Spring Awakening's Best and Worst High School Memories — Learning "I Am Gay," Getting Suspended and More

News   Spring Awakening's Best and Worst High School Memories — Learning "I Am Gay," Getting Suspended and More
It's back-to-school month for the cast of Broadway's Spring Awakening, who revisit the classrooms of 19th-century Germany when the revival officially opens Sept. 27, so we take a trip down memory lane with the company.

Members of the cast and creative team share their best and/or worst memories from high school. Read them all below!

Michael Arden (director)
I have really good memories from high school, I've got to say. One of my best memories is when I came in for my first day of ninth grade. My English teacher Shelley Hickman asked us to all sit down and write about what we learned about ourselves that summer, and I sat down and I wrote, "I learned this summer that I am gay." She read it, and she came to me later on in the day in the hallway and said, "Just so you know, you are loved, and you always have a place and an ally here in this school." And, the fact that I could be accepted in school — I think that set me off for a great time in high school.

Michael Arden
Michael Arden Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Austin McKenzie (Melchior)
For me, my best memory of high school was when I worked at a summer camp for children and adults with special needs, and that's always been something that I've cherished.

Austin McKenzie and cast
Austin McKenzie and cast Photo by Joan Marcus

Sandra Mae Frank (Wendla)
I went to Kentucky School for the Deaf, and my best memories are being involved with the Junior National Association for the Deaf. It's a conference for young Deaf adults, and I was involved in the leadership camp there — it was a leadership camp for Deaf youth — and their experiences and my experience in being involved in that made me who I am today.

Sandra Mae Frank
Sandra Mae Frank Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

My worst memory in high school… Sometimes, we couldn't understand how an interpreter works and how Deaf privilege works, and sometimes they would make me sit in the front, and I would say, "No I'm going to sit in the back," and the interpreter wouldn't sign until I sat in the front. So I was like, "Give me your hands, you've got to be kidding me! I don't want to sit in the front." That was one of my worst memories.

Daniel Durant (Moritz)
I think my best memory was going to a school for the Deaf and being on the sports team and traveling and meeting other Deaf athletes all around the U.S. I got so much exposure and so many experiences and made so many friends out of that.

Daniel Durant
Daniel Durant Photo by Joan Marcus

Spencer Liff (choreographer)
I'm a little different because I was a kid actor, so I was homeschooled. I spent my entire school on a set or with other kids I was working with and graduated high school when I was 15, so I have no good stories for you because I did school in my pajamas in my living room every day… Watching "The Price is Right" and having my mom make little croissant egg sandwiches for me every morning!

Spencer Liff
Spencer Liff Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Patrick Page (Adult Men)
They might be the same. The whole thing was so anxiety filled for me that I would just count the whole high school experience — the whole experience of growing up in a small town — and just feeling a little out of place.

Patrick Page
Patrick Page Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Russell Harvard (Adult Men)
For me, in high school, I just remember trying to be myself. I went to a school for the Deaf, and so it was so easy for me there. I just could be myself; the only problem was my parents. It was just hard to deal with my parents. They wanted to be so involved, and at that time it was a period of angst for me.

Russell Harvard
Russell Harvard Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Andy Mientus (Hanschen)
Oh God… My first crush…I was in love with my best friend. Her name was Beth — hi, Beth! I wrote her a love letter, and she came over to my house one day — we were best friends from like diapers — and I wrote poems in the love letter, poems! [Laughs.] I concealed it in her satchel after gymnastics… I put it in her little bag and sent her away with it, which I can't believe I had the gall to do. Knowing myself then and now, I can't believe I had the courage to do it. And then she called me, and we had this really horrible phone conversation where she's like, "Yeah, I don't…you're my friend, we're friends." And then we couldn't sit together at lunch anymore because it got weird. It was a really dark time. I came out of it, so all is well. Take that, Beth!

Andy Mientus
Andy Mientus Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Krysta Rodriguez (Ilse)
I went to a performing arts high school, and I was in eighth grade auditioning for the musical theatre program, and I did not get accepted. That was like life-ending at that age — to be like, "This is what I'm going to do for my job, my career," and then to be, out the gate, just cut down. So that was really a horrible thing, but I ended up going into the school anyway and working in the production and design department. I worked in tech; I built all the sets for all the musicals that year, and I ran spotlight, which I do in this show. It was my first sort of experience of: you've got to keep going [and] perseverance. But, it was really hard at the time. Definite tears.

Krysta Rodriguez
Krysta Rodriguez Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Alex Boniello (voice of Moritz)
I mean, being a teenager was great. High school is kind of lame. I think you find most of yourself in college and that one year after college, but high school lays the foundation of it. So, I think starting to figure out the kind of person you think you are or want to be is important, so that'd be a good thing.

Daniel Durant and Alex Boniello
Daniel Durant and Alex Boniello Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Katie Boeck (voice of Wendla)
I just couldn't wait to get out of high school, to be honest. I was ready to go. I had a great time, and I was really involved in drama and stuff, but I was a lot like [the character] I am in this show. I sort of floated between, and nothing's changed. I think the oppression that these kids are feeling hasn't really changed over the years. I think the idea of teen angst is something that everyone can relate to because if you've made it to adulthood, you've made it through being a teenager. I think the teen angst is just heightened in this show because these characters are coming from a really deep need to be heard. And, I think everyone as a teenager feels that way.

Katie Boeck and Sandra Mae Frank
Katie Boeck and Sandra Mae Frank Photo by Joan Marcus

Steven Sater (book and lyrics)
I hated high school. I'll tell you a story… The second national tour of Spring Awakening opened in Evansville, Indiana, which is my hometown. I went back, and I hadn't been there in a long time, so it was all these people I went to high school with… I was bullied and, you know, the thespian… I was that kid in high school. I came in, and people were asking for my autograph and reaching across the aisle, standing up, and I was sitting watching the show, and I thought, "Oh sh*t, this is why I wrote the play because I was so miserable here." You know what I mean? My friends, who see the show, always think I'm Moritz. Although I was a great student, I floundered.

Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater
Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Marlee Matlin (Adult Women)
I have a lot of great memories of high school and some horrible ones. I got in trouble for smoking pot, and I got in trouble for ditching class for smoking pot and smoking more pot. I had a good time in high school, and it's all great memories… All great memories, just all a long time ago… By the way I want to make it clear I have been sober for 28 years. Just had to put that out there.

Marlee Matlin
Marlee Matlin Photo by Joan Marcus

Camryn Manheim (Adult Women)
I'm going to say: same. I copied that experience, plus I got suspended many times. Thankfully, my parents were Jewish intellectuals, very open-minded and we're still talking. High school was…I learned a lot.

Camryn Manheim
Camryn Manheim Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
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