7 Things of Note In Anticipation of Deaf West' Spring Awakening

Maybe you can’t think about the fall theater season at the moment because this sweltering late-summer heat is rendering you lethargic and hangry for all the iced beverages you can find. Or perhaps your bank account just took a heavy-beating purchasing Hamilton tickets for, like, 2017.

Regardless, I’m here to tell you that Deaf West’ Spring Awakening needs to be seen by humans everywhere. If I don’t see a packed theater the next four-ish months, I’ll lose my faith in humanity for an umpteenth time. Yesterday, I went to a preview - where director Michael Arden walked the press through some of the ins-and-outs of the show and the cast was on hand to perform a few scenes/numbers - and judging by what I saw, this show is mere weeks away from staking its claim as one of Broadway’s best offerings.

Trust me, I seldom foreshadow incorrectly. Here are some points to consider before hitting up the Ticketmaster...

- “Mama Who Bore Me” has always been a beautiful, smart gem that sets the tone and plays up the intelligence of the audience, but I can’t wait for people to see the staging of this opener so we can have endless discussions about it. And the message is quite clear - this sequence will remind you of the Spring Awakening you have come to know and love, but take it in an unexpected direction.

- After having my mind blown by the opening number and temporarily forgetting that the reprise of “Mama Who Bore Me" follows suit, my world got ROCKED. HARD. The combination of the ASL and Spencer Liff’s choreography is amazing on the eyes...and BRAVO ladies, way to badass and remind me that this is one of the best songs in the show and quite possibly of forever.

- Okay, it is time to talk about the actors and the set-up because general consensus is that people are confounded by this element. While I won’t go into much detail - this is most certainly not the time and place to do so - it is worth mentioning that some roles are performed by one actor who signs their lines while also reciting them. Other roles, such as Wendla and Moritz, amongst others, have one performer doing the ASL with another performer providing the voice (and in some cases, playing an instrument as well). At certain moments, the actors sharing a role are side-by-side, other times, they are on opposite sides of the rehearsal room stage. Sounds interesting, no?! And while skepticism is understandable and maybe even expected, rest assured, the cast/crew know what they are doing.

- As if the energy in the room wasn't spellbinding enough, the roof came crashing down yet again (mind you, we are only like eight minutes in!) when the boys got their moment during “The Bitch of Living.” Everything works - literally, EVERYTHING - and all the happy and exciting feels were being felt. After seeing this number, I will never think of Bobby Mayler and Marianna Wheelan the same way again.

- I may stand alone on this one, but I can admit to never really lending a thought to the adult characters peppered throughout Spring Awakening. The show is one of a handful of musicals that revolves around the younger set of characters and themes, so I never felt that the adults needed to be more prevalent in the story. Having said that, something clicked after watching the likes of Camryn Manheim and Marlee Matlin, plus a perfectly-cast Patrick Page, get their ‘perform’ on. I wanted to get to know their characters and learn about their nuances, their perspectives and such. I can’t quite put a finger on why that was, but for the meantime, I’m gonna chalk it up to the presence of the ASL and the considerable talents on hand. If reinterpreting and adding depth to Spring Awakening’s precedent is an objective of the production (which it likely, given that is what most revivals strive for), the adult characters are one well full of potential.

- Fun fact: 23 actors from this company are making their Broadway debut. Next to Bring It On from a few years back (which had 30 Broadway debuts), this is an astonishing amount. Welcome newcomers, enjoy the ride!

- Talking about the personal lives of Broadway people on this ol’ platform is not the usual, but I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge Krysta Rodriguez and what she is going through. Let’s just say seeing her yesterday in her element, smiling and laughing before the presentation with her cohorts and performing her heart out (all while wearing a killer outfit), is pretty fucking awesome. Way to slay, Ms. Krysta, way to slay...

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