Spring Awakening ( (Broadway: Deaf West)
Closed 2h 20m
Spring Awakening ( (Broadway: Deaf West)
92

Spring Awakening ( (Broadway: Deaf West) NYC Reviews and Tickets

92%
(1413 Reviews)
Positive
96%
Mixed
3%
Negative
1%
Members say
Absorbing, Great staging, Ambitious, Great acting, Must see

About the Show

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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Member Reviews (1413)

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55
Disappointing, Edgy, Intense, 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. Read more

80
Entertaining, Intelligent, Great staging, Original

See it if intelligent innovative staging. Music is still banal and derivative, the story dated. But this production covers it up well in shiny clothes

Don't see it if the staging can be a bit confusing at first but becomes easy to follow in no time

Critic Reviews (61)

The New York Times
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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Time Out New York
September 25th, 2015

"'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."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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The Hollywood Reporter
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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Entertainment Weekly
September 28th, 2015

"It’s been twelve years since Deaf West mounted a Broadway production—let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long for another. Same goes for the immensely talented first time director Arden, who saw the amazing potential of Duncan Sheik’s gorgeous music and knew just what to do to wake up Broadway with it once again. Hopefully there is far more to come from this pairing."
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Variety
September 27th, 2015

"With 'Spring Awakening,' which marks Deaf West’s second major Broadway transfer, the company goes as far as to incorporate the deaf dimension into the plot of the hit musical, transforming a show about the explosive consequences of denying sex-ed to a conservative late-19th-century German community into a critique of deaf education policy at the same time. As such, Deaf West awakens something new in the show, which is not so much a revival as it is a reinvention."
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The Wall Street Journal
October 1st, 2015

"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."
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Deadline
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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The Washington Post
September 27th, 2015

"This moving revival seals a pact with an audience in a gentler manner than the more scaldingly assertive original production...Signing has been integrated here so deftly that you feel the language’s fluidity has a natural place in musical theater...The show’s depiction of teenagers with a need to unyoke themselves from adult control remains vibrantly intact...The rock-infused energy lifts up the entire enterprise. Cue the sign again, for heaven."
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New York Post
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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New York Daily News
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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AM New York
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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NY1
October 1st, 2015

"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."
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Theatermania
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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Talkin' Broadway
September 27th, 2015

"'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."
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CurtainUp
September 26th, 2015

"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."
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Stage Buddy
October 13th, 2015

"At times the show feels like there is too much going on; this makes for an experience that is often more rewarding on an intellectual, rather than an emotional level. It’s actually a show about the art of making theatre, how many people can see themselves in the idea of having someone else voice their feelings. Letting the songs speak for you, allowing them to serve as a slate on which to project your fears, hopes and illusions, that is precisely why people come to see musicals."
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Broadway Blog
October 20th, 2015

"This new production is a wildly impactful and visceral production that goes straight to the heart and doesn’t let go...'Spring Awakening' is as potent as ever...'Spring Awakening,' as evident by the handful of teens waiting in tears by the stage door after the performance I saw, is palpable.
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C
November 17th, 2015

"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."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
October 4th, 2015

"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."
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DC Theatre Scene
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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The Guardian (UK)
September 28th, 2015

"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."
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The Huffington Post
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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The Wrap
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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T
September 30th, 2015

"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."
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Theater In The Now
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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Broadway & Me
October 14th, 2015

"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."
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USA Today
September 27th, 2015

"This new 'Awakening' finds added resonance in the musical's warnings against the tyranny of ignorance and small-mindedness. Director Michael Arden has recruited a superb cast that includes actors from the deaf community, and incorporated American Sign Language into the show...It's a darkly sumptuous, ultimately uplifting feast for the ears and eyes."
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Newsday
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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Towleroad
September 28th, 2015

"Those unfamiliar with the story may find this production’s clumsy handling of its sharp turns jarring rather than emotionally dizzying. The evocative score is rather more atmospheric than plot-driven, a quality mostly unmatched by the production...The company navigate their roles with finesse and feeling...Individual performances and breakthrough moments that marry signing and storytelling make for emotional impact, one that’s felt in fits and starts rather than as major payoff."
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WNBC
September 27th, 2015

"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.'"
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TheaterScene.com
November 4th, 2015

"True, there are lighter, and more feel-good, musicals on Broadway now than 'Spring Awakening.' But Arden proves here that a dark musical can be a very stirring—and soulful--experience. And it just might change your perception of the Deaf community."
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BlogCritics.org
October 2nd, 2015

"Aided by a tight band of strings and drums, by inspired and precise lighting, and by smartly repressed costuming and somber scenic design with a gorgeous surprise at the end, the brilliant direction and choreography turn 'Spring Awakening,' already a fine if unusual musical, into something really special and new."
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DC Metro Theater Arts
September 27th, 2015

"The score serves the story, and is deserving of further study...The rock sound in the score, and the nineteenth century attitudes in the story make an effective and powerful cocktail. The audience, refreshingly young for Broadway, did a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’, and you know what? So did I."
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NJ.com
September 27th, 2015

"Less than a revelation, this new "Spring Awakening" mostly serves as a reaffirmation of the durability and emotional punch of Sheik and Sater's original conception...See this 'Spring Awakening' anyway, because even a flawed performance of this great musical is still better than most of what's on Broadway right now; and because in a few instances — including the final exit of the teenage characters — Arden really has improved upon the original."
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The Associated Press
September 27th, 2015

"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."
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Reflections in the Light
September 28th, 2015

"Let me assure you that Deaf West’s production is well worth seeing...To take in the excellent performances, however, you need to be prepared for potentially offensive content. The show posts a Mature rating and contains nudity and all kinds of sexual activity."
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StageZine
October 5th, 2015

"Michael Arden’s direction and vision are wonderfully executed. However, in the 2006 production, each character was uniquely distinct and identifiable. In this revival, with so many actors (and others doing their voices), the characters are more undistinguishable and the show’s overall impact is less effective."
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As Her World Turns
November 9th, 2015

"Director Michael Arden has staged it with such precision and alchemy, bringing tremendous energy to each number. I challenge you to see this and, regardless of your familiarity with the music, resist the urge to bop along in your seat...Do yourself a favor and see this before it closes in January."
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About Entertainment
October 1st, 2015

"For me it's just that same middling show in an ambitious and well-meaning new package...Director Michael Arden has reimagined every inch of the show, seamlessly interweaving hearing and deaf actors, spoken word and American Sign Language (ASL), into a production that rivals 'Hamilton' in terms of its sheer fluidity and forward motion...This is about as cohesive and powerful a production of this show as I'm ever likely to see."
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Financial Times (UK)
September 29th, 2015

"As the story unfolds, the staging’s clarity starts to falter. The logistics required by the dual casting make plot points occasionally difficult to follow. If communication is your theme, you’d best be sure that you are conveying the narrative clearly. The staging lacks flow, as do the book and lyrics. Smooth flow may be a luxury when adolescent angst is at issue, although a decade ago, before the influence of Glee, this show’s teen choruses felt more authentically jagged, less packaged."
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Broadway Showbiz
October 3rd, 2015

"The show has a talented cast; the lyrics are poignant, and now more than ever it is a powerful show to see...This show is a must see! I wanted to jump up on stage during 'Purple Summer' and chant along with the cast. A perfect night at the theater."
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The Three Tomatoes
October 7th, 2015

"'Spring Awakening' 2015 is quite moving and feels even more organic than the in-your-face, bold original. It flows beautifully, and although not nearly as energetic and explosive, it has it’s own rhythm and spirit."
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Hot Pepper Theater
October 5th, 2015

"An absolutely gorgeous production. It's breathtaking how they meld sign and choreography. It feels more visceral and aggressive than the original. There are a lot of sequences that are really dark which makes it hard to understand what is being signed."
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On Stage Blog
September 27th, 2015

"Director Michael Arden's take on 'Spring Awakening' is not only deeply moving and incredibly brilliant, but it reveals elements and nuances of these characters that we haven't seen before. You'd be hard pressed to argue that the piece shouldn't be performed in this way from now on...Given that this is a special engagement, I cannot recommend seeing this enough. It is undoubtedly one of the most unforgettable theatrical experiences I've seen."
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Broad Street Review
October 3rd, 2015

"It’s early in the theater season for miracles, but we’ve got one already. A company featuring deaf actors is bringing the sound of music to Broadway in a revival even more thrilling than its original production...The combined energy of all these young actors, deaf and hearing (including one actress in a wheel chair), is exhilarating."
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B
October 1st, 2015

"The visual cues and staging were perfect. It all just fits. The end. I think the original production was brilliant, but I felt that there were moments of disconnect to the material. With this revival, everything made sense. Every line, every beat was explored to its full potential and it was executed perfectly."
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The Hollywood Reporter
June 1st, 2015
For a previous production

"The production features exceptional performances, inspired staging and brilliant use of sign language to overcome the Tony-winning musical’s inherent flaws...Arden admirably keeps the show’s many disparate elements in sync, eliciting moving portrayals from his principal actors. And while Steven Sater’s book could use more plotting and better character development, Sheik’s mellifluous melodies carry the material."
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Los Angeles Times
May 29th, 2015
For a previous production

"This version of 'Spring Awakening' must go down as a rousing success. Beyond the enthralling scenic design, the production has a youthful ensemble vigor that reanimates the joyful sense of discovery while recalling the anxiety, sorrow and disillusionment that are every bit as much a part of growing up. Deaf West's admirable inclusiveness seduces us through its artfulness. This is a show for anyone who wants to see a contemporary American musical superbly done."
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Los Angeles Times
September 17th, 2014
For a previous production

"If rippling goosebumps are any indication of emotional involvement, this show delivers...Duncan Sheik's haunting original music and Steven Sater's rawly postmodern book and lyrics were ground-breaking -- ironic counterpoints to the suffocating conventions of the play's period. It's hard to enumerate all the ways in which the Deaf West's 'Awakening' is so very, very good...Compositionally spectacular and emotionally truthful, his 'Awakening' awakens us to the dormant possibilities of this musical, with all the goosebumps and teardrops to prove it."
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Theatermania
June 8th, 2015
For a previous production

"Arden's genius turns sign not only into choreography, but into an expression of rage. Arden does not treat the deaf actors as interchangeable substitutes for the hearing...Director Michael Arden and his cast have shrewdly chosen a tale that subtextually reflects what it can feel like to be deaf in a hearing society. The children in the play and some in the deaf community can be silenced by those in power and treated as irrelevant. But in both circumstances, individuality is stamped out, thereby robbing the world of wise and spirited groups."
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BroadwayWorld
September 17th, 2014
For a previous production

"Arden's gift for knowing how to express the emotion in a scene or a song begins with his sensational casting. What is so terrific about these partnerships is how beautifully they come together to create rich characters that literally spring to multi-dimensional life...This production is full of sensuality, and not only the sexual kind...It's pretty obvious that I adored this production. If you go to the theatre like I do - looking for magic and hoping to moved - I can recommend no better production than Deaf West's 'Spring Awakening'."
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Talkin' Broadway
September 18th, 2014
For a previous production

"The real success of Deaf West's production is that its performers—both deaf and hearing—so beautifully convey the pain and innocence of their characters, you can't help but feel for them...There is quite a bit in Arden's direction that is creative or beautiful, and there's some nice imagery in here. At times, it seems as though the creativity is just there to be creative, without any story- or character-related purpose. But when it all comes together, it is very impressive."
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Stage Raw
September 25th, 2014
For a previous production

"People should see this beautiful show. It is wonderful to see actual kids cast as actual kids...Still, as the production moved earnestly along, I kept wondering why it seemed to be touching all the bases but wasn’t touching my heart...So sentimental, so lacking in anger...The repressed, inarticulate characters are granted four – count ‘em, four -- means of communication: spoken words; sung lyrics; signing; and projections. All of this self-expression serves to remove the psychic barriers that the musical counts on to achieve its effects."
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Stage and Cinema
September 26th, 2014
For a previous production

"Including the original production, this is my fourth time witnessing this 2006 musical phenomenon, and I still find it to be a problematic piece. Yet director Michael Arden and his amalgamated cast of 25 deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing actors have taken this limitation and turned it into the most heartfelt and spectacular production in memory. It is also one of the best offerings from Deaf West in its 24-year history."
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Haines His Way
June 2nd, 2015
For a previous production

"A production that was pure theatrical magic...It’s truly a very rare event in theatre when the writing, direction, concept, acting and technical aspects all come together so seamlessly to create such heartfelt art...Don’t miss it. It is sure to be a theatrical highlight of 2015 just as it was in 2014. And if you were lucky enough to see it, you won’t want to miss this return engagement."
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Arts Beat LA
June 3rd, 2015
For a previous production

"Though highly acclaimed, the musical itself suffers from various insurmountable issues...The cast is young and energetic and all have fine, strong voices. The musicianship is high, too, as delivered by the various live musicians who roam all over the stage, across the balconies and even hang out in the stalls...Yet overall Sater’s lyrics lack the emotional heft necessary for a story that tackles weighty topics such as first love, abuse, rape, incest and abortion...The show is largely enjoyable, and there’s a lot to admire about this complex staging of 'Spring Awakening', but I just felt emotionally unengaged when I should have been gripped by the drama."
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O
October 16th, 2014
For a previous production

"However brilliantly conceived, this production would be nothing in the hands of a lesser ensemble of actors. One thing that struck me was just how young they all seemed...This production took one of my favorite shows and re-imagined it in a way that only brought out more layers of beauty and significance. I was moved, inspired, and truly blown away."
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A Younger Theatre
June 2nd, 2015
For a previous production

"Deaf West’s production of the show does add something new to a musical that is familiar to so many...Unfortunately, the production suffers from a lack of clarity under director Michael Arden. The relationship between the deaf actors and their ‘voices’ is never really defined — sometimes the ‘voices’ act like corporeal friends, while other times, they’re more like the teens’ imaginations brought to life...Deaf West’s 'Spring Awakening' soars to great heights — when it’s good, it’s amazing to behold. But the show also falters too often to warrant a wholehearted recommendation."
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LA Weekly
September 24th, 2014
For a previous production

"The production offers a delicious mixture of singing, movement, musical instruments, supertitles, ropes, flowers, passion and heartbreak, but sign language, with its inherent theatricality, is the main ingredient. The eye never gets bored. And as tough as the high school experience in 1890s Germany may have been, Deaf West's convivial, intimate production makes you envy the support shared among peers."
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N
September 15th, 2014
For a previous production

"How ironic and fascinating it is that the deaf and hard-of-hearing actors in Deaf West Theatre's production of 'Spring Awakening' seem to have the most music within them. It makes sense, however, because what the production appears to attempt to do — and, consequently, what it is wildly successful in accomplishing — is to add another complex, painful layer to the adolescent experience: that of sensory deficiency... It's an unbelievable thing to witness."
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