Theater Review: SPRING AWAKENING IN CONCERT (Ray Of Light Theater)

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by Chuck Louden on June 12, 2023

in Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area


This past weekend, San Franciscans were treated to a special treat with Ray Of Light Theater’s version of Spring Awakening — yet while it was subtitled “In Concert,” performers had parts memorized and the lighting by Weili Shi was Broadway caliber. My only disappointment with this production is its short run. I would have liked all my Bay Area theater friends to have had the opportunity to see this. Based upon the ahead-of-its-time 1892 German play by Frank Wedekind, the show deals with teenagers in a provincial town in the 1890s discovering their sexuality against the morality of the day. The play also deals with homosexuality, teen pregnancy and domestic violence.

With book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, the musical debuted on Broadway in the early 2000s, launching the careers of Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff. Ray of Light’s production — solidly directed by Eliza Leoni — begins with a Matt Owens‘ one-room schoolhouse design set-up. The actors are seated and lit, speaking their dialogue much as in Our Town. Jill Jacobs‘ choreography interrupts the dialogue with both the female and male students breaking into song and dance to let the audience know about their day to day plight in their repressed culture. All the young actors are both fine singers as well as actors. Standouts include the leads: Becky Allen as Wendila, Seth Hanson as her suitor, the too smart for his own good Melchoir ,and of course Matt Herrero as the tortured Moritz. Andy Collins plays all the adult male roles and Ray Of Light Theater veteran Jessica Coker stands out in all her adult female roles throughout the show.

photos courtesy of Ray of Light Theatre

Spring Awakening
Ray of Light Theatre
Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th Street (between Mission and Capp)
played June 8-11, 2023
for future shows, visit ROLT

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