it at all – but afterward, as we walked, our conversation was open, meaningful, and heartfelt."

The Kean production of Spring Awakening features Lauren Sodono, a junior at Kean University with a double BA major in Theatre Education and English Education as the central character, Wendla.  Melchior is played by Brandon Elia, a senior BA Theatre major and Greg Scalera, Kean theatre student and singer/pianist for local rock band The Agony Family, portrays Moritz.  The cast includes Samantha Mellina (Martha), Danielle Morris (Thea), Samantha Furst (Anna), Cara Ganski (Ilse), Emily Conklin (Petra),       Jasmine Taylor (Perta), Jason Gillis (Hanschen), Kyle Bergslien (Ernst), Justin Ferretti (Georg), Brandon Arias (Otto), Anthony Crouchelli (Rupert), Aaron McMillan (Deiter), Lucas Pinner (Reinhold/Ulbrecht), Katelyn Morgan (multiple adult women) and Anthony Mowatt (multiple adult men).

Performance times for Spring Awakening are Nov 11, 12, 16, 18, 19 at 8:00 pm; Nov 12, 13, 19 at 2:00 pm; Nov 17 at 5:00 pm.  Tickets are $15 standard, $10 seniors & students, and can be purchased by calling Kean Stage Box Office at 908.737.SHOW (7469), online at www.keanstage.com , or in person at Kean University's Wilkins Theater Box Office, located at 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, NJ.