Deaf West’s Spring Awakening: Closing Night on Broadway

This is not a review in the traditional sense, because I could never write a coherent review for this show. I have too much of an emotional connection to it, and this production has had too much of an impact on me for me to look at it from a critical perspective. So this is a disclaimer that this post will mostly be me raving about the show.

So, I had the immense opportunity to catch the very last performance of the Spring Awakening revival, and let me tell you, it was an incredible experience. I’d never before seen anything closing night on Broadway, and the energy was unlike anything I’d ever seen. I’m talking 5-minute bouts of applause after every number. The actors themselves were entirely bursting with energy onstage. I’d only seen this show once before, back in October, and while I had loved it then, this performance in particular blew me away.

What was really cool about this closing performance was that inevitably, the audience entirely consisted of pretty die-hard fans of the show. Which meant that there was huge applause anytime any of the memorable moments happened – Sean Grandillo’s Bobby Maler thing, Ali Stroker being Maria wheelin’, Alex Wyse’s “Touch Me” solo and Andy Mientus’s death drop. It was just totally wild.

It was also really interesting as an audience member who is fairly knowledgeable about this production and knowing it was the closing performance. I was trying to see absolutely everything, trying to catch every single detail in the show. Things like, the way Ernst stands with the girls during “The Dark I Know Well” while the guys are on the other side looking threatening. Or Austin McKenzie watching Wendla in a pretty creepy way during “Mama Who Bore Me”. Or Ernst lingering on the teddy bear when he helps Moritz pack up his stuff (yeah, I was pretty much watching Josh Castille as Ernst the whole time).

And then, there was the song “Totally Fucked”. Which totally f*cked me up. We’re talking show-stopping standing ovation at the end of the song, which was obviously well-deserved. Oh man, is that song well-placed, especially since I was bawling after “Left Behind”. You absolutely need this angry song after all the sadness to really get you going. It’s just this big release, and it feels SO GOOD.

After the show, Michael Arden made a speech, followed by Steven Sater. His speech in particular just made me completely lose it – he talked a lot about what Spring Awakening means to him personally, and I was entirely in tears, because he was describing pretty much exactly what it means to me. There’s some good footage of the speeches on YouTube, and you should definitely check it out.

That’s all I’m going to say for now. I could go on for ages about SA, but I’ll save that for future blog posts. If you don’t know this show, please, please check it out. The revival will be touring in the future, so watch out for that, too.


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