Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

In the Spring of 2020, a week into the Department of Theatre and Dance rehearsals for their upcoming musical “Spring Awakening,” West Chester University closed down with the onset of a global pandemic. Professor and director of “Spring Awakening,” Charlie DelMarcelle wanted to bring this show back for the Fall of 2022 to finish a run cut short.

“Spring Awakening,” a play written in 1891 by Frank Wedekind, depicts schoolchildren in an 1890s German provincial town whose struggle to reconcile their budding sexual feelings with the moral code of their society leads them to tragedy. Someone may ask, why does “Spring Awakening,” a show that originated in 1891, resonate in this day and age? Professor DelMarcelle responds, “I want audiences to talk about this show when they leave, I want it to affect them.” He continues, “the audience needs to realize that each one of them have a voice, and especially because of everything that has happened recently with Roe V. Wade being overturned, you need

to use that voice.” From a director and faculty perspective, this show is extremely powerful. And the effect on students involved in this production is evident.

April Marion, a senior theatre major, was cast as Wendla her freshman year at West Chester and was devastated when Covid shut down her first college production. “After a whole year of accepting it probably would not come back, we heard that it would be put on the following fall. At the time it felt like a dream come true. I had developed a strong relationship with the character Wendla and saw a lot of myself in her, so the opportunity to bring her back to life felt amazing.” She says that “even in the rehearsal process, it still feels very unreal to put this show on. There are a lot of happy tears that happen in rehearsal. I am beyond grateful for Charlie for always supporting this show that means so much to all of us. It is so amazing to share the stage with so many people, new and old, who have gained such a strong bond, and feel as passionate as I do.”

This show is bringing back old characters with a completely reimagined concept. Marion talks more about the specific connections she can see reflected in the musical to today’s news. She says, “Three years ago, the issues of mental health were very prominent. The show exhibits the consequences of silencing adolescents. Now, after three years, Roe V. Wade has been overturned. People with uteruses officially have fewer rights than people without. And people are not getting the proper sex education.”

Not only will college students enjoy the beautiful music, stunning lighting and awe-inspiring dancing in this production, but they will also see themselves in this musical. The reason why we need to put this production on over 130 years after the original play was first written is because similar things are still happening today. Children are struggling and those in power are deaf to our cries for help. This musical gives us a voice and inspires us to use our voices for change.

The Department of Theatre and Dance at West Chester University presents “Spring Awakening” in the Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre, Swope Performing Arts Center. Show dates are October 20, 21, and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and October 22 and 23 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $12 plus processing fee and can be purchased online at www.wcupa.edu/TheatreDanceTickets. Audiences are encouraged to purchase online. Available tickets will be sold at the door prior to each performance. Content warning: nudity, rape, suicide and violence.

Rachel Yates is a second-year theatre major with minors in digital media marketing and American Sign Language. 

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