Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Give My Regards to Broadway

Tonight (or well, technically last night now) I went and saw Spring Awakening for the second time, only this time I had stage seats. That's right. I was sitting on the stage with the actors. It was so cool.

Those of you who know me know that I'm a huge theater geek - particularly musical theater. If I had any talent whatsoever and lacked a certain terror of being on stage, I would've pursued musical theater in a heart beat. So it was pretty cool to sit on the stage and feel like a part of the play and see the audience and see the goings on on the stage.

We were sitting way in the back, stage right, which is not so ideal for seeing the actors' faces when they're performing, but is very ideal for being right in the middle of the action. So much happened right in front of us (like the hilariousness that ensues with the piano teacher during The Bitch of Living). The chair next to me was empty, meaning that it was to be occupied by actors. 3 different actors sat next to me. One who's name I don't know because he was an understudy and I lost my slip of paper, and the other two were Gideon Glick (Ernst) and Jonathan B. Wright (Hanschen). I have a massive crush on Jonathan B. Wright and Hanschen is my favorite character, so I was giddy with excitement when he came and plopped down right next to me. I felt bad for him though because I think he was sick (he kept coughing and pulling out a handkerchief). It was cool to hear him sing so close. And at one point he started laughing at something and he snorted and it was so cute. Wow, I'm a dork. After the show, we waited briefly by the stage door and I did get a chance to get JBW's autograph. I told him he was my favorite and I think he's very talented. I thought that would go over better than "I have a huge crush on you..."

Anyway, so the first time I saw Spring Awakening in March, I was really far away. It was great because I got to see everything that was going on. But what was really cool about being so close was that I noticed so much more detail. Like the fact that Moritz is wearing Converse-like shoes. And during the upbeat intense songs, I could feel the stage shaking with their stomps. SO COOL. It was hard for me not to sing along, but I managed. Although, I have to say I think maybe I saw a little too much of Lea Michele (Wendla)... haha. Another cool thing was seeing the actors' faces when they were facing away from the audience and maybe sending each other various looks or kind of goofing around. It was rare, because they are aware of the audience on all sides and keep really good concentration, but every now and then you'd see them break character a little and get a glimpse of how much fun they, as an actor, were having. And to watch them watch the show - you'd think they wouldn't laugh anymore because they see the show every night, but they still do. That's how good it is :-).

Random - one of the first things I noticed on stage, and I kept almost laughing about it at first, is how much the actors - particularly Jonathan Groff (Malchior) - spit. With the lights hitting them at just the right angle, you could see every little droplet. And Jonathan Groff? Oh man, that guy is like a fountain. I don't know how even had that much saliva. It just never stopped. At least it means they're projecting though... Haha. I felt kinda bad for the audience in the very front row though at times.

One really cool moment was when all the little blue lights came floating down right before the sex scene and the platform rises up. That felt pretty magical to be on stage while that was happening. Like a fairytale. (Unfortunately you can't see the little blue lights in this picture). And another really cool moment: at the end, we got to see what a standing ovation in a Broadway theater looks like, which is not something I ever anticipated being able to say.

The downside of sitting on the stage (which is why I don't recommend it if you haven't already seen the show from the audience) is that it is really hard to see the actors' faces at times and sometimes the sound is not so great because you're right by the orchestra pit, so that can be overpowering. If you know the show though, you can pick out the vocal parts more easily because your ear will find them instinctively. But I have to say, one of my favorite moments - the scene with Hanschen and Ernst where they make out - was just not quite as good from where I was sitting. I mean, the making out part was awesome. I had a really good view for that. But when they start singing The Word of Your Body (Reprise), I love when Hanschen hands Ernst the microphone and then takes it away again and takes over Ernst's solo. Both of their faces were just so priceless in that scene when I saw it from the audience and I couldn't see their faces at all from where I was.

I have to say I was saddened by Lilli Cooper's (Martha) absence. She has a very strong voice. The girl who was her understudy was pretty good too, but it just wasn't quite the same. Luckily though, my three favorites were there: JBW (as I've already said), John Gallagher, Jr. (Moritz), and Lauren Pritchard (Ilse). Lauren Pritchard has pretty much one of the most amazing voices I've ever heard. It has this richness to it that just astounds me. And even though her character is minor in terms of actual plot time, she has a great deal of vocal solos, which is awesome. As you can see below, 2 of my 3 favorite songs from the show feature her. And as for John Gallagher, Jr., well, he won a Tony, so obviously he's great. But beyond that, he's also so nice. I have a bit of a crush on him too. Both times that I've gone and waited outside the stage door, he's always stayed the longest, signing everyone's everything and taking pictures - sometimes twice - with anyone who asks. And he thanks every single person so sincerely and talks to them and seems like he really is listening to what they are saying. Most of the cast seems pretty nice too though, and they're all extremely talented. So don't be outraged if I neglected one of your faves. They're all great!

So, in conclusion, it was an amazing experience. I'd like to go again, but you have to buy tickets so far in advance (I bought tickets for tonight back in May) that I'm not sure who would be in the cast at that point, so I dunno if I will. I would also like to see it from the audience once more. Maybe I will student rush it. Although I feel like there are so many other plays I should spend my money on that I haven't already seen (twice)... But it's just so good!

And now my three favorite songs from Spring Awakening (although it's so hard to pick! There are so many amazing songs!):

I'm so giddy with excitement still that I don't think I'm going to sleep very well tonight. Tata dahlings.

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