The UK production of Spring Awakening arrived at the Lyric Hammersmith in early 2009 with much fanfare. It received rave five star reviews and quickly embraced a West End transfer to the Novello Theatre just weeks later.
But the uncertainty of the industry reared its ugly head when producers were forced to post early closing notices due to poor ticket sales. Yet the rock musical, an adaptation of the controversial 1891 German play of the same title by Frank Wedekind, still went on to win four Olivier awards.
The industry mourned the loss of “a landmark show”. Charles Spencer’s five star review in The Telegraph had hoped the show’s move into the West End would “once again persuade young writers, and more importantly producers, that there is still a place for daring and originality in musical theatre.”
There is no doubting the artistic success of the first production.
An artistic triumph clearly, but alas not a financial one. Spencer’s words perhaps sent a shiver down the spines of writers and producers everywhere. Would a producer ever again risk bringing Spring back to the UK stage?
In spring 2011, two years after the opening at the Lyric, Sell a Door Theatre Company are set to rock theatre aisles across the country with the first UK tour.
Producer Phillip Rowntree told Fourthwall Magazine: “There is no doubting the artistic success of the first production.
“At Sell a Door we have always produced high quality productions and with the creative team we have working on the show, we are sure it will be just as much a success.
“We have also received some exceptional support from the theatres we are visiting to help make this show a financial success, everyone is excited as much as we are about this revival,” he said.
Sell A Door Theatre Company was formed in 2007 by graduates from the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. Founder David Hutchinson and co-producer of Spring’s UK tour said that he was excited to be taking the show around the country, especially to his hometown of Stirling.
Speaking to Fourthwall Magazine, he said he was thrilled to be bringing the show to the MacRoberts Art Centre. “Liam Sinclair has just taken the reigns at the arts centre, and he has a great vision and ambition for the theatre; I am very glad we, as a company, can be a part of. I’ve known Liam from my days as a young actor in training at Glasgow’s RSAMD.
“It will be great that all my friends and family don’t need to catch a flight down to London to see some of my work for once – instead it’s just around the corner.”
Certainly a score that was so fresh and original when it first premiered is one
Building relationships with theatres is one thing, but how does Spring Awakening interest audiences today? “I think the show’s appeal is many fold,” affirms Rowntree. “Certainly a score that was so fresh and original when it first premiered is one, as well as characters that audiences are able to truly empathise with is another.
“Perhaps what appeals the most is a recognition of that inexperience we all have when we take the first steps on the road to love and life; an inexperience that is completely unavoidable almost as much as the suffering you endure when you learn from your inevitable mistakes.”
Spring Awakening kicks off at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter (17th – 21st May), Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh (24th & 25th May), MacRoberts Theatre, Stirling (26th – 28th May), Greenwich Theatre, London (7th – 12th June), Lowry Theatre, Manchester (14th & 15th June), Norwich Playhouse (17th & 18th June).
“We are still negotiating dates with certain venues, and are still open to extending the tour should venues be interested in receiving it,” adds Rowntree.
The production will be directed by Pip Minnithorpe, with choreography by Cressida Carre.
Sell a Door are currently touring Liz Lochead’s Dracula to mark the 25th anniversary of the production.