Review: Young cast helps humour shine through in powerful rock musical Spring Awakening

The Gallery Players rehearsing Spring Awakening which is part of the New Wolsey's Open Season

The Gallery Players rehearsing Spring Awakening which is part of the New Wolsey's Open Season - Credit: Archant

Spring Awakening, Gallery Players at the New Wolsey Theatre

Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening - Credit: Archant

Putting on lesser known productions is a forte of Gallery Players, so the choice of Spring Awakening for their summer musical at the New Wolsey Theatre is not a surprise. With only a limited West End run several years ago it is not a production which many people will know much about.

It is a challenging show to pull off, not least because of its subject matter – 11 teenagers trying to discover their own sexuality while their parents and teachers do their best to suppress it, refusing to give them the information they crave for fear it will corrupt them. In fact their lack of understanding of their children turns out to lead to far greater tragedy.

Add in suicide, teen pregnancy and physical abuse and you would be forgiven for thinking this show would not excite and engage you. So I will forgive you, for you are wrong to think that.

The tight-knit cast Gallery Players has formed for this production revels in the intensity of the script and their exuberant performances of the big rock musical numbers are extremely entertaining to watch.

The Gallery Players rehearsing Spring Awakening which is part of the New Wolsey's Open Season

The Gallery Players rehearsing Spring Awakening which is part of the New Wolsey's Open Season - Credit: Archant


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They make the most of the frequent humorous moments (including one song which has a name I really cannot print in a family paper), meaning the serious themes all the more powerful.

Some of the more bawdy and raunchy sections of the show actually got the loudest cheers from the audience and the enjoyment shared with the characters creates the vital connection needed for the theatregoer to care about what happens to them. And as the plot escalates you cannot help but be drawn in deeper.

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There were a few moments where the intensity of a couple of songs spilled over and a few lyrics got lost among the excitement, but it was otherwise another highly polished performance from the Gallery Players.

A younger audience will certainly recognise the challenges and feelings they will experience as they grow through their teenage years, so it is highly recommended to them.

But Spring Awakening has something which will appeal to all ages, which the combination of cast, staging and simplicity helps to achieve: The ability to see yourself, friends, or people you have met within the performance – the fundamental link between cast and audience any stage show should strive to create.

Spring Awakening is at the New Wolsey Theatre until Saturday (July 30).

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