Wak­ing up to adapted tale of teenage dis­cov­ery

Evening Express (City Final) - The Guide - - ARTS AND STAGE - By Sonja Ras­mussen

AN ABERDEEN theatre com­pany which has been rest­ing for 10 years is get­ting ready to spring back to life with the aptly-named mu­si­cal Spring Awak­en­ings. A cast of 16 lo­cal per­form­ers has been as­sem­bled to per­form the Tony-award-win­ning Broad­way hit, with not one mem­ber of the orig­i­nal Harlequin cast among them. Di­rec­tor Stu­art Mearns is the com­pany’s only link with the past – he treaded the boards in the 1990s in many of Harlequin’s hit shows in­clud­ing As­sas­sins, Lit­tle Shop of Hor­rors, Hair and Com­pany. With his wife Rachel Young, the pair now run the Aberdeen Academy of Per­form­ing Arts. Stu­art said: “When I looked at the score of Spring Awak­en­ings, I knew I couldn’t stage it with the kids from the Academy as the ma­te­rial is pretty con­tro­ver­sial at times. “I needed to start again and stage it with a new com­pany, but what I didn’t want to do was go and start up an­other theatre com­pany be­cause there are so many of them around these days. “I did a lot of think­ing and then I was e-mail­ing Alan Dun­can, who started Harlequin and now lives in Aus­tralia, and said ‘I wish Harlequin was still around. This would be the per­fect show for us.’ Be­fore long we’d come up with the plan to res­ur­rect it, which we are now do­ing.” Spring Awak­en­ings is a rock mu­si­cal adap­ta­tion of the con­tro­ver­sial 1891 text by Ger­man play­wright Frank

Wedekind. Set in the strict and un­for­giv­ing late 19thcen­tury Ger­man so­ci­ety, the mu­si­cal con­fronts is­sues of sex­ual awak­en­ing in teenage years and the frus­tra­tions of a group of youths who are try­ing to find their way in life, of­ten in op­po­si­tion to par­ents and teach­ers. Speak­ing about the strong themes tack­led in the pro­duc­tion, Stu­art ex­plained: “While the orig­i­nal text is over 100 years old, I think the mes­sages Spring Awak­en­ing tells are still so im­por­tant to­day. It’s a fear­less piece that has chal­lenged all of us in re­hearsals just like I’m sure it will chal­lenge au­di­ences. It’s go­ing to be a real ex­pe­ri­ence!” Harlequin’s pro­duc­tion is the North-east of Scot­land’s premier per­for­mance, and stag­ing it in Aberdeen was a long-held dream for Stu­art, who said: “It’s a show I’ve al­ways wanted to do. I’d heard of it, started do­ing a bit of re­search and when the rights came up, I jumped at it.” Harlequin Pro­duc­tions will per­form Spring Awak­en­ing – A NewMu­si­cal – from March 16 to 19 at The Lemon Tree.

MON­STER: A pre­vi­ous Harlequin Pro­duc­tions stage show, Lit­tle Shop Of Hor­rors in 2001.

DI­REC­TOR: Stu­art Mearns.

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