Theater Review | ‘Spring Awakening’
From abuse to sexuality to pregnancy to suicide, Nearly Naked Theatre and Phoenix Theatre’s Spring Awakening magnifies a thousandfold the most dramatic of controversial issues a child may face, all set to the tempo of rock.
Our story begins when Wendla, played by Katrin Murdock, begs her mother to explain to her the birds and the bees. Her mother, played by Susan St. John, promptly refuses and lends way to the musical’s first number, Mama Who Bore Me. This song explores why the mother who gives birth to the child cannot explain to the child how it was created, and the female ensemble made this an excellent entrance to the show.
The talents of our hero and heroine, played by Cooper Halstrom and Murdock, respectively, cannot be expressed by a mere theater review. What begins as a shy acquaintance elevates to the levels of Romeo and Juliet, and the drama they advance to is of the most professional caliber in every respect. Their performance truly begs the question: Can Nearly Naked Theatre and Phoenix Theatre do no wrong?
The most stellar performance of the night came from none other than Alexandra Ncube, who plays Martha. If eyes are the window to the soul, Ncube’s are the most sincere throughout. Specifically, the remorse felt by the audience during The Dark I Know Well is not easily accomplished and expertly performed by Ncube and Cassie Chilton.
When carrot-top Matthew Cordon made his appearance on stage, it wasn’t hard to imagine he had already played Mark Cohen from Rent, as mentioned in his bio, and his flexibility between shy and angry rock star seemed to fit that theme well. While I wished there was more of a contrast at the beginning, I still left the theater a fan of his performance.
Like Robin Williams in Midsummer, The audience can’t seem to pull their attention from Evan Tyler Wilson. Whether waving his arms in the background, or rocking out up front, Wilson’s character is always over-the-top and entertaining. I’ve seen him before at Phoenix Theatre’s Gypsy, and his performance had the same effect. I’ll definitely be looking for more prominent parts from Wilson in the future.
The ensemble in this show is frankly brilliant. They even outshine the leads in portions of the show in the best ways possible. What was overwhelmingly noticeable was the casting choices made by Nearly Naked Theatre and Phoenix Theatre. The main cast members seemed more in control, yet delicate in their delivery. They were rivaled by the ensemble’s unbridled vocal strength in this respect.
Whether you have never heard of Phoenix Theatre, can’t find something to do this weekend, or are lifelong fan of musical theater, this is the stellar performance we expect from a show this late into the season. Moving, dramatic, and exciting at the same time, Nearly Naked Theatre and Phoenix Theatre’s Spring Awakening is not to be missed.
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