Spring Is Here: Spring Awakening Debuts on Broadway Nov. 16

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and Kenneth Jones
16 Nov 2006

After an acclaimed, extended engagement at Off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company, the new Duncan Sheik-Steven Sater musical Spring Awakening plays its first performance at Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre Nov. 16.

Opening night is Dec. 10.

Michael Mayer (A View from the Bridge, Side Man, Thoroughly Modern Millie), who helmed the Off-Broadway run, directs here as well. At a recent press meet-and-greet, Mayer told Playbill.com, "I never conceived of this as a Broadway show. I've been working on it for eight years, and the whole time I had absolute belief in the show as being something really important and beautiful and exciting and completely innovative. But had you told me this would end up on Broadway, I would have said, 'You're out of your mind!' It always seemed like a non-profit theatre baby. But it just connects with people in such a way that I would have never anticipated."

Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff head the cast as, respectively, teens Wendla and Melchior, who are drawn to each other in a world where parents, ministers and teachers create an atmosphere of shame, silence and ignorance.

"I've been a part of the show for six years doing workshops and readings," Michele told Playbill.com. "It's been a dream for all of us to get the show to a Broadway house. We had an amazing run at the Atlantic. It was the perfect starting point for us. Thanks to them, we can take Spring Awakening to the next step."



Also returning in the roles they created Off-Broadway are Skylar Astin (Georg), Lilli Cooper (Martha), John Gallagher Jr. (Moritz), Gideon Glick (Ernst), Brian Johnson (Otto), Lauren Pritchard (Ilse), Phoebe Strole (Anna), Jonathan B. Wright (Hanschen) and Remy Zaken (Thea). New to the Broadway production, as the two adults, are Stephen Spinella and Christine Estabrook.

Spring Awakening — which features a score by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater — is based on Frank Wedekind's 1891 expressionist play, which was scandalous in its day for addressing sex, violence and suicide. This new musical version has two actors playing all the adult roles as an ensemble of young people strut, rant, wonder and wish — their characters search to understand the coming of age that they cannot avoid.

The production at the Eugene O'Neill follows the show's Off-Broadway precedent of placing audience members in a limited number of on-stage seats. Observers say the idea of putting the public on stage (in seating that flanks the action) underlines the musical's idea of the watchfulness of the community in the anxious musical drama about teenagers fumbling into adulthood. At Broadway's O'Neill, 25 seats priced at $31.25 will put playgoers in the heart of the experience (although there is no physical audience participation).

The creative team also features choreographer Bill T. Jones, costume designer Susan Hilferty, set designer Christine Jones and lighting designer Kevin Adams.

Decca will release the musical’s original Broadway cast recording on Dec. 12.

The Eugene O'Neill Theatre is at 230 W. 49th Street. Tickets are available through Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 or online at www.springawakening.com.