A musical which is primarily concerned with teenagers discovering their sexuality, Spring Awakening contains a number of humorous moments. However, it is the mix of these with the more serious scenes – for example those portraying child abuse and suicide – that make this a truly moving and powerful performance.
Aisling Ridge made for a very watchable Wendla, capturing the sweetness and innocence of the character wonderfully. Her vocals during the opening number ‘Mama Who Bore Me’ and indeed, throughout the show, were hauntingly beautiful. Anthony Hagan gave a touching performance as the academically unfortunate Moritz and Joe Penny made for a charismatic Melchior, making it easy for us to see why all the girls were swooning over him in ‘My Junk’, but it was Andrew Newton in the role of Hanschen who really caught my attention. His scene with Ernst (played by David Swain) in particular was very sweet and funny.
Lisa Pilkington’s vocals in ‘Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind’ were especially striking, with such a unique voice I was only sorry she did not have more solos, as her duet with Alexandra Demicoli’s Martha in ‘The Dark I Know Well’ also made me sit up and take notice. Jason Thomas and Maria Waters did fantastically as Adult Man and Adult Woman, convincingly portraying a number of different characters using an impressive array of accents and barely any costume changes.
The entire cast were completely and utterly mesmerising; lively, engaging and full of energy. Every single cast member gave a strong all-round performance, but it was the singing that really made this a night to remember, the harmonies absolutely gave me chills.
The juxtaposition of nineteenth century clothing and props with rock music and microphones worked well, and I particularly enjoyed the mix of accents– cast members hailed from all over the world, including America and Australia.
Although it’s almost impossible to single out one number as a favourite, I must say that ‘Totally F*cked’ was the highlight of the evening; the cast let loose with reckless abandon and everyone looked like they were having great fun.
The costumes looked fantastic, boys in shirts and shorts, the girls in colourful smock dresses and knee-high socks all round, I genuinely coveted a few items for my own wardrobe.
The choice of venue was also excellent. The Bridewell Theatre originally housed a swimming pool for the use of the Bridewell Institute, a school for working class boys and girls built in the 1890s, at around the same time as the original German play Spring Awakening (on which the musical is based) was written, making it the perfect setting for the performance.
To conclude, this production of Spring Awakening is smart, sexy and seriously packs a punch. Don’t miss it.
Spring Awakening is playing at the Bridewell Theatre until 19 May. For more information and tickets, see the Bridewell Theatre website.