Spring Awakening BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Joan Marcus
  • NY TIMES

  • DEADLINE

  • AP

  • AMNY

  • NBC

Opening Night:
September 27, 2015
Closing:
January 24, 2016

Theater: Brooks Atkinson / 256 West 47th Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

Based on Frank Wedekind's 1891 play with music, "Spring Awakening" boldly depicts how young people navigate the thrilling, confusing and mysterious time of their sexual awakening. The story centers around a brilliant young student named Melchior, his troubled friend Moritz and Wendla, a beautiful young girl on the verge of womanhood. Please note: The production will feature American Sign Language fully incorporated into the the performance.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Spring Awakening

    ‘Spring Awakening’ by Deaf West Theater Brings a New Sensation to Broadway

    Charles Isherwood

    September 27, 2015: One of the great musicals of the last decade was born anew on Sunday, when the thrillingly inventive Deaf West Theater production of “Spring Awakening” opened on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theater. Any qualms theater-lovers might have about this being a premature, whiplash-inducing revival — the original closed in 2009, after all — will vanish like frost in strong sunlight when the young cast of both hearing and deaf actors floods the stage. Deaf actors in a musical? The prospect sounds challenging, to performers and audiences alike. But you will be surprised at how readily you can assimilate the novelties involved, and soon find yourself pleasurably immersed not in a worthy, let’s-pat-ourselves-on-the-back experience, but simply in a first-rate production of a transporting musical. “Spring Awakening,” with a fluidly written book by Steven Sater and a beautiful score by Duncan Sheik, is adapted from the 19th-century German play by Frank Wedekind, which was banned after publication. In this production, directed with remarkable finesse by Michael Arden (who starred in the same company’s “Big River,” seen on Broadway in 2003), the primary roles are divided among deaf and hearing actors, with the deaf performers’ songs and some of their dialogue being delivered by actors who double the roles.

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  • DEADLINE REVIEW OF Spring Awakening

    L.A.’s ‘Spring Awakening’ Electrifies Broadway With Century-Old Tale

    Jeremy Gerard

    September 27, 2015: After celebrated runs in Los Angeles, Deaf West’s transfixing revival of Spring Awakening arrives on Broadway with its fresh energy, hormonal heebie-jeebies and furious poignancy intact. Reconceived by director Michael Arden along the same lines as this company’s boundaries-bursting 2003 revival of Big River, this intoxicating production kicks the power of Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s propulsive musical into a higher sphere altogether. And yet it seems truer in spirit than even the original 2006 production to Frank Wedekind’s daring, scandal-making play about teens on the verge of a sexual breakdown. With a cast that includes deaf actors, some in roles that are doubled by hearing actors and most employing American Sign Language to sheer balletic effect, the production heightens the adolescent poles of isolation and community, longing and rejection, to a palpable poignancy. The show has been spiked for Broadway with some star-fire from the casting of Oscar winner Marlee Matlin (Children Of A Lesser God), Patrick Page (Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark), Camryn Manheim (The Practice) and Krysta Rodriguez (Smash). But it’s the kids who matter, and they’re sensational — especially in the roles that made stars of original cast members Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele.

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS REVIEW OF Spring Awakening

    New 'Spring Awakening' Opens Its Arms to All

    Mark Kennedy

    September 27, 2015: Little can contain the new, electrifying version of "Spring Awakening" now on Broadway. Actors use their faces, mouths and hands to communicate. Projections offer song lyrics and dialogue. Performers run through the theater aisles, even occupying a box seat. Musicians roam the stage with their instruments. At one point, incense fills the theater. The nonprofit Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles, which brought Broadway the triumphant "Big River" in 2003, has done it again with Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's rock musical — making inclusionary, astonishingly alive work. "Spring Awakening," which opened Sunday at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, mixes hearing and deaf performers with elegant ease, adding new depth to a show about the dangers of failing to communicate. Deaf actors communicate to the hearing audience by relying on colleagues elsewhere onstage to provide their spoken dialogue and singing voice, like alter egos. Hearing actors use American Sign Language — evocative and beautiful onstage — to communicate with deaf audience members. In this theater, no one is excluded.

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  • AM NEW YORK REVIEW OF Spring Awakening

    'Spring Awakening' a visually stunning revival

    Matt Windman

    September 27, 2015: It's a bit soon to bring the rock musical "Spring Awakening" back to Broadway, considering that it closed just seven years ago, but an inspired and innovative revival that incorporates American Sign Language just happened to be staged in Los Angeles which deserved a New York run. "Spring Awakening" is based on Frank Wedekind's 1891 German expressionist drama of the same name about teens whose parents left them utterly unprepared for the hormonal turbulence of adolescence, leading to tragic consequences. In stark contrast to the provincial, 19th-century setting and its repressive code of conduct, songwriter Duncan Sheik and playwright-lyricist Steven Sater created a contemporary pop-rock score that expresses the teens' inner life, frustrations and longings. The revival was conceived by Deaf West Theatre, whose production of the "Huck Finn" musical "Big River" came to Broadway in 2003. Among the cast was Michael Arden, who is the director of "Spring Awakening."

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  • NBC NEW YORK REVIEW OF Spring Awakening

    Sign Language and Song Intertwine in Deaf West's "Spring Awakening"

    Robert Kahn

    September 27, 2015: "Spring Awakening"—with a cast of new faces, plus an Oscar winner and an Emmy winner in supporting roles—has been revived and radically reimagined, nearly a decade after first blossoming on Broadway. Michael Arden, who starred in Paper Mill’s recent “Hunchback,” directs the Deaf West Theatre production, which has transferred to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre for a limited engagement on the heels of a Los Angeles staging. Deaf West was last represented on Broadway with “Big River,” in 2003. A major thrill of the company’s endearing new “Spring Awakening” is that key roles are played by deaf actors employing American Sign Language—their speech and singing is done by other actors, mostly trailing in the shadows. At the same time, hearing actors in other roles speak their lines and, at the same time, deliver them in ASL. “Spring Awakening” debuted at The Atlantic in 2006, then made a swift transfer to Broadway. That cast included future stars Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff.

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  • DC THEATRE SCENE REVIEW OF Spring Awakening

    Signing and Singing, Celebrating Sexuality

    Jonathan Mandell

    September 27, 2015: The Deaf West production of "Spring Awakening" at the Brooks Atkinson tangibly enhances an acclaimed musical about rebellious and repressed adolescents. By cleverly pairing deaf actors who are signing with hearing actors who are singing, Deaf West has made the show the most accessible on Broadway, but also forged it into something theatrically exceptional. The original 2006 Broadway production stayed faithful to playwright Frank Wedekind’s dark 1891 German play about the tragic consequences of a society intent on keeping its young ignorant and inhibited. But composer Duncan Sheik, lyricist and book writer Steven Sater, and a creative team that included director Michael Mayer and choreographer Bill T. Jones added another layer to the cautionary tale — a full-out celebration of adolescent energy and sexuality set to an alt rock beat. "Spring Awakening" ran for more than two years, won eight Tony Awards, including for Best Musical, and made stars out of three of the exciting cast members then in their early 20’s, John Gallagher Jr. (who won a Tony for portraying Moritz), Lea Michele (as Wendla), and Jonathan Groff (as Melchior; now portraying King George in "Hamilton".)

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