News From Masters
Upper School students staged a production of Spring Awakening that was by turns energetic and deeply moving before packed houses of community members on February 23 and 24 at the Claudia Boettcher Theatre.
A sprawling cast of 48 students, ably assisted by a 14-member student production team, presented the musical, which is based on the groundbreaking play by German playwright Frank Wedekind. Performing arts teacher Jessica Bogart directed the two-act piece.
Set in late-19th-century Germany, Spring Awakening tells the story of teenagers discovering the turbulence of adolescence as they experience unrest and self-discovery. The production, which explored many of the difficult issues adolescents are exposed to, was presented with an eye toward helping to promote healthy dialogue and understanding.
Throughout the musical, the cast artfully handled several scenes featuring mature content. And the staging, which included moody, atmospheric lighting, was creative and effective. During some musical numbers, cast members jumped acrobatically on and off chairs and one character even sang while dangling upside down from scaffolding.
“I was endlessly awed by our cast,” Ms. Bogart said this week. “They treated the material with enormous care and respect. When they asked if they could dedicate the final performance to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas [High School] students, I was bursting with pride.”
“For our student artists, the show presented an opportunity to develop their talent by safely pushing the boundaries of their skills while experiencing tremendous personal growth,” said Jennifer Carnevale, Chair of the Department of Performing Arts. “It is our hope that through this kind of work, we’ll be able to spark conversation, break stereotypes and demonstrate to our children that their feelings and experiences matter.”
Katie Meadows, Coordinator of Middle School Music, served as musical director, while Jason Reiff served as choreographer. Amanda Labonte served as technical director, Gilles Pugatch as sound designer and Jeff Carnevale as lighting designer. Several student instrumentalists and a professional pit band conducted by Ms. Meadows provided musical support.
Near the conclusion of Saturday night’s performance, the cast and crew dedicated the show to the students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 students and teachers were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.
With the full company surrounding him, cast member Ramsey Frank said, “Spring Awakening tells the tale of children who are thrown into an uncaring and dangerous world while adults stand idly by and watch them suffer. So it seems quite fitting that the students at the epicenter of this new social revolution [a reference to calls for gun control measures from students nationwide] will put on their own version of Spring Awakening in the coming months.”
“We, the cast and crew, would love to send all of our support, our unbreaking love, to the students, faculty, and the soon-to-be cast and crew of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas production of Spring Awakening,” added Ramsey.