‘Spring Awakening’ Hits Stage at Drew

Students perform Tony award–winning rock musical

February 2020 – In this year’s spring show, Drew University theatre students are looking to fill some mighty big shoes.

The company is performing Spring Awakening, a rock musical about the complicated facets of teenage sexuality, with music by Dunan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater, from February 19-22.

The show’s Broadway production won numerous Tony awards and, at Drew, is directed by adjunct professor Abigail Zealey Bess, an award-winning filmmaker and theatre director.

“It was pretty intimidating being in such a well-known show because of all the expectations of what it should be,” said Liam Ryan C’20, who plays Melchior Gabor, one of the two leads.

“It takes a village to put on a show, and every single person involved in the production is a vital part of that final artistic vision."

“The show has something important to say,” added Julia Kenner C’21, who portrays Wendla Bergman opposite Ryan.

“It deals with really heavy, taboo subjects like sexuality, suicide and unhealthy relationships. Putting on this production is a huge step in encouraging conversation and education about those issues. One of the most significant themes in this show, I believe, is knowledge.”


Kenner (center) appears in her first lead role at Drew.

Aside from the musical’s message, Bess noted that one of the biggest lessons for the students involved is the importance of collaboration.

“It takes a village to put on a show, and every single person involved in the production is a vital part of that final artistic vision,” she said.

“You need passion, patience, vision and, most importantly, to never lose your sense of humor.”

Bess also touched on the hands-on opportunities for students with varying skillsets and interests to be cultivated.

“Actors, singers, musicians, design, choreography, set, lighting, sound, costume, dramaturgy and props,” she listed. “There has been an amazing opportunity to every type of skill to be involved.”


Spring Awakening runs Feb. 19-22.

Bess was proud to report that Kenner and Ryan perform their roles with “fearlessness, truth and beauty” and that stage manager Ryman Curtis C’20 “has managed the impossible by keeping the journey of the Spring Awakening ship on course.”

“I’m most excited that I get to tell this story with a group of extraordinary people,” said Kenner.

“I can’t wait to add an audience to the insanity when this show turns into a full-out rock concert,” added Ryan.

If you’re wondering whether or not to be a part of said audience, it’s worth noting that Drew’s Theatre & Dance Department has garnered national recognition for its quality theater productions, ranking 10th in the nation.

Get your tickets here.

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