The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Spring Awakening
Organization Falcon's Eye Theatre
Date(s) of show April 10-13, 2014
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review This was the much-anticipated, first production of Folsom Lake College's Falcon’s Eye Theatre in the large Stage One of Harris Center – and their first musical (that I can recall). Over recent years, every Falcon’s Eye Theatre show that I have seen has featured an incredibly creative set. This time, with the resources of this large, state-of-the-art facility at their disposal, the directors really outdid themselves. I don’t have a mastery of the terminology, but there was a “wall” the width of the stage that could be raised and lowered. There was a grid pattern of large squares and rectangles on this wall. When it was partially opened it revealed an internal “stage” at about a 15-degree angle, sort of a “box” within the wall, inside of which much of the action took place. But there was much more to the set: a long staircase leading to the “roof” over the box, where a lot more of the action took place, set pieces dangling from the fly tower, a “meadow” over part of the orchestra pit, etc. And the “wall” itself had many different built-in lighting effects. And speaking of lighting, giant images were frequently projected on the “wall” to suggest different out-of-doors scenes. It was absolutely dazzling, and provided staging surprises throughout the show.

Staging was only one kind of surprise this show had to offer. The plot of this rock musical – which won a pile of awards in 2007, including 6 Tony Awards – is based on an 1891 German play by the same name. It was banned in Germany because of its portrayal of abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse and suicide, and that’s why this production prohibited children under the age of 12 and required those under 17 to be accompanied by an adult. I didn’t notice anyone who looked under 17 in the nearly full lower section of Stage One, but most of this Thursday-night audience seemed to be college students.

But I was talking about the show’s surprises. The action is set in late 19th Century Germany, and the costumes and dialog are consistent with that. But when it’s time for a song, the performers jump down from the “box” to the front of the stage, grab microphones, and all of a sudden we have a rock concert in full swing, often with flashing lights and the kind of spotlights that wander over an audience. This is accompanied by a live band, though I hesitate to call it a “band” because the instruments include 2 violins, a cello, and a bass violin. They give the proper mood for the numerous ballads in the musical score.

I’m not one to comment on the quality of contemporary rock music, but it sounded good to me. The singers had strong voices, though it was often difficult to make out the lyrics. I lost a lot of the dialog, as well, and I don’t know whether it is attributable to the sound amplification or the articulation of the actors, because there were many of them whose words did come through. I had read a detailed summary of the action before the show began, so I recognized character names and knew what to expect in the action. A good portion of the show felt like it was what I might call “sex with no skin.” I don’t think I’m particularly prudish, but to tell the truth, I saw some things I would rather not have seen. And yet the college girls seated around me seemed to enjoy it all.

There’s no question that this musical will be a new experience for most. It’s definitely edgy and risqué, but extremely well done, and that includes that acting, dancing and singing by the large, energetic cast. And the quality of the show is evidenced by the standing ovation and cheers from the audience that greeted the players when they took their final bows. I think my description is a fair one, and if you’re adventuresome and open-minded, this could be your cup of tea – or Red Bull or Rockstar.

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