Spring awakens in WU theatre dept.

Amanda Narverud, Washburn Review

Washburn students and Topeka community members have been rehearsing since September to bring the public a groundbreaking musical. The Washburn University theatre department and the Helen Hocker Center for the Performing Arts present, “Spring Awakening.”

 Haunting and electrifying, this alternative folk-rock musical is a re-visioning of Frank Weidekind’s 1891 controversial play of teenage angst, sexual longing and coming-of-age.

 “‘Spring Awakening’ preserves the tone of the original work infused with a pop/folk rock score by Duncan Sheik with book and lyrics by Steve Sater,” said Paul Prece, musical director. “It is somewhat like a ‘mash-up’ of the late 19th century play and 21st century musical sensibility.”

According to Prece,  “Spring Awakening” has won numerous awards and has only recently became available for colleges to produce. Prece said it is a serious work and that the principle roles are those of young people.  

“‘Spring Awakening’ is going to be a fantastic show, the cast is amazing and everyone has become such good friends [which] is one thing that it takes to put on a show like this,” said Bryce Korf, sophomore theatre major. “The show, however, isn’t for everyone due to its content.”

The production is not recommended for persons under the age of 16. The musical drama deals with teens discovering and dealing with their sexuality in a world where adults that surround them refuse to answer their questions or to provide guidance.

“It presents and portrays the difficulties of growing up in a strict and restrictive society,” said Prece. “At its heart is a Romeo and Juliet story with tragic consequences.”

The Washburn theatre department often partners with Helen Hocker Center of the Performing Arts. Musicals are expensive to produce and the collaboration brings two budget sources together. The two staffs also get to work together, allowing a mix of community actors and students to participate in the production.

“Washburn has a special connection to the city of Topeka and serves the Topeka community in many of its programs,” said Prece.

There was a week of auditions and castings for the production and the crew and actors have been rehearsing since the third week of September. Set and lighting design are by Tony Naylor, costume design by Sharon Sullivan, music direction by Nancy Scrinopskie Epoch, choreography by Sally Glassman, and direction by Paul Prece.

“Spring Awakening” opens Nov. 2 and lasts for two weekends, advance tickets may be purchased by calling the Helen Hocker at 785-368-0191. General admission to the production is $14, Washburn students, faculty and staff tickets are $7 with a Washburn ID.

The musical will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10 at Helen Hocker Center for the Performing Arts, 700 SW Zoo Parkway, Gage Park. The production will also be held at 2 p.m  Nov. 11 at the same location.

“The cast is amazing, the music is amazing and the story is spectacular,” said Korf.