The supporting ensemble is terrific, too, especially Kathryn Foley (Anna); Nick Arapoglou (Georg/Dieter); and Jordan Dell Harris and Bernard Jones, who are cast somewhat against Aryan type as Hanschen and Ernst, the Achilles and Patroclus of this art-imitating-Latin-class tableaux. The ever-versatile comedienne LaLa Cochran and the penguin-like Robert Wayne are superb in the adult roles. It’s particularly funny to see Cochran’s buttoned-up German persona turn into a dominatrix. Her reading of Melchior’s mother’s letter to Moritz is moving and eloquent.
And speaking of Moritz, words fail to describe Greg Bosworth’s take on the tortured character. A role that won John Gallagher Jr. a Tony Award, Moritz is generally known as “the one with the hair," and here it’s an asymmetrical ‘do inspired by ’80s rockers and Tim Burton’s twisted Victoriana. Bosworth is a major talent (I’d love to see him play Hedwig or Bat Boy). Your heart will bleed for Moritz.
Previously, I saw “Spring Awakening” at Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre and at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre; Actor’s Express’ intimate arrangement only illumines the emotional contours of this exhilarating ride. Like most musicals, the show takes a few numbers to hit its stride, but when Melchior realizes he’s about to get his punishment and the ensemble kicks into full-tilt Bill T. Jones mode, bodies popping like champagne corks, “Spring Awakening” goes pinnacle. It’s that rare theatrical commodity that gets under your skin and will not let go. I could see watch this exquisitely dark approximation of the chaos of youth again and again. Stunning.
8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays. 2 p.m. Sundays. $26-$32. Through Oct. 1. Actor’s Express, 887 West Marietta St. NW, Suite J-107. Atlanta. 404-607- 7469; actorsexpress.com
Bottom line: A beautiful and intimate telling of the seething Broadway musical about teen angst.