Theater
Review
Spring Awakening
Karen Santos / Foothill Music Theatre
Caitlin Papp, sitting, as the mother who bore her, with Juliana Lustenader as her daughter in Foothill Music Theatre's production of "Spring Awakening."
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"Spring Awakening"

By: Duncan Sheik (music) and Steven Sater (book and lyrics), based on 1891 play by Frank Wedekind.
Produced by: Foothill Music Theatre
Directed by: Milissa Carey
Choreography by : Amanda Folena
Musical direction by: Mark Hanson
Featuring: Casey Ellis, Jeremy Griffith, Dana Johnson, Justin Karr, Brandon Leland, Juliana Lustenader, Ryan Mardesich, Carissa McElravy, Jacob Marker, Lyn Meheula, Dillon Mena, Caitlin Papp, Jason Rehklau, Mark Sanders, Taylor Sanders, Holly Smolik and Warren Wernick
When: Preview 7:30 p.m. February 21; opens February 22, runs through March 10 2013. Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.
Where: Lohman Theatre, Foothill College, at the bottom of the hill, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, California
Tickets: $10-$28. Visit www.foothillmusicals.com or call 650-949-7360.
Spring Awakening
Karen Santos / Foothill Music Theatre
Ryan Mardesich stars as Moritz in Foothill Music Theatre's production of "Spring Awakening."
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Spring Awakening
Karen Santos / Foothill Music Theatre
Juliana Lustenader as Wendla and Jason Rehklau as Melchior in Foothill Music Theatre's production of "Spring Awakening." The show runs February 21 through March 10 the Lohman Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos, California.
A soft 'Spring Awakening'
at Foothill Music Theatre
Overall fine cast still feeling its way
with this powerful rock musical
February 25, 2013

"Spring Awakening" at Foothill Music Theatre is a good show that falls just a little short of bring great. So far. It will, I think, get better with age. And, happily, it has a three-week run at the Lohman Theatre at Foothill College in which to do that, and I hope y'all go see it.

But on opening weekend, while still beautifully moving and well sung, the show lacked some of the power and the sharpness that is possible with this script and music.

It's a show that is all rock 'n' roll, and that needs to be sung with power and emotion. On Saturday night, at least, too large a percentage of the cast was still concentrating on getting everything right.

Step here, turn there, what's my next line?

And "Spring Awakening" needs an in-your-face scream and sneer. The cast can't just perform it, the cast must be those scared and bleeding adolescents of the powerful story.

"Spring Awakening" should draw blood; the filed-down fangs of this production barely dent the skin.

Still, this show had its great moments. For one thing, it is a fabulous cast of singers. While Juliana Lustenader, when on her own, was occasionally a bit timid about a note; and while Jason Rehklau as Melchior once or twice missed a note, they both sang beautifully most of the time. And all the duets and all the ensemble singing was beautiful. Seventeen people in that cast, as as far as I can tell, they all managed the harmonies and the melodies brilliantly. Really, all the singing is delightful.

And the music, score by Duncan Sheik, is fabulous stuff, and Foothill fielded an excellent, seven-piece band, under the direction of Mark Hanson, to back up the excellent singers.

Spring Awakening
Karen Santos / Foothill Music Theatre
Ryan Mardesich, as Moritz, is rebuked by Justin Karr, as his teacher, in Foothill Music Theatre's production of "Spring Awakening."
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The most powerful performance was Ryan Mardesich as the doomed Moritz. Mardesich delivered the angst and the anger and the power of his role, no holds barred. And made the switch back from the stomping and screaming part to the fearful and confused part. Fine performance.

"Spring Awakening," books and lyrics by Steven Sater, is based on an 1891 play by Frank Wedekind. It's a screaming denunciation of every mistake ever made by any parent.

Little Wendla has bloomed, so to speak, and wants "Mama Who Bore Me" to tell her the truth about bodies and babies. But Mama is too shy. Wendla finds out about child abuse and about sado-masochism, and that she really likes the way this guy Melchior makes her feel. Meanwhile, all the boys in town are wrestling with "sticky dreams," none worse than poor Moritz, who can't even sleep for fear of his nightmares.

This story does not end entirely happily, although it's not as grim, as, say, "Romeo and Juliet." It's more like "Places in the Heart," and we are reminded that all those we have ever loved are still with those of us who struggle on in this mortal life.

And even while I was being Mr. Thick-Skinned Grumpy Critic Guy, taking notes about lint, this production, in the tiny Lohman theater, still moved me to tears.

Spring Awakening
Karen Santos / Foothill Music Theatre
Juliana Lustenader as Wendla and Jason Rehklau as Melchior in Foothill Music Theatre's production of "Spring Awakening." The show runs February 21 through March 10 the Lohman Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos, California.


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