Spring Awakening review follows the news

Theatre News
March 7th, 2009

The Baltimore Theatre Alliance held their latest Cabaret at the Spotlighters Theatre last Sunday night. Hosts Fuzz and Elania offered a lobby reception at 6pm with tasty goodies and a cash bar. The show began at 6:30 with musical numbers by Loch Raven HS production of Cinderella and the Spotlighter’s upcoming production of Sweeney Todd. Various soloists rounded out the cast with an eclectic selection of showtunes.

The entire evening only cost $15.00 and the proceeds go to BTA. It’s a great evening of entertainment and networking. Meeting old and new friends who are all theatre oriented people.

Michael Tan handled the musical duties and gave a heart-felt speech at the end of the
show explaining why it was a joy to work with these new talents.

The next Cabaret is Sunday May 3rd at Spotlighters at 6pm. Tickets can be purchased in
advance on their website which I highly recommend. You don’t want to miss it.

The BIGGEST news this week is the unofficial announcement of the 2009-2010 season for the Hippodrome Theatre. Currently signed are engagements of the National touring companies of- ‘In the Heights’ the 2009 Tony award-winner for Best Musical and the very entertaining, ‘Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein’. There will also be a sit-down (more than two weeks) of- ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. These are just the confirmed show with several more yet to be announced. However I know the smash hit‘ Jersey Boys’ is not coming to town anytime soon, but the rumors are still flying about a long run at the National Theatre in DC. Other possibilities that I have seen announced for the road include- August: Osage County, Disney’s Mary Poppins (see next item below), Curtains (but looking for a star name to tour), Xanadu, Dirty Dancing and WICKED is now repeating cities it has already played.

The Kennedy Center has announced their official 2009-2010 schedule of the shows playing the venue. (Just remember they charge Broadway rate ticket prices and service charges)

October – The Sydney Theatre Company’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire
starring Cate Blanchett as Blanche DuBois.

Nov/Dec – August: Osage County

Dec/Jan – Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein

March/April – Terrence McNally’s “Nights at the Opera” Festival
– Master Class
– The Lisbon Traviata
– Golden Age (premiere)
June 2010 – Thurgood

July 2010 – Mary Poppins

Kennedy Center Spotlight Concert Series:

Oct 9 – Cheyenne Jackson
Nov 14 – Christine Ebersole
Dec 12 – Karen Akers
Apr 30 – Daniel Evans & Jenna Russell (Sunday in the Park with George stars)
Jun 4 – Jessica Molaskey & John Pizzarelli

Shortly we will be running a contest on the website to win tickets to see-
Lily Tomlin
The Russian tour of Swan Lake
Chicago with Tom Wopat
all at the Lyric Theatre.
They will be soon be announcing the return to Baltimore of big musical for a 4 week engagement plus other shows at the Lyric. You will read it here first!!!!

Information on how to enter the contest to win tickets will be on the website next week.

The Greenbelt Arts Center will open the popular drama, Amadeus, with a run from March 13th until April 4. Their phone number is 301-441-8770 and the locations is 123 Centerway in Greenbelt.

Olney Theatre Center is presenting the area premiere of an original play by
Mark Twain, ‘Is He Dead? now until March 8th. =============================================

CCBC presents Lynn Nottage’s Las Meninas, March 19-23 at the theatre center at Essex Community College. 443-840-ARTS

AMADEUS opens at the Greenbelt Arts Center March 13 for a run thru April 4th.

Arena Stage in DC is presenting a star-studded production of Edward Albee’s- ‘A Delicate Balance’ until March 15th. The pivotal roles are played by two original cast members from the Broadway production of ‘Angels in America,’ Kathleen Chalfant and Ellen McLaughlin. To obtain tickets for this 1967 Pulitzer Prize winning play are available at:www.arenastage.org or 1-202-488-3300

Signature Theatre in Arlington has extended their production of, ‘The Little Dog Laughed’ until March 15th. Tickets: http://www.signature-theatre.org. See the review on this website.

The Vags has a new production of Harold Pinter’s- ‘Old Times’ which runs from 2/27 – 3/29

Toby’s Dinner Theatres:Baltimore-
‘Sophisticated Ladies’ until March 15th (‘Disney’s Beauty & Beast’ next)
Columbia- ‘High School Musical’ & ‘My Way’ in repertory.

The Hippodrome has a busy couple of months ahead with the following shows-
Riverdance – 3/10 – 15
Celetic Woman- 3/17 & 18
CATS- 3/24 – 29
A Bronx Tale- 4/14 – 26 (starring ChazPalminteri)

Warner Theatre in DC-
Jesus Christ Superstar- 3/17-22 (Starring Teddy Neely)
RENT- 5/26-31 (Starring Adam Pascal & Anthony Rapp)

National Theatre in DC-
A Chorus Line – 3/10 – 3/22
Chicago – 3/31 – 4/12

Bethesda Theatre-
Forbidden Broadway – beginning 3/12
Menopause: TheMusical – beginning 4/14

To submit theatre news email: stagesbaltimore@aol.com
(list web news as the subject)

Spring Awakening, Caught with its Pants Down.
By Ben Ryland

The original 1890’s play, Spring Awakening, by Frank Wedekind (translation: Jonathan Franzen) is currently being performed by the Mobtown Players at Clipper Mill. This is the original work that the recent award-winning musical was based on. I have seen neither before and what I have seen from the musical and its score was not that impressive. Staging can be everything but since the show is not still running after only a couple of years (compared to RENT) I am still left wondering about its youthful appeal.

Maybe it is merely the sexually explicit scenes of masturbation and circle jerks, or for the most depraved among, us the young teen age rape sequence. God help me to understand but I just don’t get it. And I was a teenager once.

Having school boys with Rhodes Scholar vocabularies, the repressed mentality of the adults and an unexplained not of this earth ringer thrown in at the finale was lost on me. The term Moral Order is thrown about by all concerned in this German based story which is an unintentional (?) precursor of the atrocities of the early to middle last century of hatred and violence that was demonstrated by the same factions.

If Spring Awakening is supposed to be a primer on budding adolescent merging sexuality we are all in trouble and the tragedies of last century becomes more comprehensible from start to finish. Unfortunately the popularity of the musical with young people once again demonstrates we have once again learned nothing from the lessons of the past.

Moritz and Melchior are best friends in an expensive prep school along with a large cast of equally underachieving students. They speak in pompous prose in a style that in addition to being completely unrealistic is misleading disguised as sophisticated. They are just a bunch horny school boys trying to justify their actions much like the protagonists of Lindsay Anderson’s cult favorite film of the 1960’s- ‘if…’ So similar in fact that the resultant death and destruction are in much the same vein if not in exact execution.

You are aware that this is a heavy, edgy show by oblivious hints. With minimal staging, the actors speaking often in the dark, and the pretentious staging- Damn it you must know this is an important work. So important that is has been totally forgotten from the classical cannon of drama until the musical appeared. What can be more pretentious than that? Oh yes, I know: it was banned from production after being written for many years so it has to be ground breaking and truthfully provocative!


Using actors from the Carver High School acting program makes it even more so since most adults in the audience seemed to be shocked at what these budding adults, just past puberty, were portraying onstage. The adult’s response was almost like being caught by a coworker at a porno theatre in the 70’s by attending this show. The actors friends in the audience even tittered at many of the sexual high-jinks mimed onstage much like Jack McFarland’s reactions (in televisions ‘Will and Grace’) whenever someone innocently mentions balls or heinous.

Josh Kemper is intense as Melchior and is an actor to watch in the future. His counterpart Chris Magorian as Moritz is less effective in his pivotal role rushing through his incomprehensible dialog-at a break neck speed. As he continually questions the metaphysical qualities in life and customs he looses the audience because of his inarticulation. The splendid Melanie Glickman as Wendla fulfills her role of the sexually uninformed female but trying to keep up with the boy’s part of the sexual equation. Women are beaten, and expect it in this society so sexual and emotion repression can only manifest its worse in them. Wendla’s mother even allows a butcher to botch an abortion that kills her raped 14 year old daughter.

What seems to be the inspiration of the oft-mentioned conceptual visionary of this production, the late Terry Long, is that old dramatic standby- MORE is less. Done in a more chamber style staging this Spring Awakening might be more humanistic and approachable. At a running time of three hours and 15 minutes is very similar to Les Miz in performance but without the laughs.

Spring Awakening – Mobtown Players at Clipper Mill
This Friday and Saturday