Thursday, January 23, 2014

Spring Awakening By Northcoast Prep

NCPA Cast of Spring Awakening
Northcoast Prepatory and Performing Arts Academy performed two plays last weekend: an original musical approach to Shaw's Pygmalion (directed by Gretha Omey Stenger) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 23) through Sunday plus a Sunday matinee at 1, and Spring Awakening, a drama with music and dance for mature audiences, directed by Jean Bazemore.

 Juniors and seniors at Northcoast Prep wanted to do Spring’s Awakening, a play by Frank Wedekind that has been controversial for a century but has also been made into films, television and a musical.

 With the most graphic scenes softened or eliminated, the version they performed last weekend in Gist Hall Theatre emphasized universal adolescent experience within a repressive late 19th century German context: awakening bodies and minds, compelling feelings, parental pressures and the onrushing of adulthood amidst keenly felt golden woodland days and brilliant spring nights.

 Yet especially for today’s audience, the play may organize itself around the topic of teen suicide. Director Jean Bazemore and designer Jerry Beck developed a poetic stagecraft that imbued this evening with an efficient beauty. The play ended with unexpectedly powerful emotion.

Actors of roughly the same age as the adolescent characters provided this play with a unique immediacy, while their characterizations of adult characters was revelatory in other ways.  That these actors were also skilled and committed made this a memorable production.

 The acting company was uniformly believable: Jesse Mackinney, Lily Drabkin, Nico Krell, Ellen Thompson, Chris McIltraith, Annajane Murphy, Danny Davis, Ethan Frank and Myel Gilkerson. But an extra word must be said about Nico Krell, whose performance and stage presence were more assured and compelling than that of any young actor I can remember.

Coming Up:

 The comic duo Third Base (Nick Trotter and Jerry Lee Wallace) present their latest sequel, Son of Myths of the Plastic Age II at the Arcata Playhouse on Friday and Saturday, January 24 and 25 at 8 p.m. Their combination of word play and physical comedy also includes original music in collaboration with the New York group Bonejesters.

 Redwood Curtain presents its seventh annual radio variety show fundraiser, The Seven Deadly Zounds! on Saturday January 25 at Blue Lake Casino’s Sapphire Palace. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and the show combining comedy sketches and music starts at 8. It features Pamela Lyall, James Floss, Randy Wayne, Lynne Wells, Bob Wells, Terry Desch and Christina Jioras. It’s also broadcast live on KHUM. Tickets and information for this popular event:

 As part of Mad River Steelhead Days in Blue Lake, Dell’Arte presents Fish Tales, a family-friendly variety show, on Saturday Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. in the Carlo Theatre. It features local string band Kingfoot and local storytellers Jeff DeMark, Thomas Dunklin and Kit Mann, and a song by Janessa Johnsrude and Ruxy Cantir. Tickets are pay-what-you-can or free with Steelhead Days registration, but reservations are highly recommended: (707) 668-5663 ext. 5.

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