Monday, April 27, 2015

Great News: The Return of Deaf West's Spring Awakening to the Wallis Annenberg

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (“The Wallis”), Deaf West Theatre and Cody Lassen have announced Spring Awakening, the Tony Award-winning best musical, has a limited 22-performance engagement Thursday, May 21 to Sunday, June 7, 2015 in the Bram Goldsmith Theater. 

Deaf West Theatre Artistic Director David J. Kurs explains that their production illuminates the divide between deaf children and their hearing parents who do not share their world. “The play is all about the fraught relationship between parent and child, about navigating the world without strong guidance.  The inability of the characters in Spring Awakening to connect to and communicate with their parents is similar to the experience of many deaf children.” 

This innovative and acclaimed production, which enjoyed a sold-out engagement at downtown L.A.’s Rosenthal Theatre last fall, is performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken English, by a cast of 27.  An extraordinary creative team, including director Michael Arden, choreographer Spencer Liff, and musical director Jared Stein (first National Tour of Spring Awakening; Broadway productions of American Idiot and Hair), have reinvented the groundbreaking musical about lost innocence and the struggles of youth in true Deaf West style.

The Los Angeles Times said that Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening is “an emotional triumph,” and that “Awakening awakens us to the dormant possibilities of this musical, with all the goose-bumps and teardrops to prove it.”

Spring Awakening, with book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, is directed by Arden and choreographed by Liff.  Based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 expressionist play of the same name and featuring an electrifying pop/rock score, Spring Awakening follows the lives of a group of adolescents as they navigate their journey from adolescence to adulthood in a fusion of morality, sexuality and rock & roll. 

Arden,who plays Patrick on the FX series “Anger Management,” recently originated the title role in The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Paper Mill Playhouse and La Jolla Playhouse and previously appeared in Deaf West productions of Big River on Broadway and Pippin at the Mark Taper Forum. Liff is an Emmy-nominee for his work on FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and choreographed the current Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

F. Kathleen Foley said in The Los Angeles Times, “It's hard to enumerate all the ways in which Deaf West's Awakening is so very, very good.  The signing in this production does more than simply translate; it ennobles.”

“Spencer Liff's choreography incorporates signing and movement into perfectly coordinated sequences that seem completely organic to the narrative, while music director Jared Stein exploits the show's young singers to spine-tingling effect. Yet the real star of the evening is director Michael Arden, whose staging involves a mind-bogglingly intricate meld of the show's many disparate elements.”

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