Sometimes the action becomes a bit too much — a series of charges off and on stage in Act 2 almost become funny — and the actors' miking caused some problems on opening night. But there's a scrappiness about this production that suits the story.
Director Paul Castaneda has staged the show in the round and peopled the cast with dynamic personalities.
Adam McCabe has the rock-star moves and attitude to make Moritz's big numbers "And Then There Were None" and "Don't Do Sadness," pulse with energy. But his affected manner for poor fragile Moritz veers too far into comedy. (Christopher Walken kept popping into my mind.)
Several key players get the danger factor inherent to the show: These kids are playing with fire in their sexual experimentation. Melina Countryman's naïve Wendla is full of trepidation. Anthony Pyatt Jr. gives Melchior a darkness behind his expressive eyes; there's almost an element of cruelty when he takes Wendla's virginity. Pyatt has a tendency to swallow his lines while he's speaking, unlike Josh Roth who deliciously milks his lines: "I am a pussy cat," he famously tells a classmate. Roth finds just the right balance of sinister and comical as his pragmatic character of Hanschen seduces Ernst (Paul Hambidge, sweetly funny).
Sarah Villegas, as Ilse, also makes an impression. Her unsteady gait mirrors Ilse's emotional tightrope, savoring her freedom yet scared of being alone.
Marion C. Marsh Skinner and John Edward Palmer are frightful (and hateful) as the adult teachers, though Skinner's best moments are as Wendla's mother. Nervously about to explain the birds and the bees, she plasters on a brightly phony smile, biting her thumb and squirming in her chair.
The adults are not miked, causing odd aural effects when they speak to the cast's youngsters — whose voices are heard through speakers around the stage. And when the backing chorus sings, their oohs and ahs bubble up to overpower the leads.
It's in the big group numbers, too, that the show's edge dulls. It's well-known how excited theater companies were to obtain rights to "Spring Awakening" — three Orlando companies snagged them immediately. And that excitement sometimes leaks through into the acting, with inappropriate smiles here and there.
But that's forgivable. After all, overexuberance is part and parcel of being young.
email@example.com or 407-420-5038.
What: Greater Orlando Actors Theatre production of 'Spring Awakening'
Length: 2:10 with intermission
Where: Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 E. Rollins St., Orlando
When: 8:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 7:30 p.m. Sundays; through Sept. 4
Cost: $18, $15 for students and seniors