13 Jul 2001
Spring Awakening, a new musical based on the Wedekind play of the same name, was given a workshop by the Roundabout Theatre Company in late June. Michael Mayer directed a cast headed up by Michael McElroy and Gavin Melchior.
The show, written by Steven Sater (lyrics) and pop star Duncan Sheik (music), was developed at the Sundance Theatre in Utah. It also received a workshop at the Roundabout Theatre Company in late 2000 and, according to sources, may be looking at a fall opening in New York City in 2002. A spokesperson for the Roundabout that the show was being developed with the possibility of production during the 2002-03 season.
A spokesman for the Sundance stated earlier this year that the show would be staged by the Roundabout Theatre Company sometime in the future. A representative for Sater confirmed that information, saying that a fall 2002 bow was the goal, with a possible out-of-town tryout to precede the Roundabout run.
Spring Awakening originated at the La Jolla Playhouse, though that theatre will not be presenting the work. Carla Bianco, Roger Bart, Marilyn Caskey and Jose Llana took part in the Sundance workshop. Sater's spokesperson said the musical boasts 12 primary roles.
Spring Awakening was written by German playwright Frank Wedekind in 1891. Concerning the advent of puberty in children, the drama was considered controversial and not produced until 1906. Wedekind is best known for his equally controversial "Lulu" plays.
Playwright Steven Sater and pop music sensation Duncan Sheik seem to enjoy working together. A couple seasons ago, the two collaborated on Umbrage at Off-Off-Broadway's HERE. The play was written by Sater, and Sheik contributing music to the show.
Since then, the duo have teamed on a CD, "Phantom Moon," to be released on Feb. 27. The acoustic album features all original songs, music by Shiek, lyrics by Sater. It will not sport any selections from Spring Awakening
Both Sater and Sheik are Buddhists. They struck up a friendship during chanting sessions. Sater eventually mentioned that a play of his, Umbrage, was scheduled to open at HERE. Sheik expressed an interest.
Umbrage tells of an unlikely friendship between Ulysses, a reclusive factory worker trying to come to terms with his ravaged life, and Smith, a young, would-be musician. Sheik was intrigued by the musical aspect of the work and asked to read the play. Soon Sater and Sheik were collaborating on music for the piece.
Singer-songwriter Sheik burst onto the music scene a couple years back with the single "Barely Breathing."
Sater's Umbrage won the Steppenwolf New Play Prize. His Asylum was recently presented by Naked Angels. Other plays include Carbondale Dreams and Perfect for You Doll.
—By Robert Simonson