Spring Awakening by Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, PA
March 14, 2018
Review submitted by Anna Mondragon of AP Schalick High School
A gripping tale about the dangers of parental failure and how children are affected by the world around them is presented in the musical Spring Awakening. This musical with very adult themes appears to be daunting for a high school, but Germantown Academy provided a powerful and tasteful performance that no one should miss out on.
This rock musical was first written as a play in 1891 by Frank Wedekind. It was then adapted into a musical by Steven Sater which opened on Broadway in 2006. This powerful tale highlights the lives of different children in a German town, primarily Wendla Bergmann, Melchior Gabor, and Moritz Stiefel. Each character struggles with issues like sex, abuse, suicidal thoughts, and failure which are issues that every teen struggles with. Though these characters go through so much, we are reminded it is always important to keep going and the actors at Germantown Academy did a great job in portraying this message.
The incorporation of the modern era is something that really stood out. The infusion reminded the audience that teens are still experiencing these issues. The entire cast had an energy about them that exuded their love with the art and the show and enthralled the viewer into the story line without taking the viewer out of the story.
Danny Ritz who played Melchior Gabor showcased a great understanding of the material. He showed us that thinking against the status quo is sometimes the right thing to do and that even if you are being opposed, it is okay to stick to your values. Alex Kafrissen as Wendla Bergmann showed the audience amazing dancing and expression of her emotions. Certainly though, Isaac Wilkins as Moritz Stiefel really stole the stage. He truly brought his own interpretation to the role and made sure he was not forgotten. His goofy character contrasted well with the mostly serious cast, but he was ready to make a situation serious when it needed to be and did so excellently.
The ensemble was a nice reminder that even if it seems that life is going awry, there are still many other lives happening around you. The ensemble was on stage most of the time and never was distracting to the show. The ensemble’s choreography was very well done.
The mostly stationary set was a nice touch to the teenage rebellion aura that the show gives off. Though the set movements were minor and nothing major was moved off and on, the movement was very fluid and not distracting at all.
Overall, “I Believe” Germantown Academy did a wonderful job in their rendition of Spring Awakening.
Review submitted by Anji Cooper of Academy of the New Church
Desire is an emotion that we are all subject to, even if we do not fully understand it. Innocence only lasts for so long, until it is overtaken by curiosity – a curiosity to discover and an innate need to understand the body and its emotions. Germantown Academy explores these quirks in human nature in its moving production of Spring Awakening.
Based on the German play of the same name, Spring Awakening is a rock musical with music written by Duncan Sheik. The show made its Broadway debut in 2006 with notable cast members such as Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele, John Gallagher Jr. and Skylar Astin. Set in 1891, Spring Awakening follows a group of young men and women as they explore the jagged path of adolescence, discovering their bodies, minds and true desires along the way.
Germantown Academy’s production of Spring Awakening was passionate and evocative, driven by captivating leads, impressive and capable supporting characters, and a fervent ensemble.
Danny Ritz, who played the precocious and headstrong Melchior, led the show with charisma and engaging energy. He demonstrated his powerful voice in “Totally F****d,” accompanied by a feverishly impassioned performance that allowed the audience to feel his character’s raw emotion. Alex Kafrissen played Wendla, a sweet and naive girl who falls for Melchior. She exhibited her haunting, melodic vocals in “Those You’ve Known” and “Mama Who Bore Me” as well as exceptional dancing talent throughout the show.
The entire cast exerted constant intensity and vehemence. Moritz (Isaac Wilkins) became a crowd favorite with his endearingly quirky outsider energy and physical comedy. He also proved his ability to act in serious moments, such as during his forceful performances in “And Then There Were None” and “Don’t Do Sadness.” Martha (Rachel Roth) and Ilse (Elisabeth Berlinger) stunned with their strong voices during “The Dark I Know Well” and “Blue Wind,” respectively. Hanschen (Max Donches) had the audience in stitches with his cocky, seductive delivery.
The production’s simple hair and makeup kept the audience firmly in the world without any distraction. The stage crew efficiently rearranged the set and props, allowing for smooth transitions between scenes. While the movement and actions of characters in the background could have diverted attention for some, the overall commanding presence of the actors on stage held the audience’s attention.
Germantown Academy’s production of Spring Awakening, brought to life by the cast’s boundless passion with candid and electric energy, fused rock and roll with issues of mortality and sexuality into a story that packs a powerful emotional punch.