Spring Awakening, which caused a sensation on Broadway and cleaned up at the 2007 Tony awards, made its much-anticipated transatlantic transfer, opening at the Lyric Hammersmith on Tuesday (3 February, previews from 23 January), where it runs until 28 February 2009.
The alt-rock musical, which has music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater, is based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play of the same name about sexual discovery. Set in 19th-century Germany, the story centres on brilliant student Melchior, his troubled friend Moritz and Wendla, a beautiful girl on the verge of womanhood. It's directed by Michael Mayer and choreographed by Bill T Jones.
The cast is led by Charlotte Wakefield (Wendla), Iwan Rheon (Moritz) and Aneurin Barnard (Melchior) - the latter two recent graduates of LAMDA and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama respectively – who all make their professional London stage debuts in the production.
Critical reaction was somewhat polarised between those who hailed the “best new musical in London for ages” and those (most notably Nicholas de Jongh of the Evening Standard) who were underwhelmed. The primary complaints of the dissenters included the “unlovely” lyrics of Steven Sater and its conversion of Wedekind's "savage" play into a piece of “feelgood theatre". However, with three of our included critics awarding five stars and heralding the show "an absolute must-see", it seems to be one worth judging for yourself. And special mention must go to the young cast, who even de Jongh labelled "brilliantly promising".
- by Theo Bosanquet