Rock musical ‘Spring Awakening’ to ring in April events at Sweet Briar

Sweet Briar College’s Division of Performing Arts will present a concert musical production of “Spring Awakening” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2, in Murchison Lane Auditorium at the Babcock Fine Arts Center.

Spring Awakening posterBased on the 1891 German play by Frank Wedekind, “Spring Awakening” first premiered in its musical form — with music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater — on Broadway in 2006, a production that went on to win eight Tony Awards. The plot is set in late-19th-century Germany and revolves around a group of teenagers who discover the sometimes-dramatic ups and downs of sexuality.

Sweet Briar’s production comes on the heels of two fully produced theater performances at the College this academic year — “August: Osage County” in February and “Twelfth Night” in October.

“[Our] theater department has a rotation of different kinds of plays and musicals over a four-year period to ensure that students are exposed to as many different periods and styles as possible during their time here,” said assistant professor and director Melora Kordos. “Last year was the fully staged musical year, and this year was a Shakespeare and contemporary-play year, which lets us do a concert version of a musical in addition to the full productions.”

“Spring Awakening” is perfect for that format, Kordos adds, because its original conception had “practically no set.” Sweet Briar’s version will still include the entire script, complete with lighting and actors in full costume, and all songs will be performed memorized. The only significant difference to a staged musical is that the dialogue will be read from music stands. Performing the show in this way, says Kordos, allows her to cut rehearsals from the normal six to eight weeks to just two weeks.

“The orchestration of the show is really great — since it’s a rock musical, it’s more of a rock-band-type pit versus full orchestra, so the five to six musicians will be on stage with the actors the whole show.”

But the musical wasn’t chosen exclusively for its adaptable format.

“When we started talking about shows for this slot, ‘Spring Awakening’ was one of the first that we thought about because of its freshness and how connected students feel to the piece,” Kordos said. “This speaks to any young person and deals with coming of age at a time when sex talks were rare and teenagers had to struggle to understand and navigate the tumultuous world of hormones, sexuality, abuse and family approval.”

Admission for non-SBC patrons is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for non-SBC students, and free for SBC community members. The April 1 performance is free for all non-SBC students and teachers. Please note that this performance is not suitable for children. To purchase tickets, visit brownpapertickets.com or call the box office at (434) 381-6120.