Live Active Cultures
Seth wonders if Orlando can survive a double dose of Spring Awakening
Published: September 1, 2011
GOAT’s take that night was in many ways the opposite: loud, energetic and original – at times excessively so. Director Paul Castaneda has boldly adapted the staging for an “in the round” presentation, making good use of the environment and embedding actors in the audience, and Jessica Mariko’s choreography is closer to the original’s explosive spirit. And while the four-piece band led by Michael Horn lacks the Mud Flappers’ polish, they compensate with live presence and punch. Most important, Castaneda preserved a crucial element that Hair didn’t: the handheld microphones that signify the stylistic shift from the old-fashioned dialogue to the modern music. Though the omnipresent headset mics seemed like overkill, the overall effect has more of the rock & roll energy the authors intended.
Acting-wise, Melina Countryman makes a nicely naive (but secretly naughty) Wendla, and Anthony Pyatt Jr. (who recently starred in the nonmusical version of the play) got me a little teary at the end as Melchior. As Moritz, Adam McCabe has the requisite rock singing voice, but his interpretation seemed modeled on Crispin Glover’s nerdy George McFly from Back to the Future. Several ensemble members are standouts, especially Sarah Villegas (Ilse), Josh Roth (Hanschen) and Alexander Sage Oyen (Georg). What undercut the show was Castaneda’s occasional envelope-pushing: Is it necessary to add exposed breasts to a sensitive song about child molestation, or for Melchior to punch Wendla in the face and stomach instead of simply spanking her?
In the end, it turns out this town (and my spine) is strong enough to withstand two Spring Awakenings. The cast of Breakthrough’s production even attended the GOAT show with me, a show of community solidarity that ought to shush Facebook sniping. Now brace yourself, because there are multiple Drowsy Chaperones and Next to Normals looming on the horizon.
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