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My chat with “Spring Awakening” director Michael Arden whose LA run has been extended to June 14

Last week, I attended opening night of Spring Awakening at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.

It was wonderful and I’m happy to share that Deaf West Theatre’s innovative production has been extended for six additional performances through June 14.

The musical about lost innocence and the struggles of youth is performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken English by a cast of 27.

I’m so happy for producer Cody Lassen who is a tremendous person and for director Michael Arden who I recently chatted with about the production.

‘I want to do this for as many people as we possibly can,’ he says. “It’s a story that’s incredibly illuminating for parents and children and anyone struggling with growing up. It’s my hope we can do this show wherever we can.’

‘It’s an eclectic musical with incredible music and a timeless story – a musical performed simultaneously with sign language. It’s definitely ambitious and it’s exciting to push the limits. You have to tell the story to both audiences and the lighting is key because you have to always see people’s hands. It’s not an easy thing. It’s truly a singular experience. We are able to break down all walls.’

Among those in the cast is Arden’s fiance Andy Mientus but known for NBC’s Smash who toured with the first national company of Spring Awakening and made his Broadway debut in the 2014 revival of Les Misérables.

So what’s it like to direct the man he is set to marry in August 2016?

‘It’s wonderful,’ Arden says. ‘He’s a fantastic actor and a consummate pro. He’s wonderful in the part. When I’m watching him, I forget he’s my fiance.’

Arden took on Spring Awakening after wrapping up his regular role on the sitcom Anger Management which had a 100-episode run on FX.

He left Julliard to join the Broadway revival company of the musical Big River in the role of Tom Sawyer. Among his many other stage credits are appearing on the London stage starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love, at the Menier Chocolate Factory, in Pippin in Los Angeles, and in Twyla Tharp’s musical The Times They Are A-Changin’ on Broadway.

Comparing directing to acting Arden says: ‘In many ways, (directing) is easier but in more ways, it’s harder. As an actor, you are asked to know nothing and find out about a character with a virgin heart. As a director, you have to know where you’re going.’

Tickets are $29 – $109 and are available at www.thewallis.org or by calling 310-746-4000 or in person at The Wallis Ticket Services located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. There is an Open-Captioned Performances on Saturday, June 6 at 3 pm.

FILE UNDER: Stage

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One Remark

  1. This is an amazing and very moving production of Spring Awakening! Don’t miss it!! I was fortunate to be at a performance where the entire cast participated in “talk back” after the show. Congrats to everyone involved in this production.

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