Beautifully sung, skilfully acted

Performing a scene from Pop Up Productions’ Spring Awakening (The Musical) are Arlie McCormick ...
Performing a scene from Pop Up Productions’ Spring Awakening (The Musical) are Arlie McCormick (left) and Lexie Tomlinson. Photo: supplied
Pop Up Productions
NZ Playhouse Theatre
Sunday, November 4

The Star reporter Brenda Harwood
Alternative rock musical Spring Awakening (The Musical) translates surprisingly well from Broadway to The Playhouse stage in a new production presented by Dunedin’s own Pop Up Productions NZ.

Directed by Kim Morgan, with musical direction by Bridget Telfer-Milne, and choreography by Olivia Larkins, this production of Spring Awakening is beautifully sung and acted by a skilled and committed cast, while mostly successfully walking the line between its 19th century source material and modern rock musical.

Based on a notorious 1891 play by German playwright Frank Wedekind, Spring Awakening (The Musical) was adapted as a rock musical by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik and first staged in 2006. Telling the story of teenage angst and sexuality drowning in a world of restrictive adult decorum, the show traverses some challenging topics, including sexuality, abuse, repression, abortion and suicide. Hence its R13 rating.

Against a simple but effective backdrop, the 13-strong cast remain on stage for virtually the whole show, either performing or sitting at the side of the stage.

All have plenty to do, with classroom scenes and teenage gossip morphing into superb ensemble pieces, showing impressive vocal powers and some truly lovely harmonising.

Leading the cast as a pair of star-crossed lovers and their set-upon, angst-ridden friend are Will Larkins (Melchior), Lexie Tomlinson (Wendla) and Max Beal (Moritz) — all in very fine voice and giving their all in service of the story.

They are superbly supported by Destiny Carvell (Ilse), Jacob Blomfield (Hanschen), Oli Morphew (Martha), Jay Bailey (Ernst), Savannah Taylor (Thea), Mason Bouzaid (Georg), Shannon Burnett (Anna) and Max McCormick (Otto) — each of whom have their own story to tell and lots of ensemble work to do.

Arlie McCormick and Darrel Read take various roles, as adult women and adult men, skilfully creating characters both sympathetic and deeply unpleasant.

All in all, this production of Spring Awakening is absorbing, entertaining, and very nicely sung. Recommended.

The show continues until Saturday.