There is a rare blossom on Broadway in SPRING AWAKENING. I was not a fan of the original. Belting in a song should be used like salt; sparingly. I love rock music, but felt assaulted the first time I saw SPRING AWAKENING on Broadway. Everything was on the same loud level. This new production, inclusive in every way possible, seems to take you thru the looking-glass to a world where communication is the key to everything. The parents don’t know how to communicate with the kids, the kids don’t understand their world or even their feelings and it is completely logical that they would use any means necessary to push through their thoughts and desires, including sign language and song. Even the orchestrations have more finesse this time around. Toward the end of the song “The Dark I Know Well,” about abuse, each of the girls affected slowly take their place behind Ilse. Then a boy, reluctant at first, and finally raising his head in song, joins the group and you know, you are in the hands of a masterful director. Bravo Michael Arden. Spring blooms anew.
If you saw the original production of FOOL FOR LOVE downtown at Circle Rep. or the Fairbanks in the early ‘80s, then you already know the one trick this pony can deliver. Even with two radiant actors like Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell giving it their all, it’s still just a slim piece of a play. You’ve got the set-up of young turbulent love, but once you know the twist, there’s just not much else there. Some wacky, over the top sound and lighting effects and an older gentleman addressing the audience and acting like he stumbled in from another show, but that’s just dressing. The set, appropriately, looks like it’s been held in storage since the original run. The direction is facile, although I dislike it when actresses are asked to strip down and put on stockings as part of their actions. I find it puerile, demeaning and unnecessary. If you haven’t seen the show before or if you are a fan of the cast, then this is pretty much as good as this show will get. Sorry Sam Shepard.