Here’s Part 5 of our Behind the Scenes look at Olney Theatre Center’s Spring Awakening. We continue our interviews with the cast with Parker Drown.
Why did you want to be part of this production of Spring Awakening at Olney Theatre Center?
I wanted to be a part of Spring Awakening because I love the music, I really value the story, and I believe the message is important.
Introduce us to the character you play and tell us why you wanted to play this role. How did you prepare for your role? What personal experiences did you bring to your performance?
I play the role of Moritz. He is a kid with so much potential and so much drive, and yet he has no idea how valuable that is in life. He truly lives from moment to moment and burdens himself with adolescent pressures and the need to conform to an unrealistic and unattainable way of life that has been thrust upon him, which in turn becomes his undoing. I was so drawn to this character because of his heart. I feel for him and I identify with him. I am thankful that life has never taken me into the dark depths that he goes through in this play, but I identify with his struggles. He goes through so much in this show, from academic failure, to physical abuse, to perceived betrayal, to loneliness, and ultimately spirals into hopelessness…and he is going through all of this while trying to figure out puberty and why he is physically and emotionally changing. The scary thing about playing Moritz is that nothing really prepares you for it.
How do you relate to Moritz? What do you admire most about him?
I think most people can relate to Moritz, because and some point we all doubt ourselves, we feel betrayed, and we abuse ourselves over things that we have no control over. It’s a matter of figuring out how to pull yourself through, whether you find it on your own or through a support system. I most admire his heart and passion. He doesn’t impose on anyone and he feels his emotions big.
How has Steve Cosson helped you to shape your performance?
Steve has a very light-hearted way about himself and in the way he communicates to others. With a piece like Spring Awakening that is so dark and tragic, that light-heartedness is so important in order to stay grounded and attached to a sense of reality. If things spiral too quickly and too dramatically then we rob the audience of experiencing the characters’ journeys. Steve helped me to explore all of the ins and outs of Moritz’s teenage mind and he kept urging me to take my time, play the moments and to BREATHE!
Talk about your ‘big numbers.’ What is happening in the story to Moritz when the song is being sung?
“Bitch of Living”
This number is when we get introduced to the mindset of Moritz and the other boys. They are consumed by adolescent and hormonal angst and in the middle of Latin class is when they all explode and release all of that frustration, only to be snapped out of their fantasies and thrust right back into the world of the class room.
“And Then There Were None”
In a nutshell, this song is where Moritz begins to unravel and lose control. He has become so overwhelmed by his pain that he struggles to find a way out. He has reached out to Melchior’s mother for help and when she can’t/won’t do what he asks of her he becomes filled with anger and betrayal. He lets the rage cloud his mind and essentially says, “Screw everyone else. I’ll take care of this myself.” He doesn’t open himself up to the fact that she is there for him and offering to help, just in a way he doesn’t quite understand.
“Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind”
In this song/songs Moritz has come undone. He has been filled with so much agony and sadness that he wishes he could take it all away. He struggles to maintain control of his emotions and even when Ilse finds him in the woods and presents herself as a true friend and a care free spirit, who in a way needs him as much as he needs her, he can’t bring himself to just say ‘Yes’ and let her help him.
What scene(s) that you are not in do you enjoy watching? And what is your favorite song that someone else sings and why?
Hands down, “Totally Fucked”! I don’t just enjoy watching it I am so jealous that I am the only person in the show who doesn’t get to be in it. I am not jealous, however, when everyone walks offstage panting and cursing after the number, but while they are performing it, I think it is one of the most electrifying numbers I’ve seen in a very long time! And the cast is amazing throughout so to see everyone come together after building up so much emotion and then explode through the roof is really awesome.
What it about the show’s design that thrills you when you perform the show?
Everything! Costumes are awesome, the set is beautiful, and the lights are out of control!! Oh and our band is pretty insane too. I think that we as a cast felt like we were a part of something special when it was just us in the rehearsal studio, but when the design elements all came together the show just jumped up about 100 notches. It’s not every time you do a show that the design makes you feel, but when I’m onstage alone and hear the band rocking out, I can feel the lights pulsing behind me while I run all over the set and pull at my costumes and I feel that the designers have given me a moment to just take it all in. It’s cool!!!!
Have you worked with any of your fellow actors before and what do you admire the most about their performances in this production?
It was about half-and-half for me in regards to having worked with and never before. This cast is just so talented and they all give so much that it pushes me as an actor to be better. Everyone’s commitment to doing this show and delivering an awesome show 8 times a week is so special and really remarkable.
What does Spring Awakening have to say to 2013 audiences?
I think that this play still says the same thing today as it did when Frank Wedekind wrote the original play in 1891. If something makes us uncomfortable we need to discuss it. If something scares us we need to face it. If something is unfamiliar we need to learn about it. Even though the original play was banned for years and considered blasphemous it forced people to talk and open their minds. Today we are undoubtedly more prepared and open to discuss topics of adolescence, sex, and abuse, but we still have room to grow. And that is going to come from continuing open discussions and taking the taboo out of talking about it. That’s why I believe this show is an important one.
What advice would you give to a high school student who is about to play Moritz in their high school production of Spring Awakening?
Start the journey fresh every night and don’t hold onto what happened the night before. Just take your time, trust your heart, play the truth and breathe!!
If you had a chance to write a happy ending for the show, what would happen to your character?
Moritz would go off with Ilse in the woods, and they would run away to America and start a brand new life as adults.
What are you doing next on the stage after this show?
Nothing yet…but I do plan to travel a little and visit family since I haven’t had a break in a while. And after a show like this I think some vacation time should be mandatory.
Spring Awakening plays through March 10, 2013 at Olney Theatre Center’s Main Stage — 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, in Olney, MD. For tickets call (301) 924-3400, or purchase them online.
Running Time: Approximately two hours with one intermission.
Part 1: ‘Whisperings’: Behind the Scenes at Olney Theatre Center’s ‘Spring Awakening’: Director Steve Cosson.
Part 2: ‘Whisperings’: Behind the Scenes at Olney Theatre Center’s ‘Spring Awakening’: Matthew Kacergis.
Part 3: ‘Whisperings’: Behind the Scenes at Olney Theatre Center’s ‘Spring Awakening’: MaryLee Adams.
Part 4: ‘Whisperings’: Behind the Scenes at Olney Theatre Center’s ‘Spring Awakening’: Gracie Jones.
Amanda Gunther’s review of Spring Awakening on DCMetroTheaterArts.