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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Spring Awakening’ combines musical talent with dark reality

Published: November 14, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc., Featured

This weekend, Typanium Euphorium presents “Spring Awakening.” Directed by Rachel Liff ’16, the musical premiered on Thursday night in the SCC Theater.

The play opened as Sarah Steiker ’17, playing Wendla Bergmann, walked on stage toward a chair. She put on a short dress and began to sing. Immediately, the discipline and determination of the cast was showcased as (unexpectedly) a moth flew toward her. Just a few minutes into the show, the creature landed on her dress once and even flew toward her face. Not once did Steiker flinch or even glance at the moth. From that moment, the audience knew that this show was the real deal.

Luckily, a focused gaze was not the only thing that Steiker—or any of the cast—had to offer. Steiker and co-star Jason Theoharis ’17 led the cast in an amazing range of vocals. The pair boldly played out a sexual encounter on stage and showed true emotion in their actions and their voices. Steiker had confident vocals, but when her song started with her character crying, her voice trembled. The couple shared a few intense scenes, never holding back so as to provide the audience with the full shock factor.

Zach Marlin ’16 brought much of the darkness to the play as the confused and struggling Moritz. Though his character is one of the most troubled in the play, with strong vocals and an upbeat presence on stage, he was also one of the most liked. On the other hand, Katie Jacobs’ ’16 character Ilse was not introduced to the show until much later. Despite the shortened time, Jacobs’ solos were poignant, and she gave a raw display of emotion in Ilse’s encounter with Moritz.

After Steiker opened the show, the men of the cast created a familiar scene of a Latin class at a school for boys. “Bitch of Living” created an atmosphere reminiscent of “Dead Poet’s Society.” The boys maneuvered wooden chairs around stage in amazing synchronism with each other and the music. As they jumped on top of the chairs, one got the feeling that this show would carry the same weight as the Robin Williams classic.

The choreography by Sarai Warsoff ’16 was greatly detailed. From tapping feet in the dark behind a spotlight to dragging hands against chests and thighs, the actors were always moving with the music. Actors constantly were moving their hands up and down their chests and legs and head, giving physicality to the longing that the characters sang of.

One of the most effective casting decisions was to make Zoë Golub-Sass ’16 and Joe Tinianow ’17 all of the adult parts in the show. Golub-Sass and Tinianow played off of each other so well, creating comedic breaks as well as reflecting the classic misunderstanding of a younger generation by the older.

Tympanium Euphorium created an atmosphere that was sincere in both its comedy and its angst. The cast’s performance of “My Junk” perfectly encapsulated the realness and hilarity of the scene. Part of the cast stood around Jason Teng ’17 as he sat in a chair masturbating. While Teng humorously portrayed the situation, audience members chuckled knowingly of the struggle of having parents yelling at the door of the bathroom when all you need is some privacy.

Almost every song featured multiple cast members, even those without real character identifications. Dennis Hermida Gonzalez ’16, Rodrigo Garcia-Granados ’18 and Adam Recht ’16 all had strong solos throughout the show, despite for the most part being ensemble characters. Similarly, Nicole Wittels ’15, Gabi Nail ’18 and Isidora Filipovic ’18 added vibrancy to numerous songs and dances.

Between the depth of the cast’s vocal talents and Alex Faye’s ’15 direction of the pit, the music in “Spring Awakening” could not have been better. Students should go see “Spring Awakening” while they still can this weekend, on Friday, Saturday or Sunday at 8 p.m. or Saturday at 2 p.m.