‘Spring Awakening’ opens with sold-out weekend

Musical Theatre Repertory’s “Spring Awakening” opened at Massman Theater on Thursday. The Tony Award-winning musical will run through Jan. 20. (Photo courtesy of Austin Dalgleish)

Musical Theatre Repertory’s newest production of “Spring Awakening” will be the third iteration to take place at Massman Theater, but cast members say it won’t be anything like its predecessors. The production opened Thursday and is the second show in MTR’s 14th season of student-produced musicals.

The original Broadway show took home a slew of Tony Awards in 2007, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book and Best Direction, among others. The cast and crew of MTR’s production know how popular the musical is but hope the audience will learn something new this time around.

“I’m excited for people to see it through a lens that is untainted by the original Broadway production,” said Tyler Ellis, who plays Hanschen, one of the main characters.

“Spring Awakening” is based on an 1891 German play of the same name, telling the story of teenagers who discover their sexual identities as they fight against their oppressive parents in the angstiest way possible — through pop-rock songs.

The show features a score by Duncan Sheik and a contrasting script by Steven Sater, written in the style of the original play. “Spring Awakening” has been reproduced in theatres around the world, and Deaf West Theatre even produced a revival of the musical in 2015 that was the first Broadway production to provide deaf-blind interpretation.

The show’s director, Sarah Hahm, had previously never watched a production of the musical. Hahm said she didn’t know the musical even existed until she was in high school in South Korea.

“I missed that whole fad because I had moved out of the country,” said Hahm, a senior majoring in theatre.

She said her experience growing up in a religious family provided a strong context for her to direct the show, which she hopes will make audience members nostalgic for their childhoods.

“It had been enough time away from my youth that I could still be in touch with it but reflect on it at the same time,” Hahm said.

But it wasn’t just Hahm’s childhood that helped bring her vision to life. Her boyfriend Jordan Fox, who is both the technical director and set designer for the production, supported her as well.

“Because we were a couple, we talk about [the show] a lot,” said Fox, a sophomore majoring in technical direction. “The major issue with designers and directors is that they both speak different languages, they both have their different visions.”

Fox said that when he applied to be set designer, his draft for the production was almost identical to Hahm’s, even though they had never discussed their vision as a pair. Fox and Hahm said their vision for the show was rooted in religion, one of the show’s primary themes.  

At the final dress rehearsal for “Spring Awakening,” Fox said the show made him emotional, a rare feat for a production.

“I’ve never cried at a production, except for tonight,” Fox said. “The composition just really hit home and touched my heart.”

“Spring Awakening” will run through Jan. 20. Tickets are sold out, but the Musical Theatre Repertory encourages students to stand by for admission at each show.