LOS ANGELES: When Linda Buchwald wrote about Deaf West Theatre‘s acclaimed deaf-and-hearing reimagining of the coming-of-age musical Spring Awakening for our November issue, its creators talked hopefully about it having a life beyond its initial run. Now the first leg of its future journey has begun with the announcement that it’s slated to appear at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, where it will run in the 500-seat Bram Goldsmith Theatre, May 21-June 7; it played last year in a 99-Seat space in Hollywood, the Inner City Arts’s Rosenthal Theatre.
The Wallis’s interim artistic director, Patricia Wolff, told the Los Angeles Times she found the show “absolutely riveting…The way Deaf West has interpreted this material musically and emotionally is nothing short of thrilling.” And Times critic F. Kathleen Foley raved, “If rippling goosebumps are any indication of emotional involvement, this show delivers.”
Optimistic observers might recall the path taken more than a decade ago by Deaf West’s deaf-and-hearing Big River from its 99-seat North Hollywood space to the midsized Mark Taper Forum—and then on to an historic Broadway run in 2003. Deaf West’s take on Spring Awakening, as Buchwald reported, takes the deaf-and-hearing-musical idea one step further than previous efforts, including Big River and Pippin, incorporating deafness as a subject into the story: She wrote, “By making the story about deaf and hearing adolescents, this Spring Awakening intensifies the conflicts at the heart of the show.”