With the recent Deaf West Theatre revival, Spring Awakening is back on Broadway and a bigger media sensation than ever.
Spring Awakening originally opened Off-Broadway in 2006, with a cast of then-unknown talents such as Lea Michele (Glee), Jonathan Groff (Glee, Looking), and John Gallagher, Jr. (Newsroom). Spring Awakening took audiences on the wild ride of the discovery of teenage sexuality with a late-19th century German backdrop and an electrifying rock score.
After three unbelievably successful months Off-Broadway, the show then moved onto Broadway, where it lasted through 859 performances. Closing in 2009, the show earned a total of 8 Tony Awards during its run. The end of the show was devastating for many, including the actors and devoted audiences who had grown so attached to the story of these troubled teenagers.
But now, nearly seven years after Spring Awakening ended its Broadway run and nearly six years since the end of its national tour, the Deaf West Theatre has brought it back, and in a big way.
The Deaf West Theatre Company is a cultural institution company based out of Los Angeles, California that creates a musical experience for the deaf. They do this by performing in American Sign Language in tandem with the English language and music. They employ both deaf and hearing actors to work together in careful but strategic synchronicity: to create a full experience for both deaf and hearing audiences.
The Deaf West Theatre Company first opened its production of Spring Awakening in Los Angeles, but after much critical acclaim, has since moved its production to Broadway for a limited 18 week run from September of 2015 to January of 2016.
The revival of Spring Awakening on Broadway since its announcement has caused a massive ripple in the mainstream media. Not only has a remarkably beloved musical returned, but it has returned in a way no one could have predicted. The easy assimilation of many double-casted roles (a hearing singer for their voice and a separate actor for the acting and sign language performance) makes it so that watching this production of the musical is simply more involved and enhanced, and in no way slowed down or burdened.
Not only is this show an unforgettable experience due to its unique character, but also for its notable cast of characters. Reprising his role of Hanschen is Andy Mientus, who performed the role originally with the national tour. Mientus is both the voice and stage presence of Hanschen in the Deaf West production. THis means Mientus must also learn sign language prior to reprising this role. Oscar-winning Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God, Switched at Birth) will also join the stage, taking on several different roles.
Between an amazingly talented and incredibly hard-working cast, an experience like no other, and the backing of an already endeared musical, it’s no wonder The New York Times has called Deaf West’s Spring Awakening “a new sensation to Broadway.”
For more information on The Deaf West Theatre Company or their production of Spring Awakening, feel free to visit their official website here.