Producer Explains Why He Is Reviving Spring Awakening

News   Producer Explains Why He Is Reviving Spring Awakening
Ken Davenport, Broadway producer and blogger, is going out on a limb, producing a commercial limited engagement of a full-scale Broadway musical, Spring Awakening, this fall.

He is transferring, virtually intact, a West Coast production that was originated by Deaf West Theatre, a troupe that uses a mix of hearing, deaf and hard-of-hearing actors to perform shows, including the 2003 Tony-nominated revival Big River.

In his blog, The Producer's Perspective, he explained why he's taking the gamble on the show, which closed only six years ago.

He wrote, "I always felt like the show left us a bit too soon for a Tony Award-winning Best Musical, having closed in January, 2009 (can you say 'financial crisis'?)." But he went on to say why he was attracted to this production in particular.
Photo by Kevin Parry

The following excerpt is used by permission from Ken Davenport:

The lights went down . . . and I heard those opening aching Duncan Sheik strains of “Mama Who Bore Me” as the character of Wendla stepped forward to sing. And then she didn’t.

Instead, she signed those heartbreaking Steven Sater lyrics, as another actress sang them from the darkness, like we were hearing the private and deep desires of a young woman that no one else could hear.

It was chilling.

And in those seven seconds I realized that there was no other show that better served Deaf West’s unique form of expression than Spring Awakening.

See, I’ve always thought that Spring was about a group of kids who no one would listen to . . . as is if they had no voice. No matter what they said, or did, they just weren’t heard. By anyone.

Now . . . for a moment, imagine that story told through song and sign . . . by a cast that includes deaf and hard of hearing performers.

For the the next two hours and fifteen minutes, I was taken on this wonderful journey, re-experiencing a show that I thought I knew so well. It was like reading a book that I had read several times before, but this time . . . it had larger print. The themes were richer. The subtleties more apparent. And I was able to experience it in a way that I had never imagined, thanks to the nuanced hand of actor-soon-to-be-sought-after-director Michael Arden (yeah, that Michael Arden, who you’ve had a talent crush on ever since his Bare days). And if Michael’s work wasn’t enough, there was Spencer Liff’s choreography, which seemed to be a language of its own, communicating so much, with so little."

And so, he concluded, "I’m moving it to Broadway."

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