WhatsOnStage Logo

Long live Sping Awakening

WhatsOnStage logo
At this year’s Lawrence Olivier Awards, it should have been a chance for the cast of Spring Awakening to celebrate, after all they walked away with awards for Best Sound Design, Best Supporting Performance, Best Actor and Best Musical. They must have been over the moon that this small Musical that proved a big hit on Broadway beat out competition from Mega jukebox musicals and audience friendly favourites.

Yes, it should have been a night to celebrate, the only thing is though, the winners for the best new musical barely got to grace the West End with their presence after the show closed last year after only a couple of months.

Low ticket sales and bad producing errors saw the musical based on the German play by Frank Wedekind throw in the towel at the Novello theatre after only 2 months, yet in a great twist, the show received the highest honours at the awards ceremony this year, so what could this mean for the show?

People have been wondering if the show could now reopen, maybe take to the road on tour or have a limited run somewhere, after all surely having ‘WINNER OF BEST NEW MUSICAL’ written on the marquee would help it sell right?

Sadly I think the only time we will see this teen angst musical again will be when several am/dram companies stage the show around the country. Even holding up its awards high and proud it would take a very brave producer to put up the money to mount this show again. In this case, unfortunately the awards mean nothing to the shows future. Hopefully five years down the line this might change and we see the show get the audiences it deserves, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Spring Awakening's closure last year must have raised some eyebrows of producers who were planning on bringing shows over from the states, shows that did very well at the Tony Awards. Ironically not long before SA died a death another Tony favourite The Drowsy Chaperone also suffered the same fate (at the same theatre).

I have to say I was very impressed that the Olivier committee gave the small show that vanished too soon the awards. I know many people thought it was a vote of sympathy for the show but I could not disagree more. Out of the category the show competed with the lacklustre Sister Act and two jukebox musicals Priscilla and Dreamboats and Petticoats.  Audience friendly, they may be but creatively bankrupt.

Spring Awakening on the other hand brought something new to the table, something London had not seen in a long time. And it’s not the first Rock Opera to close early in London. In the 90s Rent managed to run for around a year and a half, a far better run than SA but compared to the 11 year run of the show on Broadway it was considered a flop, maybe London just don’t like American rock musicals.

The Oliviers however could have easily given the award to one of the other 3 shows though, after all the other 3 are still running, have touring potential and could boast that ‘WINNER OF THE BEST NEW MUSICAL’   sign in London right now, but they didn’t, the awards went with the smart choice, controversial but smart.

However this new found love for the show won’t be making producers any more confident about bringing inventive and challenging new works over.  As I covered in one of my other blogs the West End seems to be going through somewhat of a lull where the big brash family friendly movies and hen night shows are thriving yet the more inventive shows are crashing and burning.

If Next to Normal, another phenomenal Broadway shows was to come over I suspect that its run would be a brief one in London, however it would walk away with all the awards, it’s just a shame that the awards don’t pay the cost to keep the shows running.

So, Spring Awakening may have vanished from London but the Lawrence Olivier awards proved it was not forgotten, so I hope when the cast enjoyed the party of the awards show they could all celebrate the fact that sometimes bigger isn’t always better and their show was the one left holding the gold.

Congrats Spring Awakening.

- Craig Hepworth


Tagged in this Story