Friday, January 22, 2016

reviews - SPRING AWAKENING - Spotlight Youth Theatre

Michael Schulz, Payton Bioletto, Vincent Pugliese, Brandon Reyes, and Jeremy Yampolsky
Photo by Alayne Vogel, Memory Layne Photography
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through January 31st.

"...Knowing the show’s heavy sounding subject of teenage sexuality and the sexually oppressive nature of nineteenth century German culture, all while incorporating themes of suicide, puberty, homosexuality and abuse among several others, a youth theatre production of a very adult show would seem a recipe for disaster on several levels… and yet, as presented at Glendale’s Spotlight Youth Theatre under Kenny Grossman’s tight and assured direction, not at all...(the) age-appropriate casting of teenage characters.. surprisingly effective...the end result is quite astonishing....the script is as performed on Broadway without cuts. ...that decision alone should be applauded.
...Sung throughout by capable teenage voices of ranging styles – it’s everything from melodious ballads to pulsating rock – music director Mark 4man and his live band find that ideal balance between performance and support....In terms of its technical credits, Spotlight appears to have gone that extra mile in all departments, resulting with the redesigning of a sparse though superior set design...outstanding period costumes designed by Naomi and Andi Marie Jordon, make-up and hair by Spencer Claus and Angel De Michael and an efficient lighting and sound design from Josh Hontz. Plus, the lively and occasionally footstomping choreography of Lynzee 4man recreates many of the show’s original styled moves, which is exactly what the production requires. There is much to commend, but by character presence and performer’s ability alone its Vincent Pugliese as the intelligent and charismatic Melchoir, Sam Primack as Melchoir’s comical though confused and nervous best friend Moritz, and Payton Bioletto as the innocent, naïve and ultimately tragic central figure Wendla you’ll remember. All three are names to keep in mind and to seek out in future valley productions, beyond a youth theatre setting....."  -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"The Tony winning rock musical Spring Awakening focuses on a group of high school students in 1890s Germany and deals with issues that young adults still encounter today, such as sexual awakening and teen suicide. This very adult show is receiving a terrific production from Spotlight Youth Theatre with an age appropriate cast of teenagers who excel as the young students who struggle to find the truth about life....While director Kenny Grossman, choreographer Lynzee 4man, and the SYT creative team model their efforts on the original Broadway production team's contributions, all of whom were nominated for Tony Awards (winning three), Grossman's team also adds plenty of original touches....4man's energetic, athletic, and stylistic moves are natural expressions of the emotions the teens are dealing with. ...Mark 4Man is one of the best music directors in town and his contributions here are stellar, achieving both a lush sound with rich harmonies from the cast and a full, superb sound from the five-piece band. Also, the intimacy of the SYT space pulls the audience into the emotional content of the show in a way that you just can't get from a big Broadway theater or some of the other larger venues in town. The SYT cast is exceptional, featuring some of the best teen talent in the Valley. Payton Bioletto is Wendla and she plays her in such a naïve, heartbreaking way that you can't help but feel for her and the struggles she encounters. ...Vincent Pugliese instills Melchior with plenty of charm and his handsome, boyish looks and pure voice make it easy to see why so many people are drawn to the character. ...Sam Primack as Moritz perfectly captures the anxiety-ridden nature of the part with a wild hairstyle that is completely in sync with the inner feelings of the character. ...The supporting cast is just as good, including some who have amazing voices. ......Husband and wife Brenda and Ken Goodenberger play the Adult Women and Adult Men. They effectively give each character they play new manners and a different diction or speech pattern to set them apart from the other characters they play....Spring Awakening is a powerful and meaningful show...Presenting this award winning show uncut and complete, with appropriate high school aged actors playing the main roles, adds an entirely new layer to a great story that presents many issues that still resonate today. Spotlight Youth Theatre's production of Spring Awakening is simply stunning."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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