07 October 2011

FRINGE review: Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening
Monash Uni Student Theatre and Monash University Academy of Performing Arts
1 October 2011
Alexander Theatre, Monash University
to 8 October

With over 60 Monash Uni students and recent graduates involved in every element of this production, it would be tedious to mention everyone who helps make this Spring Awakening so memorable; so, you'll have to read the program – and the only way to do that is to see this show.

Spring Awakening won Tony Awards in 2007 and is credited with bringing young audiences back to Broadway with its heart-breaking characters and rock-infused score. Its story is from a 1892 German play that was banned for confronting taboos like masturbation, first-sex, homosexuality, incest and violence. We may write openly about these topics now, but for all our contemporary knowledge, the pain and confusion about confronting any of these is still as strong;  so, the music is a juxtaposition of angry, hurting rock straight from the hearts of its young characters.

If the thought of a student-theatre musical leaves you shuddering, banish such fear. Monash Uni Student Theatre (MUST) continues to believe in young artists and creates a structure and atmosphere that lets them create productions that surprise and delight.

The core creative team – Yvonne Virsik, Cassandra Fumi, Tom Pitts, Kristen Adriaan, Jason Lehane (director, assistant director, musical director, choreographer, designer) – start with the skills of their artists to create a production that's led by emotion. What results is a musical that's as striking and moving as any Tony winner, but never tries to be Broadway. 

Spring Awakening is one of my favourite musicals from recent years and MUST's production is – I have to say it – a must. You might see versions with slicker dance and more mature voices, but you won't catch one with more heart.

And, really, the Clayton campus is a 20-minute drive from the city and there's parking at the door. Don't use its distance as an excuse.

Photo by Sarah Walker.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com

Interview with Yvonne about directing Spring Awakening.

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