When the smash Broadway musical Spring Awakening opens to audiences in Glasgow and Dundee in March, the curtain will rise on a dynamic new partnership between two of the country’s leading arts institutions.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Dundee Rep have joined forces for Spring Awakening — the first time Scotland’s national conservatoire has staged a musical theatre production in collaboration with a professional company.
The award-winning, coming-of-age rock musical follows a group of teenagers as they navigate the transition from adolescence to adulthood, grappling with love, sex, rebellion and death. It will also be a journey of discovery for the Royal Conservatoire students who are being given an invaluable insight into professional life.
Spring Awakening will bring together emerging artists from across the disciplines in Musical Theatre, Music, Production Arts and Design and Production Technology and Management. They will work as equals alongside the Rep’s acting Ensemble and creative team in what will be a unique, and immersive, educational experience.
Joining students on stage in Spring Awakening’s adult roles will be actors and Royal Conservatoire alumni Ann Louise Ross and Barrie Hunter from Dundee Rep, the only permanent acting ensemble in Scotland. Both have worked extensively in theatre, film, television and radio. Ann Louise’s theatre credits include The Maids, August: Osage County, Death of a Salesman and Sunshine on Leith and she has starred in Trainspotting, Whisky Galore, River City and Hamish Macbeth. Barrie has performed on stage in The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth and appeared in The Angel’s Share, Fast Romance, Rab C. Nesbitt and Still Game.
The joint production of Spring Awakening further cements a relationship that has seen new graduates from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland take their first steps on the professional stage at Dundee Rep. Tom England, a 2017 BA Acting graduate, and Emma Mullen, Hannah Pauley and Jamie Pritchard, from the Musical Theatre class of 2017, are currently part of Dundee Rep’s year-long Graduate Actor Scheme.
Hugh Hodgart, Director of Drama, Dance, Production and Film at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has had a very warm and collaborative relationship with the Rep for many years and past interactions have proved to be mutually beneficial to both organisations and our audiences — BA Acting students’ involvement in minor roles in the award-winning 2007 production of Peer Gynt being a shining example. That was an invaluable learning opportunity, not only for our students but for the members of the Ensemble who seized the opportunity to act informally as mentors as well as welcome the students into the company as equals.
“This new joint venture is not merely a continuation but a step change in our relationship, being the first Royal Conservatoire of Scotland production to be staged in Scotland in association with a professional company, and with their actors playing key roles. There is an equally strong partnership for our production students who will be fulfilling key roles behind the scenes. I am absolutely delighted and most grateful to our friends at the Rep for joining us in this exciting venture. I hope it will be the first of many.”
Spring Awakening, based on the 1891 German play by Frank Wedekind, opens at the Royal Conservatoire’s New Athenaeum Theatre in Glasgow on March 10 and runs until March 16, before transferring to Dundee Rep from March 22 to 24.
Winner of eight Tony awards, four Oliviers and a Grammy for best musical show album, the production redefined the boundaries between music and theatre when it debuted on Broadway in 2006. It’s staged by the creative team behind the Royal Conservatoire’s critically acclaimed productions of Chess, Cabaret and West Side Story.
Professor Andrew Panton, Artistic Director of Musical Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Artistic Director of Dundee Rep, said: “Spring Awakening is the first collaboration in my role as Artistic Director of Dundee Rep, in my first season of shows, and I’m thrilled that it is with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
“The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Dundee Rep have many shared values – both are creative, cultural hubs that believe in nurturing the next generation of performance and production talent. Spring Awakening will be a wonderfully rich learning experience for the Royal Conservatoire’s professionals-in-training, who will work side-by-side with actors from the Rep Ensemble and the theatre’s creative and production teams.
“Audiences can expect a musical that redefined the form in many ways. It’s a poignant, passionate and powerful production, a mix of a play and a musical, set in period, with electro, rock and pop music. Even though the original play was written in 1891, it’s a story that’s still completely relevant today, dealing with universal themes like love, morality and sexuality.”
Actor Ann Louise Ross, of Dundee Rep, said: “Spring Awakening. A piece about young people on the brink of adulthood. Working with a cast of young people on the brink of their professional careers is very exciting and stimulating. It’s 50 years since I came down from Inverness to study at the RSAMD as it was known then. I hope the students can realise that hard work and commitment is always the way to go. Take the work seriously but have fun. What other profession would give us permission to come to work to play?”
Actor Barrie Hunter, of Dundee Rep, said: “I’m delighted to be working alongside the students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and look forward to seeing how much we, as members of the Dundee Rep Ensemble, can offer to them in terms of our experience and expertise in the profession-and how much they can offer us in terms of their youth, energy and also their expertise in their chosen strand of theatre, namely musical theatre. I’m sure it will be a learning curve for us all, and where better to have that happen but in my old place of training – the RSAMD, as it was in my time there.”
Spring Awakening tickets are available from our box office.