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Spring Awakening (Deaf West)

Members say: Absorbing, Great staging, Ambitious, Must see, Great acting
91
Critics
81
61 reviews
Members
92
1383 reviews
 

A revival of the Tony Award-winning rock musical about teenagers discovering the tumult of sexuality, is presented by Deaf West, performed in both American Sign Language and spoken English.

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Rebellious teenagers take a provocative journey from adolescence to adulthood in this powerful celebration of self-discovery in oppressive times. A rock musical adaptation of the 1892 German play of the same title by Frank Wedekind. It will be performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken (and sung) English. With a score by Duncan Sheik, this story of youth and sexuality seeks to awaken audience passion.

 

Cast & Creatives (41)



Reviews (1444)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
81
Avg Score

90
The New York Times

"One of the great musicals of the last decade was born anew on Sunday, when the thrillingly inventive Deaf West Theater production of 'Spring Awakening' opened on Broadway. Any qualms theater-lovers might have about this being a premature, whiplash-inducing revival will vanish like frost in strong sunlight when the young cast of both hearing and deaf actors floods the stage...A first-rate production of a transporting musical." Full Review

70
New York Post

"It works better than you might expect and it’s a treat to see Camryn Manheim juggle a couple of parts and give voice to Marlee Matlin, sadly underused. But this slick 'Spring Awakening' also snuffs out any emotional rawness. The kids are meant to be a mess of confusion and frustrated horniness, but here they’re so wholesome, you can almost picture them polishing their application to Juilliard...Admiring this revival’s feat is one thing. Feeling for it - that’s something else." Full Review

90
Theatermania

"A thrilling new look at a musical that still bears hidden treasures nine years after its debut...Everything benefits from director Michael Arden's muscular approach. Arden brings instruments into the mise-en-scène in a manner reminiscent of John Doyle. Arden's Brechtian embrace of theatricality proves to be vital to the epic theater of adolescence...This revival is that rare reimagining that furthers the themes of the original work, rather than plastering over them with an auteur's vision." Full Review

60
Time Out New York

"'Spring Awakening’s original production' ingeniously integrated 19th-century and modern imagery to thrilling effect. Here, with the interpolation of signing and doubled actors, the integration suffers, having a third performance vocabulary to juggle. The score still sounds great, but it’s just not as fluidly performed to maximize the emotional impact...For all of the valid reservations one can have about this experiment, there’s still beauty to admire, if you’re willing to hear." Full Review

90
New York Magazine / Vulture

"This revival would have been unjustifiable were it not for the brilliant idea of placing the story in the context of deafness and using many deaf actors to tell it...Deafness is not a random overlay on 'Spring Awakening' or a trendy gimmick hatched to sell it...I liked the new production better than the original." Full Review

75
The Huffington Post

"Today's 'Spring Awakening' is a worthy production of the show, but that's it. You left the original production wanting to tell friends they had to see it, just like 'Hamilton' today; you are likely to leave this one saying it's fine, especially if you've always wanted to see 'Spring Awakening.' Not the same thing." Full Review

80
The Guardian (UK)

"The production has been billed as a radical reimagining of the show. But those who saw the original Broadway production will find this one – with its minimal setting and maximal passion – reliably familiar, though with some themes and concerns clearly sharpened. It isn’t perhaps as well-sung as the original one and in some cases not as well-acted, though in others, like Krysta Rodriguez’s Ilse, it is perhaps acted better." Full Review

85
Theater Life

"The juxtaposition of the story's 1891 setting and the intense, heart-pumping, contemporary score by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater remains fresh, but the added element of a combined deaf and hearing cast gives 'Spring' an extra jolt...'Spring Awakening' is a refreshing challenge to the rigid Broadway template." Full Review

95
DC Theatre Scene

"By cleverly pairing deaf actors who are signing with hearing actors who are singing, Deaf West has made the show the most accessible on Broadway, but also forged it into something theatrically exceptional...That such a show should be so joyful and so beautiful — from the evocative lighting to the hand ballet of sign language by the entire cast — is itself a sign: Deaf West has done it right." Full Review

85
Theatre's Leiter Side

"Sheik’s music emphasizes beat over melody, offering insufficient variety...Sater’s lyrics have punch but can be unsubtle...Arden and Liff keep the actors moving in interesting formations...Wedekind’s play is fully realized in the dynamic staging, but there’s also a cool grayness that creates a sense of distance...This doesn’t detract from the superlative performances." Full Review

45
The Hollywood Reporter

"Arriving so soon after Michael Mayer's viscerally impactful premiere production, this underpowered, unexceptionally sung version seems more of a special presentation than a wholesale reinvention...It's not so much the cast as the concept that only half works here...While the intent merits applause, the execution is not sufficiently fresh or Broadway-caliber to justify the swift return." Full Review

85
The Wall Street Journal

"Few things in theater are rarer than a production so fine that it cries out to be seen in spite of the show, but that’s the case with Deaf West’s 'Spring Awakening:' It ranks among the most emotionally charged renderings of a musical to come to Broadway in the past decade, one that all who love the genre should rush to see." Full Review

85
AM New York

"An inspired and innovative revival that incorporates American Sign Language...Although it's hard to shake off memories of the brilliant original production, Arden's revival is visually stunning, emotionally poignant and thoroughly exciting in its own right." Full Review

70
Talkin' Broadway

"'Spring Awakening' is just not a good musical...A smarmy evening that, as writing, satisfies on no theatrical level...You are not supposed to think about any of this. That's why Arden and Deaf West are making something akin to magic here: Their application of their issues guides us to 'Spring Awakening' on their terms, which are vastly more compelling than the show's. I cared about the struggle of the deaf children in an uncaring, hearing world. They convinced me of the virtues of silence." Full Review

85
New York Daily News

"In Deaf West's exhilarating reboot of the moody and stirring 2007 Tony winner, the repressed and rudderless kids are lifting more than their voices. They’re also raising their hands to express themselves — and casting a whole new spell. The show combines hearing and non-hearing actors who use American Sign Language. Some roles are played by two actors — one who sings, one who signs. Many in the cast do both at once. The result: Lines and lyrics look as poetic and provocative as they sound." Full Review

90
Deadline

"This intoxicating production kicks the power of Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s propulsive musical into a higher sphere altogether. And yet it seems truer in spirit than even the original 2006 production to Frank Wedekind’s daring, scandal-making play about teens on the verge of a sexual breakdown...The only shadow cast here is of great musical-theater making. The lighting may be dappled but 'Spring Awakening' is brilliant." Full Review

85
CurtainUp

"This unique packaging of a more than hundred-year-old play as a rock popera has returned to Broadway, proving once again that if the music is appealing enough and the story's themes enduring, directorial brilliance and originality can strike more than once...This cast of mostly unknowns couldn't be better...Deaf West's translation adds a subtle artistic layer that actually deepens and enriches the story telling." Full Review

95
Theater In The Now

"Deaf West, Michael Arden, and their extraordinary team reinvented this ravishing musical and created something truly mesmerizing...This production is not only important, it deserves to be seen by an even wider audience...Deaf West Theatre’s 'Spring Awakening' is one that will go down in the history books. It’s quite extraordinary when you can improve upon perfection. Dare I say, it's better than the original." Full Review

90
The Associated Press

"The result is an exhilarating and fluid hybrid of song, word, dance and sign — and a sheer triumph for director Michael Arden and choreographer Spencer Liff. The songs sit seamlessly in the show, often as brightly lit fantasy sequences that snap back into the grim narrative...If anything, the brilliant staging reveals chips and holes in the book and lyrics, which simply don't measure up to the ingeniousness of the new show itself." Full Review

80
Newsday

"The results are moving and both visually and musically impressive, if ultimately a bit repetitious. Although the production never quite delivers the knotted punch of the sharp-edged original, the teens' stifled internal lives roil with the power of outsider-ness and communication crises that transcend straightforward storytelling." Full Review

75
The Wrap

"Well before the end of act one, you find yourself no longer looking for the speaking actor...And certainly by the end of act two, you’ll wonder why all actors in all musicals don’t use American Sign Language to convey what they’re singing...Director Arden is much better when he just mixes things up. Especially inventive are his use of posters, projection of words and silences. Sometimes he shows amazing restraint and creativity." Full Review

75
CitiTour

"While Arden creates some truly beautiful stage pictures, at other moments, the enterprise simply feels overpopulated. Similarly, Spencer Liff’s clever choreography stunningly incorporates ASL (American Sign Language) as well as a wide vocabulary of dance, but ultimately isn’t quite as groundbreaking as Bill T. Jones’ movement for the original...Even with a few missteps though, this production is worth every second of your time, if just to take in the glorious songs." Full Review

80
WNBC

"Theatergoers coming to this raw story for the first time will find a musical with even more layers than the production that first seduced Broadway. The addition of sign language encourages a closer look at 'Spring Awakening.'" Full Review

65
Broadway & Me

"I wasn't really moved by the production itself...I was intrigued by the new production’s concept of highlighting the miscommunication between the generations by making many of the youngsters deaf and literally unable to speak to their parents or hear them...When I actually saw the show, I found its conceit of having deaf actors sign their dialogue and song lyrics while hearing actors simultaneously speak and sing the same lines to be distracting and to lessen the emotion." Full Review

85
NY1

"The students and grownups speak a different language, and the use of American Sign Language provides a metaphorical layer to the generational divide. Conceptually, it is an inspired touch, but Michael Arden’s meticulous direction adds the poetry and emotion that gives this version its resonance...It is all intricately woven, featuring deaf and hearing actors who both sign and sing...The staging, graced with beautifully evocative choreography and design elements, make for a moving experience." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
92
Avg Score

79
Absorbing, Ambitious, Riveting, Confusing, Great singing

See it if you like a rock-score musical of teenage angst, at times very sad, in an interesting/innovative production that falls short of the original.

Don't see it if you are looking for a feel good, happy, uplifting show

100
Exquisite, Great acting, Great singing, Important

See it if you are looking for a show that is very relevant to young people but can give interesting perspectives everyone. This show is partly in ASL.

Don't see it if subjects such as sex, rape, child cruelty, and nudity make you too unconfortable.

100
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Profound

See it if You want to be moved and inspired by a deeply profound and inspiring concept (using Deaf West). This show was simply amazing!

Don't see it if You are easily offended by strong themes such as sex.

100
Enchanting, Exquisite, Great acting, Great writing, Great singing

See it if you adore sensitive, intelligent lyrics and book and exquisitely beautiful music, including alternative rock, well staged and performed.

Don't see it if you dislike historical musicals, explicit adolescent hetero- and homosexual sensuality, or challenge to Lutheranism/conservative religion.

55
Edgy, Intense, Disappointing, Insipid, Unpleasant

See it if you like rock musicals about teens. To me, the plot and songs were unappealing. Interesting approach to include deaf actors on stage.

Don't see it if you're sensitive to loud sound. Weird juxtaposition of old story with modern music. This just didn't work for me.

Also I'm catching up on reviewing shows I saw. Many people loved this Sprin... Read more Read less

100
Absorbing, Exquisite, Profound, Resonant, Great writing

See it if You understand the pressures of adolescence (or want to), want to be immersed in truly beautiful music, see the harm ignorance can cause

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with partial nudity, teenagers exploring sex and sexuality, tragedy at the hands of ignorant and controlling parents

90
Ambitious, Must see, Romantic, Confusing, Entertaining

See it if Talented deaf actors signing to express the music and dance of this show with the assistance of fabulous musicians.

Don't see it if You are offended by nudity or don't like rock music.

77
Intelligent, Profound, Disappointing, Entertaining

See it if if you like the music

Don't see it if you only like conventional theatre

92
Absorbing, Intelligent, Masterful, Great staging

See it if you want to see an amazing story told ina unique way with ASL added in an innovative way.

Don't see it if n/a - closed

Also Great and moving show.... Read more Read less

89
Absorbing, Clever, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if Innovative production, great music, beautiful revival.

Don't see it if you won't, it closed.

95
Original, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great staging

See it if you want to see a creative, unique revival that improves on an already-stellar original.

Don't see it if you are a fundamentalist prude.

79
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Refreshing, Indulgent, Great staging

See it if You want to see brilliant staging and choreography complemented by beautiful music and a moving story.

Don't see it if You like your musicals happy; you're not a fan of the original musical.

Also As the show progresses, the brilliant simplicity of the sign language ... Read more Read less

76
Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you liked the original spring awakening. I found the show much more confusing then the first. The first I really enjoyed, this not as much.

Don't see it if you are looking for a traditional musical. Can be confusing on who to focus on when watching the characters perform.

73
Ambitious, Intelligent, Must see, Refreshing, Cliched

See it if you enjoy coming of age stories. Told in a unique way. Important performance.

Don't see it if you want a show that is light hearted

91
Ambitious, Edgy, Refreshing, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy a reimaging of an already groundbreaking production; the addition of ASL took this show to a new level

Don't see it if you want a classical musical or want a light-hearted experience

82
Great acting, Intelligent, Banal, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you want to see amazing staging and choreography and a decent story and songs.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of a rock score or do not want to see the problems of adolescence.

93
Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Great staging

See it if If you want to see a truly relevant and genius revival with amazing performances and direction.

Don't see it if If you didn't like the original and don't like rock music. Or if you don't like sexually explicit content.

81
Delightful, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if Good show

Don't see it if No reason not to see it

86
Absorbing, Ambitious, Profound, Riveting, Great staging

See it if you'd like to see an emotionally stirring and visually dynamic revival of Spring Awakening, commenting on both sexual and deaf repression

Don't see it if this will be your first time seeing Spring Awakening or have no clue what the story is about

91
Profound, Riveting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if Wow. I think it was better than the original. I want to learn sign language now.

Don't see it if You can't absorb coming of age complexity.

90
Original, Clever, Edgy, Profound, Refreshing

See it if you're interested in the Deaf West interpretation, you loved the original.

Don't see it if you disliked the story content or musical of the original, you aren't okay with the use of captioning at points to add accessibility.

85
Original, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if you enjoy a clever, inclusive approach to theatre which is emotionally charged and resounding in multiple ways.

Don't see it if you did not like the music in the original, you're heartless and find ASL distracting and reading subtitles from the blackboard annoying.

100
Original, Ambitious, Clever, Exquisite, Masterful

See it if you want to see revivals redefined. Such an original interpretation of this material by Arden's team, with brilliant incorporation of ASL.

Don't see it if you're looking for a family show, or classic tunes. This is a heavy, hard-hitting show.

95
Ambitious, Exquisite, Masterful, Must see, Profound

See it if You want to be blown away by the storytelling created using sign language and music/speaking. You want to see something truly original.

Don't see it if Stories of suicide, child abuse, teen pregnancy, and abortion are too much for you.

85
Original, Ambitious, Exquisite, Refreshing, Resonant

See it if an exhilarating reminder of the aesthetic beauty of inclusivity. The sign language is gorgeous and innovative, the performers are marvelous

Don't see it if many of the choices are a bit literal or heavy handed, which might bother you if you already find the material a little on-the-nose