“Spring Awakening” at Falcon’s Eye Theatre

I’m pretty sure I’m the last person to jump on the “Spring Awakening” bandwagon. I’ve heard the music and seen a few YouTube clips, but I hadn’t managed to see a live production until today.

I approached the show with a certain degree of anti-hype. Just because “Spring Awakening” won the 2007 Tony Award for best musical doesn’t necessarily mean that any given production is going to be up-to-snuff (as evidenced by “Memphis,” which won the 2010 best musical award, and was a terrible experience when it came to Broadway Sacramento’s stage. The only reason I stayed through that show’s intermission was sheer stubbornness, but I digress.).

This production of “Spring Awakening” by Folsom Lake College’s Falcon’s Eye Theatre at the Harris Center for the Arts is excellent.

Elio Gutierrez and Holly Wilson, as Melchior and Wendla respectively, carry this production very well. I found myself wishing they had even more stage time than their leading roles allotted them. Gutierrez’ rendition of “Left Behind” in Act Two was remarkably moving, and Wilson’s voice gave me chills during “Whispering.” Gutierrez also must get a nod for one of the catchiest numbers in the show, “Totally Fucked.” I left with the song firmly stuck in my head.

Chris Emery’s portrayal of Moritz was very good, particularly in Act Two. His duet with Jennifer Morrison as Ilse — “Don’t do Sadness/Blue Wind” was a definite highlight. In fact, all of the songs that featured Morrison were strong points in the show. “The Dark I Know Well,” sung with Samantha O’Connor as Martha, was hauntingly powerful, and Morrison’s featured vocals in “The Song of Purple Summer” brought the show to an applause-worthy close.

Now for the part where I complain. Briefly, I promise.

A constant issue that I find in rock musicals is that lyrics are almost always difficult to understand. I am not expecting “My Fair Lady” diction in this show. That would be ridiculous.

However, I would recommend that — to enjoy the full scope of any musical — audience members should familiarize themselves with the plot and lyrics beforehand so time isn’t spent during the show wondering what, precisely, just happened.

And now I’m done with the complaints.  See?  Told you I’d be brief.

Design-wise, this show is brilliant. I absolutely loved both the set and the lighting. It was a treat to see the full extent of the Harris Center’s tech brought to bear for this production. A highly dynamic seven-piece orchestra backed the cast’s strong vocal performances, and was a real treat.

There are only three more opportunities to catch this show, and I highly recommend that you do so:
Saturday, April 12 — 2 p.m.
Saturday, April 12 — 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 13 — 2 p.m.

Please note that this show is not suitable for younger audiences.

Enjoy the clip below, but be warned — the lyrics are explicit.

Photos courtesy of the Falcon’s Eye Theatre Facebook page: www.facebook.com/FalconsEyeTheatre

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