By Rachel Chen
First scene: Wendla on the floor, kneeling with eyes wide open, looking up at Mama (Jordan Hankins).
It’s a dramatic scene; the two are in a heated argument, and Wendla (Sara Beth Seagall), confides in her mother that she has been thinking about death. Their conversation ends and a cast member on the other side of the room begins to cue perhaps the most well known song in the play – “Mama Who Bore Me.”
Gradually, over a span of thirty seconds, four other cast members join in for the song’s reprise. Some hum along quietly, some sing along, others begin to harmonize with the melody. Smiles begin to form as it steadily transitions to the upbeat part of the song, and soon enough the entire room is bursting with energy and excitement.
While most of Furman students are studying away or in the dining hall on a Monday night around 7:00 p.m., the cast members and director of Spring Awakening are busy rehearsing in the upstairs theory room of Daniel Music Building, located next to McAlister Auditorium.
The energy is overwhelming, with several conversations going on throughout the room. The classroom chairs are pushed back to the end of the room, where director Emily Zinger sits in the front row and observes each scene as the actors come before her and run lines scene by scene. The rest of the cast is spread throughout the room, some running lines with other members in their scenes or chatting with their friends about recent events.
Ten minutes or so pass by and the director calls for everybody’s attention and begins to give instructions to the next actors in line waiting for their cue to run their lines. Four chairs are placed in the center, where Melchior (Joey Killian), Hanschen (Holt McCarley), Georg (Preston Grover) and Otto (Ben Keiper) are sitting in a setting of a classroom. The expressions on their faces show signs of boredom and they sigh as they listen to the headmaster, played by Boone Pilkington (who plays all of the adult males in the play), drones on with his lectures.
All at once, they begin chanting their Latin lesson in unison as they move into the next song, “All That’s Known.” This scene is particularly intriguing, as the chanting continues on in harmony with the music in the background.
Their chanting becomes softer and softer until the song finally comes to a stop and three or so other songs follow. One of them was called the “The Bitch of Living,” which was used in the Spring Awakening promotion video, followed by “My Junk” and “Touch Me.” The scene transitions into the romantic portion of the plot where Melchior and Wendla, the play’s protagonists, run into each other in the woods. Killian and Seagall sit in the center of the stage, once again kneeling and facing each other.
In this scene, Wendla has a worried look on her face, on the verge of tears. Startled by her display of emotions, Melchior reaches out to comfort her and asks her what is going on. Wendla had just been confided in about a friend with troubling family issues and in a desperate moment she pours it out to Melchior and seeks his advice.
To find out what else happens in this controversial play, which won the Tony for Best New Musical in 2007 (and seven others besides), you can see the show, put on by the Pauper Players, on Nov. 15, 16, and 17 at 8:00 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium.