Thursday, September 1, 2011

Spring Awakening

The Greater Orlando Actors Theater is presenting "Spring Awakening" at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater through September 4th. This is a musical based on a play written in the 1892 by Frank Wedekind in Germany. Having seen the play in its original form I thought I knew what I was to expect. Entering the Mandell Theater I was surprised to find it had been turned into a theater in the round. Seating bleachers lined all four walls creating an intimate square staging area in the center of the room. A single wooden chair with a young girl's night gown draped over its back sat in the center of the stage as the audience filed in. The house went dark and then actress Melina Countryman stood on the chair and she was bathed in a spotlight wearing only her turn of the century undergarments. I was hooked from the moment she sang "Mama Who Bore Me." She was soon joined by a chorus of girls who stomped to the lyrics in a sensual anger. The shows over riding theme was shouted to the rafters. These were women in full bloom who had to deny their sensuality.

I resisted the urge to sketch these young actresses and instead focused on the boys in their school uniforms who were being forced to learn using rote memorization. Adam McCabe as Moritz began to doze off. When the instructor prodded him awake he came alive as an electric live wire, frenetic and disheveled. He began to sing "The Bitch of Living" and all the boys joined him as they expressed their yearning and sexuality which was repressed and as of yet only a dream. I was surprised when audience members stood and started dancing. The choreography by Jessica Mariko was driven and sensual. During the course of the show several members of the audience changed into turn of the century garb becoming part of the cast. Simple effects like using a flashlight to illuminate a singers face were beautifully understated and intimate. Sarah Villegas as Ilse reacted against the sexual abuse of her father by running off to an artist commune where she posed for artists. She was attracted to the quirky Moritz but he was to blind to see her advances. When she sang "Blue Wind" it became clear she was to beautiful for such a cruel world.

Melchior played by Anthony Pyatt Jr. wrote a long scientifically accurate and occasionally illustrated description of the sexual act for his friend Moritz who was experiencing tortured sexual dreams. When this document was discovered by authorities he was accused of warping his friends mind and hastening his suicide. I've been told I avoid intimacy, yet when I write, I tend to express myself without inhibition and more than once what I wrote was unearthed and used as evidence against me. Yes, I wrote that. My soul is not my own. I am "Totally Fucked." "Lets discuss what you meant in paragraph two, sentence five." Blah, blah... blah, blah... blah, blah, blah.

The director Paul Castaneda and assistant director Jeremy Seghers did an amazing job of bringing this show alive in such an intimate setting. Simply stated, I was bowled over by this show and the young talented cast. There are only three performances left. Friday and Saturday's shows (Sept. 2nd & 3rd) are at 8:30pm and Sunday's show (Sept. 4th) is at 7:30pm. for tickets or call 407 872-8451 for information.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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