Broadway first look: Deaf West Theatre’s revival of 8-time Tony winner ‘Spring Awakening’

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

The iconic music of Spring Awakening is coming back to Broadway.

The eight-time Tony Award winner tells the story of teens discovering their sexuality.

Watch: Cast of Spring Awakening performs songs from show

But this time around, it’s a little different.

The revival, produced by Deaf West Theatre, features deaf actors and will incorporate sign language throughout.

It’s the first of its kind.

And these performers believe it’s a community that’s underrepresented in the arts.

"We still have these same pressures, these attitudes about sign language so Broadway's the perfect way to convey our message, our story," Sandra Mae Frank said through an interpreter. "Also, to show the world that it's language and we all share language."

"The integration of the two provides a show, which is so beautiful that has to be seen to be believed," Marlee Matlin, an Oscar-winning actress, described.

Web extra: Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant talk 'Switched at Birth'

"Any deaf person can come to the theater, any hearing person can come to the theater, and they will get the exact same experience," Camryn Manheim, who play's Frank's mother in the show, added.

Spring Awakening opens September 27th at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre; previews begin September 8th.


Spring Awakening, the Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 2007, will play a strictly limited Broadway engagement at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 West 47th Street) with previews beginning on Tuesday, September 8 and opening night set for Sunday, September 27. The show will run 18 weeks only, through Saturday, January 9, with no extension possible. It will be performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken and sung in English by a cast of 28. Deaf West Theatre was last represented on Broadway with the triumphant production of Big River in 2003.

Deaf West Theatre’s innovative production of Spring Awakening recently completed an extended, critically-acclaimed engagement at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles where the production was expanded from its original, sold-out run at the Rosenthal Theatre in downtown L.A. The Los Angeles Times called Spring Awakening “an emotional triumph,” and said that it “awakens us to the dormant possibilities of this musical, with all the goose-bumps and teardrops to prove it. This is a show for anyone who wants to see a contemporary American musical superbly done.”

The Hollywood Reporter said Spring Awakening has “exceptional performances, inspired staging and brilliant use of sign language.” raved that Deaf West’s production is “unlike any production of Spring Awakening I’ve ever seen.”

Spring Awakening, with book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, is directed by Michael Arden and choreographed by Spencer Liff. The creative team includes Dane Laffrey (scenic and costume design), Ben Stanton (lighting design), Gareth Owen (sound design), Lucy Mackinnon (projection design), and Carol F. Doran (hair and wig design). New York casting by Telsey + Company/Craig Burns, CSA. Original casting by Beth Lipari and Bruce Newberg.

Based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 expressionist play of the same name and featuring an electrifying pop/rock score, Spring Awakening follows the lives of a group of adolescents as they navigate their journey from adolescence to adulthood in a fusion of morality, sexuality and rock & roll. An extraordinary creative team including Michael Arden and Spencer Liff has reinvented the groundbreaking musical about lost innocence and the struggles of youth in true Deaf West style.

Following its transfer from Atlantic Theatre Company to Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre, the original production of Spring Awakening was the recipient of eight 2007 Tony Awards including Best Musical; four Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical; three Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Broadway Musical; two Lucille Lortel Awards including Outstanding Musical; the Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical; and the 2007 Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical. Amidst wild critical reception for Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s “ravishing rock score,” including the Tony Award for Best Score and Drama Desk Awards for Best Music and Best Lyrics, Spring Awakening launched the careers of its young actors now known for their film, television and theater work, and stunned Broadway with “something unusual and aspiring, something vital and new” (Charles Isherwood, The New York Times).
Spring Awakening is produced by Ken Davenport, Cody Lassen, Hunter Arnold and Deaf West Theatre (Artistic Director David J. Kurs), with Carl Daikeler, Chockstone Pictures, Caiola Productions, Richard Hopper, Brian Cromwell Smith, and Associate Producer Kayla Greenspan.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.