Tuesday, February 9, 2010

To Check Out the Teen Spirit by Audition

Teen Spirit Audition
While open auditions were held last year to find young, raw and artistic cast members for the rock musical Spring Awakening, the cries of ecstasy and tears of despair among the hundreds of promising echoed the early episodes of Australian Idol.

Spring Awakening, after all, is a Tony Award-winning musical with charisma and indie reliability about a people of teenagers on the exciting, confused, sweet and wounding brink of adulthood.

Based on the 1891 expressionist play of the same name by the German Frank Wedekind the Broadway production of Spring Awakening won eight Tony Awards in 2007, counting for best musical and score.

The show's merge of alternative rock, pop and folk amplifies the struggle between human desire and social conditioning. Wedekind's book was labeled pornographic in the 19th century, even though he had subtitled it A Tragedy of Childhood and dedicated it to teachers and parents.

For the Sydney Theatre Company's artistic directors, Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton, the musical is a possibility to invest in young talent and rock the boat a little. Most seductive of all was the opportunity to make a new, clearly Australian production rather than an imitator version of the American original.

Over the past six weeks, Spectrum has followed the rising director Geordie Brookman, the highly praised choreographer Kate Champion and the expert musical director Robert Gavin as they guide a young team in what promises to be an ambitious, bold and electric stage adventure.

On a wet, stormy day late in December, Spring Awakening's cast of 17 converges for the first day of practice at Walsh Bay. Most of their family and friends are holidaying, heading to the beach or planning Christmas parties. They, however, are head-down in the script and score and coming to grips with provincial German school rituals, Latin verbs, suppressive codes and teenager angst, not least the allure and promise of sex.

It's a motley tribe. Akos Armont, whose dreamy-eyed vitality came to notice in a Griffin Theatre renewal of Michael Gow's rite-of-passage drama The Kid, stars as the tormented Moritz. He was required after by the producers yet still had to audition to clinch the role.

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