The revival of the 2007 Tony Award winning musical “Spring Awakening” is the first of it’s kind in several ways, and you will be able to watch it live from the White House here on Nov., 18th at 4p.m. EST.
This Wednesday, the White House is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 40th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act with the event “Americans with Disabilities and the Arts: A Celebration of Diversity and Inclusion.”
“Spring Awakening’s” core story, told through rock music, is about miscommunication between teenagers and adults. Deaf West Theater added the component of deaf characters into the story so well that they went from performing in a 99 seat theater in L.A. to performing on Broadway in just one year.
The cast has some familiar faces: Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin from “Switched at Birth,” Krysta Rodriguez from “Smash,” and Emmy Award winning Camryn Manheim. But this production brought on new opportunities for people that would usually be overlooked, like actors with disabilities. Such as profoundly deaf actors and people in a wheelchair.
Director Michael Arden incorporated deaf history from the time period where the original book and production was set, 1891. When deaf students were not allowed to learn sign language and was forced to speak.
Spencer Liff’s choreography not only tells the story through American Sign Language (ASL), but physical cues, like a nod of the head or grabbing a letter, for the deaf actors to know when to begin signing.
Some characters are played by two people, one deaf and one hearing, including the main female character Wendla. Who — spoiler alert — has sex, gets pregnant and dies. This allows the audience members to hear the voice inside of the character while seeing them sign.