Returning to in-person performances after a year-long hiatus from performing in front of audiences, the Boston College Dramatics Society kicked off their season with the sensational Spring Awakening musical, a show that tackles themes of assault, mental health, and sexual exploration.
From Oct. 28 to Oct. 30, the BC Dramatics Society presented the musical Spring Awakening, directed by Devyn Itula, MCAS ’22. The musical follows a group of Protestant teenagers during the late 19th century in Germany as they explore adolescence and sexuality while under the watch of their ultra-conservative parents and other adults.
The performance occurred in the Bonn Studio Theater, which is BC’s black-box theater reserved for small performances, creating an intimate audience environment. The two-act musical elicited strong reactions from the audience due to the skill and talent of the 13-member cast.
In the musical, the story follows 14-year-old Melchior, played by Gabriel Biagi, MCAS ’25, as he tries to find himself. The play focuses on the relationships Melchior has with his friends and with Wendla, played by Myla Pellegrini, MCAS ’25, a 14-year-old who runs across Melchior’s path. Throughout the musical, the group of teenagers confront contemplations of suicide, complex conversations about sex and consent, and their desires for physical intimacy—primarily expressed through the song “Touch Me.”
The show was a major success when it debuted on Broadway in 2006. Based on a 1891 play written by Frank Wedekind under the same title, composer Duncan Sheik modernized the story with his folk and alternative rock score. The musical became increasingly popular—later touring the United States in 2008 and opening in London in 2009.
The stage design and direction utilized the small stage space by relying upon very few props for setting the scenes in the play—mostly wooden boxes that would serve as seats, desks, flowerboxes, and even tombstones, with a large tree standing at the back of the stage.
The first large group performance of “Touch Me” in Act I established the atmosphere and trajectory of the show, with each character kind of in their own world as they were starting to understand their own sexuality.
In Act II, the performance of “Don’t Do Sadness / Blue Wind” was captivating with the use of lighting effects that highlighted each character in either a blue or red stream of light. The performance of “Totally F**ked” in Act II involved the entire cast, and the power and intensity of the song were matched by the choreography on stage.
“It was really awesome performing live theatre after a year and a half of COVID and not being able to perform in front of a live audience,” Catherine Marra, MCAS ’22, who played one of the teenagers in the show, said. “It was really a lot of energy and a lot of fun, and I’m happy to be back.”
After a year of modified and virtual theatrical performances, the BC Dramatics Society’s return to an in-person, maskless performance allowed the actors to play off the audience’s reactions to the musical’s shocking plotline.
“[With] such an emotional show like [Spring Awakening] where there is so much going on and so many little moments, it was so fun to finally have a live audience and feed off of their reactions,” said Kathleen Meade, MCAS ’22, who played Adult Woman, a role which encompasses all adult female characters in the show.
The small-stage setting, the intimate audience, and the emotional, moving messages of the performance made for a captivating show in the sold-out Bonn Studio Theater. The hauntingly beautiful end number of “The Song of Purple Summer” was a powerful close, as it highlighted the glimmer of hope for the summer to come, after the show endured trials of sadness.
“[I]n a world stacked against them, these young people trying their best to do what feels most honest and carve out a little space to unabashedly live their truth on their terms,” Itula wrote in her director’s note for the performance.
Spring Awakening encapsulated the talent of the entire cast and was a strong season-opening show for the BC Dramatics Society.
Featured Images by Leo Wang / Heights Staff