Spring Awakening: Big Production, Small Space
When J. Scott Lapp and Jordan Beck, co-producers of the popular musical series, Cabaret at the Merc, decided to expand their horizons and bring even larger Broadway-style entertainment to Temecula, they encountered an unusual problem that producers on the great white way would never experience.
“Some people look at the size of the theater as a limitation, as far as what you can do and, because there are only a certain amount of people you can get in there, it does present some issues,” Lapp said of the 48-seat limitation at The Merc; the cabaret-style venue inside the Old Town Temecula Community Theater complex.
When creating their Summer Series, which consists of full scale musical productions, Lapp and Beck had to get a little creative with their space.
“The Merc is unique because you can change the orientation of which way the audience sits and how they sit,” Lapp said. “It’s kind of like something you’d see in New York, where you’d go downstairs, maybe underneath a theater, and there’s this cabaret or another small theater down there and it has totally been remodeled, depending on what they’re doing that night. So, that’s sort of the model of what we were doing when we started the Summer Series.”
From August 8th through the 11th, Lapp and Beck will present the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Spring Awakening, to Temecula. Based on the 1891 expressionist play written by Frank Wedekind, Spring Awakening debuted on Broadway in 2006.
“The show is about the trials and tribulations of the teen years and growing up and learning about yourself,” Lapp said. “It’s about dealing with hormones and the ignorance of being a kid and communication issues with parents. It kind of celebrates that journey from being a kid to adulthood.”
A rock musical with music by recording artist, Duncan Sheik, and book and lyrics by Steven Sater, Spring Awakening’s original cast included Glee’s Lea Michele, Frozen’s Jonathan Groff and Pitch Perfect’s Skylar Astin.
The Temecula production stars Emily Chelsea and Nick Eiter as the two leads, Wendla and Melchior; part of the stellar cast of thirteen exceptional talents. Lapp and Beck were able to use their professional connections to present a Times Square caliber show in a much smaller community.
“The cool thing about the Summer Series is we can get these incredible performers because it’s just two weeks,” Lapp said. “We start on a Sunday, we rehearse for two weeks, and then we only have four shows. So, because of the short time commitment, we are able to get incredible talent from New York and LA to come in and audition for these shows.”
Spring Awakening, and the rest of the productions for Lapp and Beck’s Summer Series, gives the audience the one-of-a-kind opportunity to see the most talented performers in the business in a very intimate setting.
“This is a big rock musical that’s normally seen in a big house in front of thousands of people and we’re putting the audience right in the middle of the experience,” Lapp said. “You don’t have all the bells and whistles at The Merc so it really puts the emphasis on the performers. These are brilliant musicals and, in this venue, we are able to communicate the material in a new way.”
For more information or the purchase tickets, visit the website for the Old Town Temecula Community Theater or cabaretatthemerc.com.
August 8-11 at The Merc