F&M Brings Award-Winning 'Spring Awakening' to Roschel Stage

By Krissy Montville '14

A Franklin & Marshall College production of the award-winning rock musical "Spring Awakening" will take audiences into the tumultuous world of adolescence and coming of age in 19th-century Germany.   

The Department of Theatre, Dance & Film will present the play, which features an all-student cast, Thursday, Oct. 24, through Sunday, Oct. 27, in Roschel Performing Arts Center.

  • The all-student cast of "Spring Awakening" rehearses an ensemble scene from the musical, which opens Franklin & Marshall College's Roschel Performing Arts Center on Oct. 24. (Photo by Melissa Hess) 

Centering on the lives of 11 young adults, "Spring Awakening" takes on controversial topics of today such as sexuality, abortion, rape, and suicide. The musical, written by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik, won eight Tony Awards in 2007, including Best Musical. It had a two-year run on Broadway, debuting in December 2006 and closing in January 2009.

Director Kathryn Donovan, a visiting assistant professor of theatre, wanted to bring the powerful show to the F&M stage to continue the boundary-pushing themes of recent productions such as "Vinegar Tom" in 2012 and "Electra" in 2011.

"The productions TDF produces seem to have an edgy side, and balance contemporary work with academic heft," Donovan said. "The musical does all of that while providing a number of great roles for college-age performers."

Actor Mike Manley, a senior theatre performance major who plays the character Melchior in the play, said he and his cast mates thrived under Donovan's direction and mentorship.

"Working with her and furthering the passion I have for my craft has been a truly humbling and awakening experience for me, " he said. "The work she has driven us to create is something real, honest, and most importantly, necessary."

The play, although controversial on the surface, presents an opportunity for audiences to recognize the importance of issues such as consent, safety and sexual assault. "I want people to start talking," Donovan said. "I hope that audiences find the show a beautiful and enjoyable experience, and then when they are leaving the theater, find themselves moved to discuss the controversial topics presented with their friends and loved ones."

The F&M production adopts the grittier tone and style established in the original German play by Frank Wedekind in 1891, Donovan said. "The 2006 musical sanitized some of the issues discussed in the show while broadcasting others for more shock value than dramatic merit," she said. "Our production seeks to get at the heart of what the story is really about -- the idea that no one can take away your power without your consent -- and why that theme is so important today."

The cast rehearses Sundays through Thursdays and "goes beyond that talent with their dedication, determination, and generosity to create an ensemble that's like a family," Donovan said. The close-knit cast enhances the sense of community and shared common ground that people experience through theater productions, she said.

The play will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 24, 25 and 26. It also will be performed at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27. Tickets are $10 for the general public, $5 for faculty and staff, and $1 for students. They are available through the online box office or by calling 717-358-4858.

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