Spring Awakening, the Awakening of Spring, and, Ahem, More.

by Jamie Bullins

Capitol City Theater Company, Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 7:30 pm. 

It feels good to be back in a theatre again, no matter the latent feeling of discomfort. Social distancing in place, masks for the audience and staff, and a very detailed outline of COVID precautions taken by the theatre provided for you, digitally, of course. Whew, the times we live in. 

So, Spring Awakening, the musical, is based on a German play, written in the late 19th century, which deals with, in a very candid nature, the tumultuous nature of teenagers who are discovering sexuality and all that goes with it. So, this is not a family outing. It doesn’t pull punches, and neither did the original play, which caused quite a stir. In its time, it was banned, censored, called pornographic. Topics touched on include rape, child abuse, homosexuality, suicide, abortion. All set within a stunning soundtrack provided by Duncan Sheik. 

There, you’ve been warned. Hopefully that won’t keep you away. If you’re not yet comfortable venturing out to the theatre again, Capitol City has provided streaming options for the performance. So, stay home, still catch it.

The studio for Capitol City at 1742 N 48th is a great little space. I look forward to how it will be put to use as this new company grows and, hopefully, sticks around. 

The space is sparsely arranged, just the bare necessities for the production. Which, I find exciting, because then compositions may be created solely by the 14 members of the ensemble, which highlights the vitality of this piece. 

As you read the bios for the ensemble, you will find that these performers are mostly recent graduates from programs in the vicinity, or still enrolled. That makes perfect sense, since the characters are school kids. But it also allows us to meet them in their young and exciting prime, with a palpable energy, vocally and physically. 

And, that’s the highlight of this performance. The voices are strong, the ensemble is putting in the work. It’s the reason not to miss Spring Awakening. I hope to see these faces around. 

Sound is always a challenge, working with canned music rather than a live band, microphones, mixing, livestreaming, all those things. And for the most part, it is well done. There are multiple times the instrumentation finds itself buried beneath the vocals, which makes for a challenge for the audience to share in the energy the cast is celebrating from the music that they are oh-so familiar with. And it also is a bit uncomfortable to know that the cast is struggling to hear it as well. 

The overall aesthetic of the work holds together well. In a new, found space that is transformed for performance, the open nature of the scenic elements, with added texture is enough. Hell, it could have worked in a completely untouched space as well. The lighting was super supportive of the emotional roller coaster for the story. As an audience member, you go on quite a journey. The wardrobe works well, helping to establish an individual look for each character, when as a society, for these kids, that was not the point. It was opposite the point at the time. Each of the technical elements is supportive of the overall event and world. 

So, whether you go, or stay at home. You shouldn’t miss Spring Awakening. Welcome to Lincoln, Capitol City Theater Company, we look forward to your next project, especially if this one is any indication of what’s to come. 

If you go: You can catch Spring Awakening live, or livestreamed, October 21-22, 24-25, 27-30, November 1, 4-7, all with 7:30 pm curtain times at Capitol City Theater (1742 North 48th Street in Lincoln). Tickets may be purchased online.  

The livestream review can be found here.

Jamie Bullins is a member of the faculty in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at UNL, since the fall of 2017. He is an Educator, Scenographer, Director, and Playwright and has been at it for almost 25 years now. 

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