Front Row Reviewers

Hart Theater Company’s “Spring Awakening” Will Awaken Each Audience Member to What Beautiful Theater is All About

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

Review By Colin Wayne, Front Row Reviewers

Spring Awakening at the Hart Theater Company in Salt Lake City performing now through June 2nd exemplifies how rich an up and coming theater can be. Founders Emily Wells and Paul McGrew hurtle into their third season with this stellar production.

Hart Theater’s Spring Awakening places a sharp emphasis on vocals, with a bracing score of melody and story by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater. On just a few platforms hung with Chase Ramsey’s rustic designs – hinting at what’s broken – the opening notes sung by lead actor Tearza Foyston as Wendla, snapped me to attention and I knew I was in for something truly special. Each number in this opus is executed with astonishing skill by a uniformly talented gang of vocalists. Add to that choreographer Izzy Arrieta’s illuminating movement and we are immersed into a classroom of oppressed, and therefore rebellious, students breaking free of physical, psychological, and societal confinement.

Lead actor Maxx Teuscher plays the boyfriend of Wendala. His Mechior has an iconoclastic take on education that frees Wendla’s mind and body. Teuscher’s sublime voice is expressive and powerful, making awesome choices that exhibit his absolute control. I couldn’t wait for his next song as the evening progressed. Rocking the house to its timbers was another jaw-dropping vocalist, Geoff Beckstrand, playing Moritz, a hapless classmate to the leads. Beckstrand gives us some of the night’s most moving, and yes, chilling moments. The entire cast are accomplished vocalists, with Sam Torres as Ilse, Noah Lee as Otto, and Eric J. McGinnis as Georg giving me experiences I will particularly remember.

Brooklynn Kohler’s direction came to my mind when I realized how each scene follows the other with alacrity as the flow of actors on and off stage allows the plot to sweep forward. A deft hand, indeed. It clarified character relationships and musical transitions. The live band led by Jonathan McDonald deserves high praise as well; a tight quintet of keyboard, lead and bass guitars, drums, and the wonderful cellist, Risa Bean, adding a depth of feeling fitting to the emotions Spring Awakening stirs up. What a treat it is to have a live combo instead of an orchestra smothering the space. Musical Director Ginger Bess strikes a perfect balance.

Balanced, too, is the lighting design by Kyle Esposito. Only after leaving the theater did I realize how integral the lights were to maintaining focus and enhancing critical moments. But I did notice how well strategized the costume changes were as they evolved, signaling growing self-awareness of the characters; a subtle and clever job by costume designer Emily Wells.

I did not intend to write a review. But as I watched Spring Awakening, my head filled with superlatives. Each actor had specific tonalities that distinguished them from each other. Though some character roles were small, I still wanted to hear more from each and every one of them. Spring Awakening is about young people boxed in by “normal” society based on a work of the same title by playwright, Frank Wedekind, a German writing, believe it or not, in 1890. It is “Lit!” in today’s vernacular and it is performed with a level of depth and dedication that gave me joy to be in the room with them.
If there’s one show that deserves to be seen this season it’s Hart Theater Company’s Spring Awakening. It’s the best show I’ve seen in a long while.

Hart Theater Company presents Spring Awakening with music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater.
Hart Theater Company, 740 W 1700 S Suite #6, Salt Lake City, UT 84104 Lightree Studios
May 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30-31; June 1 7:30 PM, May 5, 12, 19, 26 and June 2 4:00 PM
Tickets: $26.21-31.46
Hart Theater Company Facebook Page
Hart Theater Company Instagram
Spring Awakening Promo video one
Spring Awakening Promo video two
Donate on Venmo: @harttheaterco

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers


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