UPDATE, 10:50 AM: News of the move that will bring a revival of Spring Awakening to Broadway in the fall renewed talk about Duncan Sheik’s new musical-in-waiting, American Psycho, based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel about New York in the throes of ’80s greed. Telsey & Co. has been casting that show, which had its premiere last year in the U.K., for Broadway, with plans to begin rehearsals in January, 2016 and previews mid-February in anticipation of a mid-March opening. Rupert Goold is staging, with dances by Lynne Page. Producers David Johnson, Jesse Singer, Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel haven’t announced a theater yet and didn’t immediately respond to a request for information. But a limited run of Spring Awakening could hold a choice theater for the new show.
EXCLUSIVE: An acclaimed revival of Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s musical Spring Awakening is transferring to Broadway in the fall, I’m told, as soon as a theater can be locked up. The lead producer is Ken Davenport (Godspell), who declined to comment, but I hear it’s in the bag and casting notices will go up later today.
The revival is a co-production of Los Angeles-based Deaf West Theatre and Forest Of Arden, whose founder, Michael Arden, directs; with choreography by Spencer Liff. It was first presented in L.A. at Inner-City Arts’ 99-seat Rosenthal Theater and recently concluded a run at the 500-seat Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.
L.A. Times drama critic Charles McNulty wrote that “Arden’s stage plan stunningly employs all sorts of chiaroscuro effects to create a theatrical world — half-modern, half-antique — in which this musical poem, based on Frank Wedekind’s daring 1891 play about the societal oppression and irrepressible sexuality of teenagers, can be lyrically reborn.”
Wedekind’s play concerns a group of hormonally buzzed teens dealing with sex, abuse, grades, rejection and general parental block-headedness. Without obviously updating the story, Sheik and Sater added a dazzling alt-rock score and a charismatic cast that led to eight Tony Awards, including best musical, in 2007.
Deaf West is best known for its knockout 2003 revival of Roger Miller’s Huck Finn musical Big River. Like that show, Spring Awakening will mix hearing and deaf performers, with some roles played by two actors, one singing and the other signing in American Sign Language.
That includes the central role of Wendla, a girl whose mother has kept her ignorant re the birds and the bees, with predictable results. In the current production, she was signed by Sandra Mae Frank and voiced by Katie Boeck, described by McNulty as “well matched, with Frank beautifully embodying Wendla’s anguished vulnerability and Boeck sweetly musicalizing her tender spirit.” On the other hand, her pursuer Melchior was played solely by Austin McKenzie, who gave, McNulty wrote, “a charismatic indie-rock star turn.”
No information yet as to which cast members might make the move East.