GET “ON STAGE” with SPRING AWAKENING at LA MIRADA THEATRE

[ 0 ] March 7, 2013 |

by randy hope -

Experience Spring Awakening like never before with the new “On Stage” series at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. The new, intimate theatre experience is created by placing 199 audience seats on the actual stage of the theatre, which is set to be filled with an incredible award-winning musical. The musical sensation kicking off the event is composed by Duncan Sheik, the premiere production of this extraordinary new series allows theatergoers to be as close as possible to the performance set to run Thursday, March 21 through Saturday, March 30.

“The theater usually sits 1,250 people and we only have the one space, so it doesn’t exactly allow the entire audience an up close and personal experience,” says Brian Kite, Artistic Director at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

“I’ve been longing for a way to bring my audience even closer to the stories that we’re trying to tell,” he notes, explaining theater organizers tried something similar before with a cabaret series.

“We turned the lobby into a cabaret space by adding a couple hundred tables with chairs around them and placed couches in the lobby. It was wildly successful. The audience loved being that close to cabaret performers. No one was more than six rows back,” he explains.

That reaction was the catalyst for Kite to figure out a way to do the same with plays and musicals. “I wanted to take everything else we do well and create that experience with something new—something that feels fresh and exciting,” he remarks.

He came up with the series “On Stage” and decided to launch with Spring Awakening, with the premise that the series is not about small plays or small shows with a few actors. Instead it’s about the full theater experience but on an intimate scale.

While I always try to do so, here we must focus on the honesty in my work. This is especially important in this case because the audience is going to be so close that they won’t miss a moment.

“It’s going to kind of blow the minds for many audiences that haven’t had the intimate theater experience like this before. They’re not going to be safe 18 rows back, but instead theater patrons are going to be right up there with the actors and it’s going to be great,” he quips.

While La Mirada Theatre has always taken a risk with a show or two each season, it’s generally been more conservative in the past, Kite notes. “We’ve been making an effort to move the theater in a more current direction and this is the next step,” explains the director who says he loves doing work like Spring Awakening, as his background is with edgier musicals. However, he says he’s not ready to take the production to the main stage at La Mirada Theater just yet, but he may be in the future. “I think it’s going to introduce a lot of our subscribers, audience members and people who come, to what the possibilities are. They’ll hopefully join us later in this series or perhaps they’ll join us in our other series too.”

As for “On Stage,” this is the first production and series premiere—a sort of test case for this season. ”If it does well, then the ‘On Stage’ series will expand to include more musicals,” Kites says, explaining no other productions are scheduled at this time.

“If we’re going to kiss, then we’re going to kiss. If we’re going to masturbate, then we’re going to masturbate. And if we’re going to have sex, then get ready to see some sexuality right before your eyes.”

Kite admits he faces a unique set of challenges with the audience quite literally on stage with the actors. “While I always try to do so, here we must focus on the honesty in my work. This is especially important in this case because the audience is going to be so close that they won’t miss a moment. Performers are going to be unable to get away with playing broadly, every moment is going to have to be true and honest, which is always a challenge,” the director says. “There will be no secrets and we’re going to have to make sure everything works.”

He’s also up against the constraints of a smaller performance space—a challenge he welcomes by taking on the large production. Still, he assures no corners are being cut with this production of Spring Awakening—a show that calls for a cast of 13, complete set and orchestra—right there on stage with nearly 200 audience members. Still, the simple practicality of it all is mind-boggling, Kite explains. “We must figure out where it’s all going to exist and how it’s all getting on and off the stage filled with an audience on three sides,” he says.

Brian Kite

Theatergoers will truly experience the rock musical like never before. “It’s not about making the audience uncomfortable, but instead about making them a part of what’s going on,” he remarks about the show that touches on some controversial topics, including rape, abortion, masturbation, suicide and child abuse.

Approaching such topics realistically is something many people struggle with—including Kite. However, he says the intimacy of the space allows a more straight forward honest way of portraying the subject matter. “It’s just saying here it is, this is what’s happening and this is what’s on my mind. We’re going to commit to the honesty of those moments,” he insists.

“If we’re going to kiss, then we’re going to kiss. If we’re going to masturbate, then we’re going to masturbate. And if we’re going to have sex, then get ready to see some sexuality right before your eyes.”

Although Spring Awakening the musical is based on a play of the same name written in the late 1800s, Kite says it’s still an important theater experience not to be missed today. “The scenes haven’t strayed much from the original play written more than 120 years ago.

It has a very contemporary feel to it, as it deals with the issues of today,” he says. And, according to Kite, it’s a show that matters whatever age you are, since it speaks to how people are with each other in the world.

“People should come for many reasons, most important to me is Spring Awakening is a theatrical piece that matters, along with theater that’s entertaining and rocks out,” he concludes. “It’s going to definitely be a new way of thinking about La Mirada Theater.”

The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts is located at 14900 La Mirada Boulevard in La Mirada.

Tickets range from $20 to $60 and are purchasable by calling the La Mirada Theatre Box Office at714.994.6310 or by going to lamiradatheatre.com.

 ABOUT SPRING AWAKENING

Winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Spring Awakening is Duncan Skeik’s rock musical adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s 1891 expressionist play about the trials, tribulations and the exhilaration of the teen years. It’s 1891 in Germany, where the beautiful young Wendla explores her body and asks her mother where babies come from. Elsewhere, the brilliant and fearless young Melchior defends his buddy Moritz—a boy so traumatized by puberty he can’t concentrate on anything. One afternoon in the woods, Wendla and Melchior discover a desire unlike anything they’ve ever felt. Spring Awakening explores the confusion and desperation that ensue when the onrushing tide of hormones meets the ignorance of children and celebrates the unforgettable journey from youth to adulthood with a power, poignancy, and passion that you will never forget.

Category: Orange County, THEATRE

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