Spring Awakening – The Girls

After that wonderful interview with the Boys of Spring Awakening, are you ready for some more gender segregated hard-hitting journalism fromInside Cabaret?

Too bad, you're getting it anyway.

Inside Cabaret:  Who is your Favorite President of the United States of America?

Nick: franklin pierce

Jenna: Taft OF COURSE

Will: Gotta go with family: JFK. And he got with Marilyn Monroe.

Alex: Anyone who’s not Bush. Well, Daddy Bush was alright.

Jordon: Lincoln

Tyler: Richard Nixon

Amanda: Lincoln

Francesca: Kennedy

Lauren: Alexander Hamilton & Ben Franklin are my favorite people. I know they’re not presidents, but they should have been.

Marc: James Polk.

Meg: TAFT, it’s gotta be Taft

Joey: Millard. Fillmore. Period.

President William Howard Taft riding a Carabao

Enough ridiculosity! Let’s get on with the interviews! Read on, fellow Cabbies, for a revealing expose with the lovely ladies ofSpring Awakening!!!

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Inside Cabaret: According to popular (mis)conception, Spring Awakening is a boys show. Why are the girls such an integral part of the show?

Meg: I remember telling people that guys are much cooler, but the girls bring the truth of the time. We are the naïve ones, we are the ones that are preparing to have babies. The only thing we talk about is dreaming about boys. It’s stripped down to what we were allowed to think about. This is written by a man, so a lot of the girl’s points of views—there’s not a lot of depth. So I think for us, for our cast of girls, we make the female roles important. And rock and roll.

Amanda: The show is not only about sexuality, it’s about the discovery of others. It’s the reciprocity, the give and the take. You can’t do that with just one sex. It happens with a group. By the time it gets to “Song of Purple Summer,” you see how inclusive this show is. To say it’s a boy’s show is to say that it is sexually exclusive; that’s not what this show is about at all.

Alex: You can’t have a love story in this time period if girls aren’t involved. And that’s what makes some of the stories in the show so interesting. I think that the boys bring power to the show, but the girls ground it.

The girls. Adorbs.

IC: This is both your first and last show at Cabaret. What took you so long? And how has it been?

Francesca: I didn’t know about any theatre until Sophomore year. I tried out for two shows (Streetcar & How I learned 2 Drive) here and didn’t get in, but finally I got into Spring Awakening!

IC: And how has the process been?

Francesca: Amazing, I knew I’d love it here! I’ve talked to a lot of people about the Cabaret experience, and it just seemed like a cool place to work.

I love the space; I think it’s beautiful. It has a lot of potential. The people that work here are extremely passionate. The show’s are typically pretty good, too.

IC:  Amanda, what was the hardest part about this show for you? How did you overcome the challenge?

Amanda: Allowing myself to be very free. I almost had to…not necessarily dismiss what I’ve grown up with, but mature during the show. And that was hard because I had to make myself very vulnerable. I had to share myself with people.

Amanda "Mama" Padro letting go.

IC: Meg, speaking as the Music Director at WRSU, why is the music in Spring Awakening so effective?

Meg: I mean, think lyrically. It’s easy to relate to. Especially for our generation.

IC: Why is that?

Meg: Because of the issues at hand. There’s that teen angst in there. When we’re getting ready downstairs, I was like “We need to listen to Green Day.”

IC: What was playing downstairs?

Meg: What the f**k were they playing? Probably some Beyonce or some top 40 thing.

But over all it’s just beautiful. Also, when you hear that rock and roll guy is writing musical theatre music, I personally cringe. However, there are so many legit rock and roll moments in this score, but when it’s not rock and roll, it’s beautiful and genuine.

The girls rehearsing "Mama Who Bore Me." Meg Gillan adding a bit of Grunge flannel to the mix.

IC: Lauren, what’s your favorite moment in the play as an actor? As an audience member?

Lauren: As an actor: “Whispering.” The transition that happens. Wendla completes her journey in that song. So as an actor, I get to build that journey inside of the song. And craft it and layer it very carefully.

As an audience member: I love watching everything. I’m trying to think of something little, because there are so many great moments. This isn’t actually in the show; it’s offstage. Before “Totally F**ked,” Will is behind Jordon, ready to enter, and Will is rocking out headbanging with his huge hair, and only the audience on the one side can see him. It’s this hidden moment that only a few people see.

IC: Alex, you’re like a singer-songwriter IRL; how did you challenge the other components of your performance as Ilse?

Alex: I don’t coin myself as an actress at all. I’ve never felt confident at all in that regard, but I think that through BARE I learned to let go of everything, and I think that this show helped me extend that. I thought of every high as balls hippie that I’ve ever met.

IC: Have you met a lot of hippies?

Alex:Yes. My mom was a hippie at Rutgers in 1977. My first tour of Rutgers I went around with my mom who told me about the apartments she got high and where she did horrible things. And I had a lot of friends in high school who thought that being a hippie meant just getting “high.” So, if you count those kids, too…

HIPPIE!

IC: Jenna, how did you perfect your slapping skills?

Jenna: Lauren’s face looked more supple to me each night and I just got soooo angry. We also share a good cheek to hand ratio. It just fit.

IC: Why are the adult figures so vital to this show?

Jenna:  I was thinking that the other day. (Editor’s note: It’s a good thing I asked.) They’re a mixture between caricature and real, but yet they’re so different from the children. It’s important to have that perspective in the show, the other side of the question about puberty and maturity and growing up.

IC: You really triple threat it out in this show: dancing, singing, acting really hard. What have you learned about yourself as a performer?

Jenna: I’ve gotten a lot more confident in my physicality and dancing. I think this is really due to [choreographer] Sarah Lifson and Farnaz. I’ve never felt so comfortable dancing and in my own body as I have been in this show. I’ve never felt so empowered by it. With the right kind of atmosphere and coaching, I can dance if I want to.

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So that’s it. The boys and girls of Spring Awakeninginterviewed by Inside Cabaret for your reading pleasure.

And for your viewing pleasure:

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Spring Awakening – The Boys

Spring Awakening weekend #2 is upon is! Tonight, the cast endeavors to perform at 8 pmAND at midnight! That’s like 6 straight hours of dancing, singing, and acting really hard!

Meanwhile, Inside Cabaret sat down with the entire cast of Spring Awakening and asked some real hardball questions. Here’s a sample:

Inside Cabaret: What is your least favorite color?

Nick: Yellow

Jenna: Olive

Will: F**K… I like them all!

Alex: Brown

Jordon: Purple

Tyler: Orange

Amanda: Murky Yellow

Francesca: Orange

Lauren: I like all colors! Except pea green.

Marc: Sherbet. Orange Sherbet.

Meg: PINK

Joey: Salmon. Definitely Salmon. And green. I hate green.

The Boys.

Real heavy stuff, right? Just kidding. We here at Inside Cabaret have something called “journalistic integrity.” The actual interview with the cast will be split into two parts. The first part–an interview with the illustrious boy members of the cast–can be found below!

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Inside Cabaret: What drew you to Spring Awakening? What experience with SA before, and how does this compare?

Will: It came out at a time when it really applied to my life. Not in any—not that I related to any of the events, but I did relate to the pressure of the world. That’s like the driving force between the show. This is like, the last stand, the final frontier before being thrust into the world. We’ve been trained to be graded for so long, and we’ll only be graded on what we do now.

Will Carey, pre-amber-waves-of-grain hairstyle. Circa 2009. Still Rock & Roll.

IC:You saw it on Broadway? How has doing the show compared?

Will: Yeah, I saw it sitting next to my mom. This show is so much more than what the original production was. The emotions are raw and easily accessible in any. We could do this outside and it’d be the perfect thing. We’re right there, in the audience’s face, telling them this story.

IC: Nick, you were doing BARE with the Livingston Theatre Company when the process started. How did you make the jump between shows?

Nick: It was very easy for me because of the people I was working with. The cast and the pro staff are full of people that I love—People that I’m already comfortable with. So I had no problems trying things out and jumping into the characters.

IC:I imagine part of that is because of director Farnaz Mansouri. You’ve worked with her before. How has this one compared?

Nick: Yeah, working with Farnaz was a big part of that. Especially the way she conveys her ideas; they’re very complete and full. And because it’s her second show, she’s knocked a lot of the kinds out. It’s been a great experience.

Nick Cartusciello acting.

IC: Marc, this is your 4th show with Cabaret this year. How is this one different?

Marc: Spring Awakening is so different in that it’s such a story – it has such a narrative. It’s the first show that I’ve done in which the large cast has to work together. Working with a legitimate ensemble, it’s such a different dynamic.

IC: How has the process been different?

Marc: This time, I definitely focused on creating a sense of style about how I did everything –singing, crafting, moving, dancing, emotional expression – this show was very stylized in that sense.

"Style."

IC: How have you improved as a performer?

Marc: I’ve gotten worse and worse, because I’ve gotten more and more egotistical.

(::Laughs from the belly::)

No, I think that this season has allowed me to grow so much because of the variety in each show and each process. Each show has allowed me to take something and bring it to the next show. For example, for the Revue, I figured out how to work an audience, with Elegies, it was building a show from the ground up with a cast of actors, which played directly into HIL2D, which was more about crafting and physicality, which in turn plays into that style I was talking about before. Being aware of controlling all of those skills and facets was so different and so powerful. Was that confusing?

(Editor’s note: No.)

IC: Joey, Between directing two musicals and the managing director position in the past, you have done a lot of varied work at Cabaret Theatre. What is it like coming back to be an actor after having spent much of your undergraduate years working off stage?

Joey: It’s been exciting. The last time I performed on-stage in-role for Cabaret was Eurydice, which was September 2009. That’s like almost 3 years ago. I’ve spent most of my time telling people how to act and move, so coming back and trying to do it myself was a nice change of pace.

IC: Given your previous positions and the fact that you’re older than everyone else, do you see yourself as a mentor to the cast in any way?

Joey: First of all, I’m only one year older. The other day, Marc said I was the only person born in the 1980s in the cast, trying to make it seem like I was some dinosaur. I was born in ’89! In June! That’s like almost 1990!

Dramatic s**t.

Second of all, no, I don’t really see myself as a mentor, primarily because the members in this cast are so damn talented, regardless of age or number of shows. I had enough trouble doing the whole singing thing, so I looked to other cast members and prostaff members for help with that. Maybe they looked to me for acting or moving tips, but Farnaz and Co. did a great job of creating an environment in which we all mentored and supported each other, regardless of how old I might (not) be.

IC: Jordon, It’s your first show at Cabaret and at college. What’s in been like? How is it different from your past experiences?

Jordon: It’s been great! It’s different than high school because of the short time to do a show; instead of 3 months, you get 1 month. You’re told to do something, and you just have to work hard to get it done. In a lot of ways, it’s better.

IC: Why’s it better?

Jordon: Well, everyone has talent. Versus like in high school where a select few get showcased all the time. In college, you’re expected to come in knowing your s**t.

Chair Acting.

IC:What have you learned about yourself as a performer?

Jordon: About developing character. The whole show requires it. In high school, the shows are more airy and light-hearted. Here, it’s like “how can you contribute to this,” “what do you bring?” That was a great challenge for me.

IC: Finally, Tyler, why isSpring Awakeningso important and influential?

Tyler: Because it’s important to remember that no one is or can be perfect. And that the best we can be is honest.

IC: Why has this show been an important process for you?

Tyler: Because it requires constant vigilance of character.  As Hanschen, I’m constantly making sure he looks and appears perfect. I have to be on at all times; it’s really challenged me to become a better actor and performer.

Tyler and Nick being Rock Stars and stuff

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So there you have it, True Believers! An interview with the dashing dudes of Spring Awakening! Stay tuned for an interview with the ladies regarding such hot topics as rock and roll, sexuality, stage combat, and curly hair!

Also, you may have noticed that a certain boy–or rather, MAN–was missing from the interviews. His name is Boris Van Der Ree. He plays the Adult Male roles in the show. And he bounced from yesterday’s brush-up rehearsal before Inside Cabaret could ask him any question. Alas, we’ll just have to settle for this lovely picture of him:

Enjoy

Spring Awakening – An Interview with the Director

Finally! Inside Cabaret does something that it promised it was going to do! We’ve done it! We interviewed Cabbie-award winning Farnaz Mansouri about her experience directing Spring Awakening at Cabaret! Like we said we would!

Related: Farnaz has adopted this as her Facebook profile picture.

Somewhere between finishing her senior year at Rutgers and serving as Cabaret Theatre’s Artistic Director and being a bad b**ch, Farnaz “Yeah Daddy” Mansouri found the time to direct a critically-acclaimed-so-far production of Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater’s Tony-Award winning musical. Really: people love it! So reserve your spot on the waiting list for tickets, because all them hotcakes be gone!!!

No more hotcakes for Kitty cats.

So check out the interview below, in which we discuss sad things, fun things, boys, girls, cats, musicals, and puberty! And be sure to check out Spring Awakening at Cabaret Theatre this weekend! Last three (3) performances!

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Inside Cabaret: What was the best comment an audience member made last weekend?

Farnaz: I was overwhelmed by all the lovely things people said this weekend. [Cabaret Administrative Advisor] Matt Ferguson said some really lovely things about the production, which was amazing to hear.

The most touching comment hands down came from Dave Seamon, who said that watching the show felt like he was “watching a passion project movie”, and further continued saying not only how the show was injected with passion, but how alive each character was on stage. Those who know me know that I’m passionate about everything I do; the fact that this passion was able to resonate on stage, through each character, through the entire production, is something truly magical.

[Editor’s note: Check out Dave’s full review by clicking HERE!]

IC: And your parents? What did they say about the show?

Farnaz: My parents actually both really loved the show. They said they thought it was really beautiful, and my mom had really nice things to say about every person in the cast.

IC: Did she talk to them after the show?

Farnaz: My dad did! My mom is a little shy.

Shy Kitty.

IC: Your last directing position was on Streetcar Named Desire; how has this experience compared?

Farnaz: I went into Streetcar with no experience directing, so it was very much a learning experience for me. This time around, I went straight from being Artistic Director to director; and still, I found that it was just as much of a learning process. I had never worked on a musical before, so it was definitely challenging. In a great way.

IC: Why Spring Awakening? What was the thought process that went into proposing it and developing it?

Farnaz: To be completely honest, I wanted to direct Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at first. There were many reasons I changed my mine.  First off, Cabaret Theatre always ends the year with a big name musical, and I have always been intrigued by musicals. I thought, “why the f**k not?”  Musicals allows for a certain amount of freedom, a boundless amount of creativity, which is liberating yet terrifying at the same time.

Who's Afraid of Virg-- Wait. This s**t is bananas.

I chose Spring Awakening because I thought it would be extremely challenging for two reasons. One, it’s so extremely popular and everyone has a preconceived notion about the show already. I wanted to break this idea of what the show should be.  Second, the transition period from adolescence to adulthood that the characters face is something that we [as college students] are facing as well.

IC: What’s the most important thing you as a director try to focus on when putting together a show?

Farnaz: As a director, I make sure to keep the big picture in mind, while attending to all the small details at the same time. Keeping the end product in mind takes a indescribable amount of clarity and focus, while attention to every single detail takes an indescribable amount of patience, understanding, and willingness to collaborate.  Finding the balance between these two different roles is the primary focus of the director.

IC: How has your vision evolved since first proposing this show? What role does your pro staff and the actors play in that evolution?

Farnaz: Without my staff and actors, my vision would remain just that: a vision. I was really lucky to have the best production staff and cast a director could ask for. Before I met with each member of the production staff, I had a few months to myself to really think through every aspect of the show, to figure out what I wanted from each scene, each character, and ultimately what I wanted from the entire show. I had specific visuals meticulously planned out.

In terms of bringing these visuals, emotions, and this story to life, it was collaboration with my staff that really allowed my vision to evolve into something clear, lifelike, and beautiful. After talking through my vision with each staff member, their input helped bring the show to a new level.  Carl’s musical direction, Sarah’s choreography, John’s lighting, Matt and Francesca’s set design/execution, Abby’s costumes, Allison’s perspectives, and all of Mike Bond’s help truly strengthened and amplified my original vision, and to them I am extremely grateful and appreciative.

Director Farnaz Mansouri & Musical Director Carl Phillips collaborating to paint the stage/each-other's-faces.

And then we added the actors. No matter how many times I direct, actors will ALWAYS surprise me. I was fascinated and inspired by the depths each actor was willing to go with his/her character. They each gave such life to each role; it turned the production into something electrifying.

IC: What was one of those surprising moments?

Farnaz: I mean there are a lot. One is definitely the moment when the actors have epiphanies about their characters and say things that you’ve been waiting to hear since day one. That’s pretty awesome. Another would be that rehearsal when everything unexpectedly falls into place and out of nowhere you have an amazing show 1.5 weeks before opening night. Is that too specific?

[Editor’s note: No.]

IC: Why should college audiences come see this show?

Farnaz: For the same reason they tune into their favorite show every week, or go see a movie; it’s the escape into another world, where our minds easily follow another story line focused around others. Our bodies are at rest, while our minds are entertained. Theatre happens to be all the more electrifying, because it’s live. And this show is just f**king amazing, lets be real.

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So there it is. An interview with the legendary Farnaz Mansouri. Check back in tomorrow for an interview with members of the cast!!!

Also, here’s a gem of a picture of young Farnaz from her Cabbie-award winning performance as Mimi Schwinn in A New Brain:

You're Welcome. (Courtesy Rich Kowalski)

Get to Cabaret! See Spring Awakening! Do it! WOOOOO!

Spring Awakening – Pics Or Didn’t Happen

Did you read the wonderful reviews by living legends Matthew Hadodo and Dave Seamon yet? If you haven’t, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!? Get on that before the blogosphere implodes and they’re lost forever to the web 2.0 abyss!

Keep your eyes peeled for interviews with the cast and crew of Spring Awakening in the coming days. This time for real. And, if you haven’t already, reserve your tickets for the show! They’re pretty much already sold-out, but hey, it’s college; people don’t show up and there’s always room for extra seating. See this show!

If we must, we must.

Meanwhile, the super fantastic coolness remarkable Rich Kowalski has posted a few hundred photos of Spring Awakening on the Facebook (no, not via Instagram..,yet). So, naturally, the entire cast and crew has spent the entire morning and afternoon tagging and commenting and reposting away, instead of catching up on the school work and term papers and theses that they put off during rehearsals.

So while you wait patiently for those interviews we mentioned before, take a gander at some pics from the final dress rehearsal forSpring Awakening, AND RESERVE THOSE TICKETS!!!

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What? Were you expecting something serious or artistic? We're freaking college kids after all!

The Band. They turn it up to 11 on a nightly basis. BOOYAH.

If you cover Wendla's (played by the wonderful Lauren Sagnella) face with your thumb, it looks like Melchior (Marc Mills) has a HUGE MOUSTACHE.

Assistant Director Allison "I Will Cut You" Addona joins Musical Director Carl Phillips and Choreographer Sarah Lifson in pepping up the cast for their final dress rehearsal! Time the run started: 10:15 pm.

The cast, in the very same costumes and flop sweat that they perform the show in!

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All photos courtesy Mr. Rich Kowalski.

Reminders:

1) Reserve Tix!

2) Read reviews! ( This one AND This one)

3) Tune back in tomorrow for an interview with director, Farnaz Mansouri!!!

Peace out!

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Spring Awakening – Another Cabaret Alumnus’ Honest Opinion

Hopefully you were able to run your digital fingers under the digital lines to guide your digital eyes right along Dave Seamon’s fantastic review of Cabaret Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening. If not, click that hyper link right now!

Or click it right after reading YET ANOTHER stellar review of Spring Awakening from YET ANOTHER stellar Cabaret alumni.

His name is Matthew Hadodo. He is amazing. This is him giving a Cabbie-nominated performance in Cabaret’s February 2010 production of Ken Ludwig’s Shakespeare in Hollywood:

Vintage Matt.

Matt is another recent graduate of Rutgers University, with a degree in the uniquely awesome field of Linguistics (AND Spanish Linguistics). He’s spent the last year working up to the position of Editor-In-Chief at Parables & Books, and recently received some wonderful news about academic opportunities in the foreign land of freaking SPAIN:

SPAIN! Google doesn't even know how to get there...

So congratulations to Matt, and we at Inside Cabaret are very thankful that he dropped the following review into our inbox. Read ahead, True Believer! And reserve your gorram tickets for Spring Awakening!

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Before I begin my glowing–no, incandescent–review of Cabaret Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening (believe me, there was a lot of shining going on), allow me to share how much I do not like this show.

DO NOT WANT KNICKERS AND GERMANY

I really do not like this show.

Thank you.  I had to get that off my chest.   You see, most people in my age group (25 and younger) that are musical theater aficionados tend to gravitate towards angst-ridden shows such as RENT and Spring Awakening that, in my highly elevated opinion, have little to no character development, which in turn leads to unsympathetic motivations and thus actions that just fall really flat.

Soooo, we don't have to sing about it?

In other words, they’re not good.

But we love them.  Why?  Sweeping scores that provide emotional engagement in ways that the script can’t.  However, Cabaret Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening is filled with so much pathos (Which is coming from the Greek word which means passion) that I was choked up for a large portion of the play.  I’m also an emotional mess (Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Rising, Mercury, Venus, Pluto all in Scorpio so a lot of Water action on my birth chart) but do not allow that to overshadow the rest of this review.

So then, why did I even bother driving the 50+ miles from my house in Bergen County to see this production?  Well, I know quite a few members of the cast and even had the distinct honor and privilege to work in a Directors’ Scene showcase with the director a few years back.  Yes, I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to share the stage with Farnaz playing a married couple that had no social skills whatsoever and made complete fools of themselves.  No acting was performed on my part in that scene.  Farnaz Mansouri, for those of you who do not know, is an exceptionally beautiful Persian Princess whose catlike poise and beauty is only surpassed by her keen insight to the subtext of a plot and her amazingly observant nature and storytelling skills.  In other words, girl is smart and really good at what she does.

Farnaz Mansouri, according to Matt's description

Having been involved with various directors’ scenes, open-mic knights, main stages etc. I know just how difficult the Cabaret Theatre’s black box space can be to work with.  Farnaz and Company were very practical in staging Spring Awakening in the round.  This provided the entire audience with completely unique vantage points and experiences throughout each showing, which is essentially what theater is all about: the individual’s unique connection with the art before them.  This definitely heightened and never detracted from the mood for me, as my front row corner seat was prime for certain scenes.  A key scene in which Boris Van Der Ree (who along with Jenna Fagan had perhaps the most difficult assignment in playing various characters throughout the show and yet still managed to make each one distinct from one another) mourns the loss of his son was performed completely back to me and yet the crippling bereavement was intensified as the lighting played with the staging.

Lauren Ann Sagnella is just breathtaking as Wendla.  Her naïveté shines through and really makes Wendla appear to be a young innocent child who is curious about the world she lives in.  She truly adds a quiet vulnerability and subtlety to the show that can often be missed in other productions.  Lauren is also really White.  Like alabaster or those porcelain dolls your mother bought to decorate your room when you were an infant.

Marc Mills’ performance as Melchior showed the actor’s immense versatility.  Having seen him appear as characters ranging from Sweeney Todd, Jesus (Godspell) and Cinderella’s Prince (Into the Woods), I was pleased to see Marc approach Melchior exactly as he should be played; a highly gifted, thoughtful young man who is more advanced for his years than his peers, yet is still humble to maintain close ties with childhood friends.  I found myself connecting to the character as he (editor’s note: SPOILERS AHEAD) loses his friend, lover and childhood seemingly all at once.

Perhaps the most engaging individual performance was given to us by no other than the man, the myth, the legend himself: Joey Braccino.  Joey is like taking the best feature from each of the founders of the Legion of Superheroes (He definitely will get this reference) and combining them with the newer legionnaires to form Cosmic Saturn Brainiac Kid.  Whereas weaker actors would make Moritz appear to be a mere caricature, Joey clearly spent much time dedicated to developing a real back story for Moritz that translates to the heartbreaking portrayal of a seriously confused, socially awkward teenager who was the product of an abusive home.  My heart went out to him.

One of my favorite aspects of the theater is that the show we are watching is not just what the main characters are singing and speaking.  Having been in the ensemble of many high school, college and community theater musicals, I can honestly tell you my favorite part is taking my character(s) which will have next to zero back story in the book and create a unique entity.  This production had supporting and featured roles that amounted to an electric ensemble that was always present, always engaging.  From the show-stopping “Dark I Know Well” to the more subtle reprisals and choruses of songs, I can honestly say that each actor on stage shined in their own right without upstaging anyone else.  Not an easy feat to accomplish.

So beautiful singing, great movement, phenomenal lighting and praiseworthy acting amounted to a truly memorable experience that I will keep with me for always.  The biggest compliment I or anyone else in the theater world can give is expressing how much love I felt for a show that I normally despise.  Are there certain unequivocal faults in the book? Absolutely.  Does this production completely rise above and tell a better story than what is provided in the script?  Without a shadow of a doubt.  Am I extremely long-winded?  At times.  Should you see Spring Awakening at Cabaret Theatre?  Why haven’t you done so already?

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So there’s another glowing–nay, incandescent–review of Cabaret’s production of Spring Awakening! Reserve Reserve Reserve tickets now!

Or Matt’s gonna get you:

Say WHAT again!

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Spring Awakening – One Cabaret Alumnus’ Honest Opinion

Spring Awakening’s opening weekend is in the books! One weekend left to see what some are calling “THE GREATEST SHOW TO EVER BE PRODUCED EVER IN THE HISTORY OF SEEING” and “ONE OF IF NOT THE MOST ELECTRIFYING NIGHTS SANS NIMBUS CLOUDS” and “Damn it’s freaking hot in here can we turn off the heaters for like 10 minutes?”

It's, like, period.

Really though, audiences have been digging what those talented boys and girls are doing with Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater’s Tony-Award winning musical. One weekend left, fanboys and fangirls! Reserve your tix!

In the meantime, a glowing review was left in our Inside Cabaret inbox by none other than Mr. David “A-Lister” Seamon. A recent Rutgers graduate and Cabaret alumnus, Dave was nominated for a Cabbie award for his eye-turning, head-catching performance as Stanley “STELLLLAAAAA” Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire during Cabaret’s 2010-2011 season.

Dave Seamon acting real hard with Deanna Klapischak.

Recently, Dave has been continuing his passion for performing and theatre through various auditions and goosebump inducing turns as JESUS CHRIST in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (at Villager’s Theatre in Somerset, NJ):

THIS IS SOME DRAMATIC S**T!

Dave has also recently acquired an editor position in East Brunswick for patch.com. In other words, he’s putting his Rutgers degree in journalism/media studies to work. See! Those things are good for something other than wall decoration (or bookends).

You can catch more of Dave’s writing at patch.com, chimpshots.wordpress.com (movie reviews with other Cabbie, Joey Braccino), and at the less exciting standard social media engines. Like youtube, where you can see him make sweet, sweet love music.

In the meantime, check out his glowing review of Spring Awakening below!!!

It was hard work like this that earned Dave the Cabbie nomination for Best Actor in a Play.

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This is what I dig: live performance. The energy, the costumes, the lights, the angst, the desperation, the audience, etc. It takes guts to put on a show. Guts and balls! Am I easy to please? Maybe. But is it easy to put on a musical? Hell no! Therefore, if you read this detailed, positive review and find you are unable to move past the fact that I know everyone in this show, that I am an alumnus of Cabaret Theater myself, and that I have an insane level of bias, stop reading now. Because you don’t get what I’m trying to do. I have love for everyone in this cast, and I have objective, peer-to-peer respect for everything they have done with Spring Awakening. College theater is so seldom reviewed, and when it is, it is done by cynical journalism majors with an axe to grind (the irony in that sentence is coincidental, I promise). So allow me to take this time to gush. And again, stop reading NOW if you can’t handle reading positive reviews by happy people.

And then I said, "Well, Nelly, will you help me put my knickers back on? Because my nurse won't be in again until Tuesday!"

I had a feeling while watching Spring Awakening at Cabaret Theater that I was watching a passion project movie. You know the kind. The Fighter by David O. Russell, Black Swan by Darren Aranofsky, Funny People by Judd Apatow. The director is so present in them, and it gives clear and electrifying purpose to the production. With Spring Awakening, Director and Queen Farnaz Mansouri has injected the show with explosive characters dripping with angst and energy. By casting the show as impeccably as she and Assistant Director and Queen Allison Addona have, Spring Awakening is effortlessly able to soar on the youthful wings of the “f**k my life” mantra.

Spring Awakening tells the story of a handful of horny kids in 1890s Germany who want to put their something in, on, or around someone else’s something, but their cowardly parents never taught them anything about sex or its deep dark secret (it gets girls pregnant!). Thus, the boys are confined to the classroom where they conjugate classical Greek day in and day out, and the girls prepare to be the only thing they are expected to be: wives and mothers who wait for the stork. As the parents and teachers start to lose their little automatons to the temptations of sexual expression, the children are made to choose one of three ways to live their lives: stick to the status quo (“oh no NO NO!”), rock the boat, or let the system crush them. What ensues is a raw, honest portrayal of how acquiescing to any of the three choices can have grave consequences.

As Moritz and Melchior, Joey Braccino and Marc Mills depict defeat and rebellion respectively. With his twitching, “Professor Frink goes to Columbine” characterization, Braccino is at once both heartbreaking and electrifying to watch. He plays Moritz as a passionate psycho/sociopath, to whom conventional society has shown no patience. His foil? Marc Mills as Melchior. He is well-loved, intelligent, cunning, and handsome- a savior who doesn’t care about saving anyone. His Melchior knows all along that as promising as the future is, not everyone’s story has a happy ending. And Mills has firm, toned buttocks.

Firm, Toned Buttocks.

Lauren Sagnella is tragic and beautiful as Wendla. Her portrayal is sympathetic to the ignorance that comes with being a young girl. Sagnella affects emptiness behind her eyes, a sadness that accompanies her childishness. It haunts the show from “Mama who Bore Me” to Wendla’s final scene. Adding hollowness to Wendla allows each of her songs to tell a deeper story, putting the whole show into every scene.

Amanda Padro and Alexandra Hausner bring their giant balls to the table with Marta and Ilse. The showstopping “Dark I Know Well” is haunting and beautifully sung by these two vocal powerhouses (“powerhausner” and “padrohouse”). Padro and Hausner portray what it means to let society beat you down and to rock the boat respectively. And as actresses, they rise to the challenge of showing what each choice does to a young girl: Padro with her big, heartbroken eyes, and Hausner with her flower child, “I’m not okay, but that’s okay” airiness.

Tyler Picone and Nick Cartusciello play Hanschen and Ernst, two curious young men who don’t have to worry about getting anyone pregnant. Their reprise of “The Word of your Body” was funny and touching for all the right reasons. It was a romantic, playful, and also sad moment. Cartusciello is the most well-cast actor at Rutgers. I’ve never watched him and thought he was misplaced or uncomfortable. He knows his type, and plays to his strengths. Picone is another miracle man. His voice would make Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green punch Christina Aguilera in the neck. It’s like listening to angels have sex. He is another well-utilized actor. Every time I see Cartusciello or Picone in a show, they’ve always grown since the last one. Keep your eye on them.

... No Chance.

Boris Van Der Ree and Jenna Fagan play the foolish, cowardly adults. If you don’t know the show, two actors play all the adult characters from the teachers to each child’s parents. Van der Ree and Fagan manage to embody the oxymoron of an “immature adult.” Constantly running away from the problem and dodging the open-mindedness of the kids, they bring a light-hearted stubbornness to the show without making it silly. They were simultaneously caricatures and honest representations of adults from our youth. And in act two, they give us two emotional peaks that really hit home (this is a spoiler-free review, but ya’ll know).

You can depend on Will Carey to deliver the goods in any show, but rock musicals are where he shines. I was consistently drawn to him and his wild hair during “The Bitch of Living.” Carey is another electrifying actor. He really gives his body to the choreography throughout the show, and he has a powerful, consistent rock tenor voice. Newcomer Jordan Hafetz was a joy to watch as Otto. He has a great “puppy in the headlights” expression during “The Bitch of Living” that made me wonder…if the show were about Otto, would he turn out to be another Moritz?

As Thea and Anna, Meg Gillan and Francesca Fiore round out the circle of young girls. Their parts are underwritten, but that didn’t stop Gillan and Fiore from making choices and coming alive on stage. Gillan gives off a “leader of the pack” vibe, with her coy grin and smoky voice, from the moment she charges onstage in “Mama Who Bore Me (Reprise).” Fiore, on the opposite end, put on her costume and became eleven years old all over again. She has so much innocence in her face and body language that when her back was turned, I swore they had hired a middle school girl.

Visually, the show is a treat. A minimal set and fantastic costumes by Abby Nutter compliment the raw creation at hand in Spring Awakening. Who needs a giant swing and a trap door in the floor when you can just as easily let the actors play with the space and lights? The shows final vignette is especially gorgeous.

Like most shows in the world, the sound was a problem at times. In a space as small as Cabaret, it usually makes no sense to mic the actors individually. But in a show where there is a four-piece rock band right in the middle of the audience (the show is performed basically in a round), individual mics would have helped. Sometimes, an actor turning their back meant their lines were lost to one side of the theater. This is an issue that sound engineers will never stop dealing with at Rutgers and beyond. I saw RENT on Broadway in 2002, and I had no idea wtf any of them were saying. The songs “You’ll See” and “New Years Eve” made my head feel like jelly because of how muddled the sound was. That just goes to show you that sound issues exist everywhere- from middle school musical productions all the way up to the top. In Spring Awakening, it never affected my enjoyment of the performance, but it did hinder my appreciation for the lyrics and dialogue. But that, dear readers, is the main reason for my initial disclaimer…I like live performance. I can move past mic issues if the energy level is right. And in this show, it was right on the money.

Go see Spring Awakening at Cabaret Theater this coming weekend, April 13-15. Get showtimes and ticket info at Cabarettheater.org or on Facebook. It’s a great way to celebrate the end of a school year and the beginning of Summer, when young love and life decisions go hand-in-hand and the myth of childhood opens up to the reality of adulthood. If you’re graduating, that is. If not, stay in school. Stay as loooong as you can. For the love of God, cherish it!

If you got the reference, you win.

You gotta cherish it. You do.

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Again, special thanks to Mr. Dave “Look at my awesome Beard” Seamon for sharing his thoughts with us. It’s always wonderful having alumni return to Cabaret for shows, and this blog lets them share their appreciation and memories with the WHOLE WORLD.

If you’d like to contribute to Inside Cabaret, click here!!!!!!

Also, do as Dave says! Tickets are selling faster than cheese wiz in the ’50s!

Reserve Reserve Reserve!!!!!!!!

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Spring Awakening Tickets are Going Like Hot Cakes!

Hey everyone!

Spring Awakening tickets are selling out fast! Some tickets are still available for the this weekend, especially for the Saturday, April 7th show at 3PM. Reserve now! To do so, email cabtheatre@gmail.com with (1) Your name, (2) the number of tickets you need, and (3) the date/time of the performance you want to attend.

Remember, even if a show is sold out, tickets that are not claimed 20 minutes before showtime are released, so if you’re on the wait list and arrive early, there’s a good chance you might still be able to see the show.

 

All the techies hard at work to make the Spring Awakening set look fantabulous! Get your tickets now!