Review: Showstopper’s Spring Awakening

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A dark, coming-of-age play in the form of Spring Awakening is Showstopper’s latest show, and the society is certainly on top form.

Following a group of teenagers in mid-19th century Germany as they begin to explore their sexuality and deal with the emotional turmoil of adolescence, the plotline perfectly combines humour, poignant moments and racy scenes. Based on the play by Frank Wedekind and originally banned in Germany due to the sexual nature of the play, this is certainly not one for the faint hearted, but it does approach some important issues surrounding sexuality, child abuse and suicide.

The music was slightly bitty in places – a fault of the writing, not the performance – but did contain some memorable numbers, like “Totally Fucked” and “The Song of Purple Summer”. The rock-style music was well played by the orchestra under the expert instruction of conductor Daniella Gambier, and musical director Alex ‘Teddy’ Clements. However, jeans and chewing gum in the orchestra area marred their otherwise excellent performance.

The singing was good, and everyone was well cast, especially the male chorus, who played their roles to perfection, and had the audience in stitches. Their mature approach to the issues displayed should also be credited. However, at times, it was impossible to hear the cast, despite them being miked, but when the projection was good some very talented singers could be heard. The angelic voice of Charissa Foster (Ilse) was beautiful, and she had stunning stage presence. The duet of Toby Hasler-Winter and Sam Dockree was also perfect and revealed two very good singers and actors. Mark Hill and Stephanie Amies both did exceptionally at playing the adult roles, and switched perfectly between the characters with good feeling for each character they were acting.

What stood out for me the most was the dancing, with excellent choreography by Alex Elton, winner of a Daily Echo Curtain Call Award for his previous routines. The cast all danced very well, although they do need to watch their timing in some of the songs to ensure that they dance as a unit and not individuals. Staging was perfect, with good use of the available space, and the raised platforms added some interesting dimensions. Although simple, the set was well designed and adequate, with some inventive props employed at times which really helped being the performance to life. Costumes were perfect, with the school uniforms adding excellent effect.

Spring Awakening is running at the Annex until 5th May, with tickets priced at £8.50 for adults, £6.50 for students and £5 for PA members. An excellent performance, and one that should not be missed.

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