Curtain Call Productions Presents a true Spring Awakening

Monday, March 16, 2015

  • Photos courtesy of CCP/ Tim Clark

    Photos courtesy of CCP/ Tim Clark

  • Photos courtesy of CCP/ Tim Clark

    Photos courtesy of CCP/ Tim Clark

  • Photos courtesy of CCP/ Tim Clark

    Photos courtesy of CCP/ Tim Clark

  • Photos courtesy of CCP/ Tim Clark

    Photos courtesy of CCP/ Tim Clark

  • Photos courtesy of CCP/ Tim Clark

    Photos courtesy of CCP/ Tim Clark

Written by Caroline Elworthy

Over four months of preparation.

A production entirely created by students; directed, produced and preformed.

An average of twenty hours a week devoted to rehearsal, production management, fundraising initiatives, dance and vocal rehearsals.

Over 60 hardworking students, who learned to juggle school, work and social commitments with CCP.  

All boiled down to one chaotic and highly successful week, as Curtain Call Production presented their production of Spring Awakening in the first week of March.

Curtian Call Productions is an entirely student-run, volunteer based organization that runs as a registered club under the Central Student Association at the University of Guelph.  CCP made their original debut in 1957, preforming self-written plays as part of the annual College Royal festivities that takes place each year in the second last weekend of March. CCP has grown to operate much like a professional theatre company with designated departments and lead roles, tackling ambitious Broadway musicals while still remaining an authentic student run effort.

The company is now funded primarily through the revenue from the previous year’s production, as well as generous well as university-affiliated student associations, corportate sponsorhips, membership fees as well as extensive fundraising events.

And so, as tradition has solidified, every spring Curtian Call Productions releases a new musical, entirely student run and produced.

This year’s production of Spring Awakening was selected and directed by CCP’s own talented actor-turned- director, Duncan Gibson-Lockhart.

I had directed the play Batman in highschool, and then directed a One-Act play for the Sno-Week Festival, Gibson-Lockhart says of his prior directing experience.

“It was a really big learning experience for everyone, including myself”, Gibson-Lockhart concludes.

“Without the help of a professor, you really get to see just how incredibly talented everyone is”, says Alicia Doane, CCP’s stage manager.

“Everyone steps forward to put their help in, and we really all come together as one big family to make this thing work”, Doane concludes.

Spring Awakening was originally written in 1891 by German playwright Frank Wedekind and was later adapted into a Broadway musical by Duncan Seik , with lyrics and music by Steven Sater. From it’s debut in the 1990’s the Broadway musical has grown to become a highly popular, well-loved tale and received a Grammy Award in 2006.

The plot follows the story of young Wendla (played by Lauren McGinty), who journeys hesitantly down the path of adolescence, discovering herself along with her equally naïve and sexually frustrated classmates.  The setting is 1891, in a small German town –  where there is no room for discussion, self-discovery or sexual exploration. A youthfully, naive Wendla eventually falls for headstrong Melchoir (played by Devin Dos Santos) and the two of them wander into adolescence with passionate curiosity. Acting opposite Dos Santos and McGinty was a exceptionally talented, musically inclined cast who ignited the musical with a passionate spark. The cast included Florence Labrie, Matthew  McQueen, Brandon Vollick, Caiti Malone, Maddie Rosenberg, Nick Tiessen, Shawn Vickar, Samantha Pascoal, Owen Jones, Analisa Darmanie and Jacob Fulton.

The play contains dark undercurrents as the oppressive setting 18th centuary Germany has no acceptance for failure, unconsummated sexual encounters, or gender questioning. Melchoir's hesitant friend Mortiz (played be Owen Jones), collapses under the expectations placed upon him by his family and eventually commits suicide. 

Although the play contains dark subject matter such as abortion, suicide, explicit language, mental illness and sexual content, the team behind Curtain Call Productions dealt with the content in a very tastefull, highly professional manner.

Scenes that could have gone awkwardly awry were instead gracefully handled with a level of professional maturity, which is sometimes hard to attain in University level theatre productions.

Instead, CCP fused together powerful themes of youth revolt, self-discovery, questions of morality and societal responsibility with the unifying power of music, dance and passion into a powerful coming of age production.

I picked this play because I think it covers a broad range of topics which are very relatable to the general population at the University of Guelph, Gibson-Lockhart says.

It’s definitely nerve-racking on opening night to simply let the play run, but its also one of the most rewarding aspects of theatre- to see the instant reaction that is created on the faces on the audience,  says Gibson-Lockhart.

Theatre is such a multi-disciplinary form of art, Gibson says of his initial calling to the world of performance. There is so much room to channel many different aspects of an individual’s talent, and I think that’s one of the reasons why I find it so rewarding, Gibson-Lockhart concludes.

Jordy Posluns, was one of the hardworking executive producers along with Jordan Barrera  for this year’s performance agrees with Gibson- Lockhart on the powerful results of live theatre.

 “In today’s society, theatre functions as an incredibly powerful educational resource and medium of self-expression” says Posluns.

“It transports us to new, uncharted territories; it allows us to experience the world from widely different perspectives… and provides a unification of our society and all societies around the globe” Posluns concludes.

“I hope the audience left the play knowing the importance of talking about sexuality, consent, and mental illness….[this musical ] it’sraw and rebellious and I hope that it [the musical] gave the audience a different perspective on what musical theatre can do”, says Lauren McGinty, a second year Studio Art student who played the lead role of Wendla this year.

“As someone who has experienced CCP as both an audience member and an actor on stage, I hope that the audience felt the energy that we injected into the play”, agrees Devin Dos Santos, who playing the lead role of Melchoir opposite McGinty in Spring Awakening.

“When on stage, the experience becomes a balance of enjoying yourself as you perform and entertaining the audience, and I think that if you become too selfish and perform just for your own sake, the quality may lack and similarly, if you perform just to entertain the audience it takes the fun out of the show for the actors” Dos Santos explains.

I believe that the perfect balance is acquired when the audience is entertained by the skill and mastery of the show, and also by the energy of a group of people on stage doing what they love. I believe that we achieved that balance, and I hope that translated to the audience, Dos Santos concludes.

Although the actors of any performance deserve any and all admiration and praise, there is also a constant flurry of activity behind the curtain that needs to be equally valued. This years stage managers of Alicia Doane, Elizabeth Richardson and Benjamin Krausert ran a smooth performance, creating seamless transitions between scenes, whileDayna Cardiff acted as the Prodcution Manager. 

The play integrated a stunning display of dance and vocal talent, which was implemented by talented choreographers Brittany Danishevsky and assistant Leah O’Neill, with the enthusiastic Thomas Sharpe as vocal director. The tastefully chosen costumes were designed by Stephanie Clark, with props by Rochelle Richardson and hair and makeup done by Holly Bentham. Ellen Song conducted an impressive pit band with confident talent, keeping the beat of the play throughout the entire two acts.

A three level set was designed by Norrie Sheng, with Daniel Gold Bersani acting as the always reliable  Technical Director, Lighting and Sound Design  guy. Sam Skelhorn kept things cool and collected with the technical aspects of the play, along with Heather Lees and Helen Toner. 

Of course, nothing can get done with adequate funding, and so Brianne Stevens and a hardworking team of marketing and advertising individuals is to thank for CCP’s continued existence.

CCP has done it again- pulled off an amazing performance fuelled by a raw sense of passion, determination and love of theatre. A huge congratulations to the entire cast, crew, executive and orchestra is extended! Bravo!

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