Like a double rainbow, it’s a rare thing to see two versions of the same show on local stages within a short time. But that’s exactly what’s about to happen, as Phantom Moon Collective presents their version of Spring Awakening a mere month after a production of the same musical by the Tomo Suro Players.
This controversial play with music by Duncan Sheik is as relevant today as ever, as we deal with listening to those who are voiceless and undesired in the face of growing pains, first love, and power of the individual. There are two sets of leads that alternate between the nights, and a diverse cast, making for a unique presentation at the historic Pacific Theatre.
Vancouver Musicals recently spoke with Chris Lam, director of the upcoming Phantom Moon production.
VM: What drew you to choose this play?
I’ve always been a fan of the music of the show since 2006 and when the rights became available, I remember thinking which theatre company was going to snag the first production in Vancouver. The show is fascinating. Rock musicals in general are a strange breed in musical theatre because the focus is on the sound. Rock is emulated and synthesized in a musical presentation that has staging and dancing, but we kind of forget that rock needs to put the spotlight on the singer or the instrumental soloist in telling the story. Duncan Sheik was very explicit about this and the authors have made it very clear that song and scenes have to be separate.
VM: It’s unusual for the same show to be produced by two different companies within a short time. I recall the “Evil Dead” musical as the last time there was a similar situation here in Vancouver. Did this affect your production in any way? How did you approach the play to make it uniquely your own?
I’m thankful that I had a chat with the director of the other production. We approached the matter diplomatically, and talked through what our concepts were. Luckily, they were different. Sometimes companies want to do the same stories because it just feels like the right time to do it. Something about the content resonates and is resurged in the ether again, and it has to be told. I believe that were a production is effective or not, they still have to honour the work of the authors who put the story in front of them.
The production you will see being presented by Phantom Moon Collective (a nod to Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s first collaborative effort) is my love letter to the original Michael Mayer production. I loved the images and choreography and staging to tell a story that still holds emotional and universal truth. You will get the full orchestra enclosed around the players, and having it done in the Pacific Theatre venue was irresistible because of the the actual church above. The site informed the decision to do the production, really. I hope people can be immersed in the piece like a rock concert but also be drawn to the story and the characters and their relationships.
Phantom Moon’s production of Spring Awakening runs March 8, 10 and 11 at Pacific Theatre. For full details, check the listing for Spring Awakening on Vancouver Musicals.