Don’t miss Spring Awakening at Theatre On The Bay


OVERHEARD while leaving Theatre On The Bay after watching Spring Awakening: “That was the best play I’ve ever seen.” Yes, replied her friend, it’s better than the New York production.

Having not seen it anywhere else, I can’t speak to director Sylvaine Strike’s interpretation of her first musical (is there no end to this remarkable woman’s talent?) other than to say it is rather brilliant, on every level. This, good people, is a quality theatre experience, one you should seek out before it concludes its (second) run on April 6.

That it has returned following its first outing in November last year is an indication in itself of how good Spring Awakening is. The material by German playwright Frank Wedekind, who worked between the 19th and early 20th centuries (he died in 1918) is challenging, let’s not pretend it isn’t. However, it is flawlessly executed by the students from LAMTA (Luitingh Alexander Musical Theatre Academy, with its inaugural book musical) who play the teenage boys and girls on the cusp of discovering their sexuality but upon whom draconian puritanical upbringings are thrust. “You must love your husband, and that is how babies are made,” Wendla Bergman’s mother informs her, and that’s final. No improvement on the stork myth which was Wendla’s previous instruction. Little wonder things play out as they do, with tragic outcomes.

Joining the students are Natalie Robbie (pictured below with Scarlett Pay as Wendla), who plays the adult women, and Francis Chouler playing the adult men, filling multiple roles as teachers and parents; evil, the lot of them. The setting is the very late 1800s, although adolescent hormones are timeless. Here, they are unexplained immoral mysteries, shrouded in secrecy and shame, and severely punished when revealed or discovered. There are no happy endings for any of the main characters.

Spring Awaking is a, in juxtaposition to its dark depressing dreariness, a rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater. The uniformity of the costumes and the minimal set, it’s the perfect vehicle for the LAMTA triple-threat students to showcase their remarkable talents. Polished and professional, seeing them on stage always fills me with such hope for the future of theatre.

If you have a sensitivity towards nudity, violence, sexual acts and suicide, this one is not for you. More information here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Claude Barnardo

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