In a taut and stirringly acted version of the Steven Sater-Duncan Sheik musical “Spring Awakening,” based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 drama, adolescent characters grapple with sexuality and rage at the repressive adult world … Co-directors Mark A. Rhea and Susan Marie Rhea’s production of the Tony-winning musical features a cast of gifted young actors who turn in eloquent portraits of passion, frustration and vulnerability. In the show’s opening sequence, the heroine Wendla (Ali Hoxie) cuts a wistful figure as she stands on a terrace, unleashing the yearning in the number “Mama Who Bore Me.”
As is the case with other performers in the production, Hoxie has a melodious voice that will no doubt gain strength later in her career. Music director and pianist Jake Null leads the fine 10-person orchestra, which sits onstage, beneath the terrace.”
Minutes later, on the stage’s main level, schoolboy characters in gray uniforms storm through the song “The B—- of Living,” stomping on the floor, brandishing chairs like shields and, in the case of one performer, bouncing — soles of the feet making contact, body horizontal — off the theater’s side wall. (Assistant director Kurt Boehm is choreographer.) The energy that surges through this number — and through Allan Sean Weeks’s rock-concert lighting design — courses, subtly or obviously, through the entire production.
Vincent Kempski is particularly charismatic as the smart, mutinous hero Melchior…The vocally gifted Paul Scanlan brings a persuasive desperation and restlessness to the misfit Moritz, Nora Palka is poignantly scarred and waifish as the outcast Ilsa, and Sarah Chapin radiates trauma as an abused girl named Martha.