SJU Theatre Company Springs into 85th Season with "Spring Awakening"
Thursday, September 27, 2012
by Marie Vitale '14
PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 27, 2012) - The SJU Theatre Company is set to begin its 85th anniversary season with a production of the gripping musical Spring Awakening, which opens Thursday, Oct. 4, at 8 p.m. in Bluett Theatre and runs through Sunday, Oct. 7, at 2 p.m. Performances continue Oct. 18-20.
Spring Awakening is based on a play of the same name written by German playwright Frank Wedekind in 1891. In the play, German teenagers in the late 1800s struggle to understand adolescence and their maturing bodies. The musical’s 2006 Broadway debut production, with music by Duncan Sheik and lyrics and book by Steven Sater, won eight Tony Awards as well as a Grammy Award for the original cast album. Since then, there have been successful productions both in the United States and abroad.
When asked about the SJU Theatre Company’s selection process, the production’s director Renee Dobson, M.F.A., associate professor of music and film, says, “We wanted to celebrate the 85th anniversary by kicking off the season with something relatively new or contemporary that ‘spoke to the students’ – musical theatre from their generation.” Although Spring Awakening is set in the past, Dobson believes the contemporary pop-rock score keeps it fresh, portraying “the awakening of youth into adolescence,” and how conflicts with “tyrannical parental and adult figures” are issues that transcend time periods.
This production of Spring Awakening is also noteworthy in that the SJU Theatre Company will be one of the first universities in the Philadelphia area to present it. The musical had not been released for university production in this area until now.
Spring Awakening’s candid depiction of adult situations caused the play to be banned in the 19th century and has continued to generate controversy since then. Children under 14 years of age will not be admitted without a parent or guardian. However, both the cast of the musical and the Department of Music, Theater and Film embraced the project for its merit and its pertinent themes. Dobson believes the audience will find the musical’s portrayal of “the corruption of youth by society” and “the extremes young people will go to because of how they are pushed by societal demands” relevant and thought-provoking.
The production boasts a cast of 15 students, including Patrick Bishop ’13 as Melchior Gabor and Megan Smith ’14 as Wendla Bergman. There will also be a live, onstage band that will include several SJU students.
Performances run Oct. 4-6 and continue Oct. 18-20 at 8 p.m., with a matinee on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the box office one hour before the show, by visiting the SJU Theatre Company website or by calling 610-660-1181. The cost is $10 for SJU students, faculty and staff and senior citizens; general admission is $18. Bluett Theatre is located on the campus of Saint Joseph’s University in Post Hall at 56th Street and Overbrook Avenue.