Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening will tour

Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening will tour

Thousands of theatre-goers experienced a beautiful merge of West and East coast theatre when the Deaf West Theatre Company brought their new production of Spring Awakening to the Great White Way.

The female (deaf and hearing) ensemble of Spring Awakening.

“Mama Who Bore Me (Reprise)”. Deaf West-Broadway’s Spring Awakening. Credit to Joan Marcus.

Alternative-rock musical Spring Awakening, based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play, takes you on an emotional journey through the stories of young, angsty teenagers living in Germany, coping with life’s toughest challenges and learning what it truly means to grow up. Spring Awakening forwardly addresses topics such as suicide, abuse, sexuality, death, and love.

When Deaf West brought Spring Awakening to New York City, many questioned whether this revival of a beloved play-turned-musical would have success, and if so, how would it work? Deaf performance isn’t something most patrons often come across.

North Hollywood’s Deaf West Theatre Co., founded in 1991 by its deaf artistic director Ed Waterstreet, is the first Sign Language Theatre to come to the Western U.S.. Deaf West serves as a place for the discovery and exploration of both deaf and hard of hearing artists’ works – a safe space where these performers and designers can learn to embrace and hone their crafts.

Deaf West took 28 actors, a mix of both English and American Sign Language speaking individuals, and created a beautiful marriage between vocalization, music, and movement. The production’s director Michael Arden and choreographer Spencer Liff seamlessly integrated ASL into the musical. The hearing actors play instruments and sing the words that the deaf actors express through their bodies.

Spring Awakening is mainly focused around the love story of young Melchior and Wendla, two young school kids. Melchior is played by a hearing actor, while the actress playing Wendla is deaf.

Melchior (Austin McKenzie) and Wendla (Sandra Mae Frank). “Word of Your Body”. Deaf West-Broadway’s Spring Awakening. Credit to Kevin Parry.

Deaf West’s collaborative and creative team re-awakened, rather than simply reviving, Spring Awakening. This newly imagined Spring Awakening’s powerful and relatable story, hard-hitting rock music, and outstanding performances by the actors and musicians made for an incredibly successful adaptation. The Deaf West-meets-Broadway’s production truly sets a new standard for work currently making its way to Broadway. The production’s final, sold-out, performance was Sunday, January 24th following a limited five month engagement.

Despite the show’s seemingly too-short run, there is good news. Earlier this week, Playbill announced the exciting news of an impending North American tour for Deaf West-Broadway’s Spring Awakening. Spring’s Broadway producer, Ken Davenport, stated in an interview with Playbill that “this beautiful production has broken new ground on Broadway and has given people a new way to experience an already-stellar piece of musical theatre. We are thrilled to be able to bring it to a wider audience in cities across the country.” No dates and cities are currently set, but the tour is expected to begin in mid-2017.

Video Credit to BroadwayBox.

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