Spring Awakening

Jayne Hubbard as Wendla, and Michael Krenning as Melchior. Photo by Connor McIlqquham.

Spring Awakening is back in Seattle. The hit 2006 musical by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik is the winner of seven 2007 Tony’s, including Best Musical, and the recent Deaf West production received multiple Tony nominations a few weeks back. The show has played Seattle before as part of a national tour at the Paramount, as well as an acclaimed staging at the late Balagan Theatre Company. A new production from the new-to-Seattle Theatre Company, Basement Theatrics, starts this week at 12th Avenue Arts.

The rock musical based on the eponymous German play (1891) by Frank Wedekind, and set in late 19th-century Germany, tells the story of teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of teenage sexuality. Playing the two leads in Basement Theatrics’ production are Jayne Hubbard as Wendla and Michael Krenning as Melchior–think Tony and Maria with ten times the angst and tragedy.

Hubbard is making her Seattle debut with this production of Spring Awakening. After growing up in Orange County, California, she has recently relocated to Seattle to pursue theatre as well as a degree at Seattle Pacific University in theatre and music.

Krenning, also seen in the ensemble at Balagan, is a native to the greater Seattle area. His first professional theatre experience was in Balagan Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening in 2012. Michael is currently a marketing intern at Village Theatre as well as a Marketing student at Western Washington University.

Spring Awakening is the defining pre-Hamilton musical. How did you first learn about the show? Were you coveting the roles you got in this production?

Jayne: I remember first hearing about the musical in 7th grade. A few of my friends in my middle school show choir learned all of the harmonies from the Mama Who Bore Me Reprise and would sing it at recess. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I fell in love with the music first, then after researching the plot more, I fell in love with the story. I honestly never imagined I would ever be cast in any production of Spring Awakening. It is such rough material that needs to be performed with a young group of actors. Finding a company that is open to that isn’t very common. That being said, Moshe did such a phenomenal job casting. I never imagined myself in this part, but now that I have been cast, I find myself connecting to Wendla in different ways every day.

Michael: I first learned about the show during my junior year of High School, but didn’t really start thinking about it until I heard about auditions for Balagan’s production. Being in the ensemble for that production was a terrific experience and has instilled a memory I will forever cherish –“all shall know the wonder.” I’ve always wanted to do Spring Awakening again as one of the principal characters and am thrilled I have the opportunity to play Melchior. During the audition process it was the roles of Melchior and Moritz I sought, though I have also had an interest in playing Georg or Ernst.

Jayne, your role is certainly controversial. What do you love and what do you hate about Wendla?

Jayne: There is so much to love about Wendla. She is so honest and caring. Her thirst for knowledge is inspiring and her drive to just plainly live is contagious. Wendla just has a light in her that cannot be dimmed. I wouldn’t say there is anything I really HATE about her, but sometimes I wish she would appreciate what she has. She has a bad habit of trying to create trouble for herself to gain knowledge and have new experiences. Sometimes, I wish she would just realize not everyone lives in a safe home and has loving supporting friends like she does.

What are your favorite and least favorite songs from Spring Awakening?

Jayne: Nothing compares to each rehearsal when the cast nails the harmonies and dynamics in Purple Summer. The song was written for the actors to sing as ourselves at the end of the show. As we circle up and look at one another, we can’t help but smile, knowing we’ve created something beautiful. I can’t lie, when listening to the Broadway Recording before getting cast, I was never a fan of the song The Guilty Ones. I thought it was slow and anti-climactic. Now after learning the music, adding the cast and choreography, I know it’s going to be a number the entire audience will fall in love with as much as the cast and I did.

Michael: My favorite song overall is Touch Me. I always completely lose myself during that number. My favorite part to sing is Melchior’s solo during Mirror Blue Night. I don’t have a part that is “least favorite” per se, but it is always a little tough to barely be into act 2 and have to sing an emotional number such as Left Behind. It is a beautiful piece nonetheless.

Wendla and Melchior share some intimate moments together? What have you done to create that with your characters?

Michael: Jayne and I have been honest with each other and have established clear communication. We keep it fun and were unafraid to make light-hearted jokes when blocking our darker and/or intimate scenes. She’s also wonderful and very easy to be around so establishing a comfortable area was still a process but not problematic.

Jayne: I had never met Michael until our first callbacks during the casting process. I could feel the click on our first read together. I think we have great stage chemistry. Moshe made him and I go on a fake date early on haha. We learned more about each other and have become good friends throughout the rehearsal process. He is such a great guy and he has been so much fun to work with. We always find moments to laugh about our more intense scenes together and save the seriousness for the stage.

Basement Theatrics is a new kid on the block doing a show that has been through town a few times before. What do you think is special or unique about this production?

Jayne: Every element of this show flows so well together from the music direction by John Lehrack, to the choreography by Elizabeth Richmond Posluns, to of course our direction by Moshe Henderson. Each element becomes cohesive with the contagious energy of the cast; it makes for a truly beautiful show.

Michael: This production had the advantage of many of our cast members being new to each other or having known very little about the others; I think this allowed for an honest discovery among the actors with very few pre-conceived notions. Also, because this is a new company there is this drive to see this show do well and this definitely reflected in the cast and crew’s work ethic.

What would you say are your characters’ defining line or lyric?

Jayne: “ -And he touched me, and I let him love me. So let that be my story.”

Michael: “One day, all will know” is Melchior’s defining lyric though his lines regarding “the stars” are also highly important. He says both of these throughout the show and they are a reflection of the journey he has been on. When he first says “one day, all will know” he is declaring that it will be because of him and other knowledge-seekers that all will know they have limited views by strictly adhering to their religions and norms, but by the end of the show Melchior realizes he has been foolish in thinking all it will take is the literal search for knowledge. Knowledge without wisdom is dead, and Melchior hopes for a world where all will know the same virtues and lessons he has learned from his fallen friends.

What roles do you have coming up next?

Jayne: I plan on taking the next month and a half or so off and spending my time with family back in California. I plan on auditioning for Seattle Pacific University’s exciting upcoming season, and keeping my eyes on TPS audition postings.

Michael: I can next be seen as Man 1 in SecondStory Repertory Theatre’s production of Songs for a New World. You can also catch me in Village Theatre’s 2016-2017 Season as I make my mainstage debut in their production of A Proper Place.

Spring Awakening runs July 22-July 31, 2016 (press night Saturday, July 23, 2016) at 12th Avenue Arts (1620 12th Avenue, Seattle). For tickets ($20 youth and $25 general) and information, please visit basementtheatrics.org. Tickets may also be purchased via Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006 or btsa.bpt.me.