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Review by Vince Mediaa

Pacifica Spindrift Players continues to celebrate their 65th season with the Tony-honored SPRING AWAKENING for a winter run now on stage through January 28th at the Spindrift Playhouse. The “Guilty Ones” is directed by the skilled Jepoy Ramos who says “The landmark musical is an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality, and rock and roll that is exhilarating audiences across the nation like no other musical in years”. This cast of 15 features an amazing cast of POC Bay Area favorites. With musical direction by Jad Bernardo, vocal direction by Ilana Segal, and choreographer Alyssa Harrison collaborating to bring to life this important coming-of-age musical.

Ramos' smart staging includes the drama and angst of the original Broadway run directed by Michael Mayer. Growing up is a BITCH for teenage students in 19th century Germany, it’s a fight just to be heard, let alone get any answers. Parents and teachers alike dismiss their questions, fears, and anxieties. With only the guidance of their peers, teens Moritz, Wendla, Melchior, and Ilsa struggle to navigate religion, morality, sexuality, and dark emotions with heart-wrenching – and sometimes deadly – results.

Wendla is played by the compelling Samantha Ayoob; her on-point voice is powerful in the numbers “Mama Who Bore Me” and “Whispering”. Ayoob’s pitch-perfect sound brings all the adolescent struggles to her role as the curious teenager and she is properly naïve and tender as Wendla. She shows her standout acting and flawless voice during the duet “The Word of You Body” with Melchior.

Melchior - the lead male is played by the capable Edie Flores, who sometimes struggles with the volume of his voice. Flores has performed in this show in the past - his acting is strong but he may have been holding back on his singing potential. His many solos include "All That's Known" and "Those You've Known". Flores proves his strong vocals and acting in “The Mirror-Blue Night” and the duet “Guilty Ones” which surrounds both actors. Flores and Ayoob engage in the intense and moving sexual “I Believe” that ends the impressive first act. This is one of the first times since seeing the National Tour I have seen the light nudity during this song. Director Ramos and intimacy coach Gwynn Cristobal beautifully choreographed and collaborated with the actors to harness authentic affection on stage. More intimate choreography brings a gentle passion to the number “Touch Me” and sweet spring awakening in “The Word of Your Body Reprise” featuring Wesley Barker as Hanschen and Jon Gary Harris as Ernst.

Moritz is played by the profound Mickey Skinner, who creates a sensitive and realistic character as a troubled teen. Skinner kept their hair short as an eccentric expression to balance Audra Batter's costume of gray tones and ripped emotions. Skinner's voice shines in his solo including "And Then There Were None" with the Boys and his stunning pop punk song "A Bitch of Living" choreographed by Harrison who kept everyone bouncing with high energy.  Skinner’s keen body language and striking edgy moves bring his madness right to your seat.

Ilse is played by the stellar Catherine Traceski, she is compelling as a teen who returns after leaving the group. Under Jad Bernardo's beautiful music direction, Catherine Traceski has the perfect passion in the song “The Dark I Know Well” and brings sensitive care and power to Ilse along with Martha played by the stunning Sage Alberto. Both actors have elegant voices and bring depth to their roles. 

Hanchen is played by the confident Wesley Barker with his engrossing voice in the song “My Junk”. Barker is alongside the polished Jon Gary Harris as Ernst, both are believable as the homosexual couple. Their show-stopping reprise of "The Word of Your Body" and not-surprising stage kiss.

Georg is played by the exceptional Jack O’Reilly who has a terrific voice in this cast of talented actors. The sweet Georg vocalizations are strong and his popular solo “Touch Me”. He stands out in the dance numbers including “Totally Fucked’ in the second act.

Otto is played by the foolproof Joe Steely who is the perfect character actor and shows off his strong vocal and dance skills whenever he is featured. The no-nonsense ensemble also includes the indefatigable Paige Collazo as Thea and beaming Elane Yee as Anna who also supports the theme of “I Believe” that features the entire company.

Local favorites Charles Evans and Leslie Newport play the roles of the adult man and woman. Both able actors properly textured their various adult roles. Newport’s German accent as the female teacher causes some laughter in a play that is anything but humorous.

The open set by Alexis Orth includes a clever tree designed with schoolroom chairs. The space is filled with props and rich intimate lighting design by Carson Duper and Nicolas Marinos who highlights many of the dark moments in the story. Audra Batter’s costumes are full of character for the girls, with layers of earth tones, the boys in their school uniforms and knee-high socks are very dapper. The fit is “uniform and character-specific”. Fight choreographer Raisa Donato kept the boys' rumble thrilling as Melchior deals with failing school. The Sound Design by Jared Alexander and Jack O’Reilly had no individual mics used but the cast was clear and audible. Stage manager Sara Ramos kept the 15-member cast on cue.

Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s brilliant rock score and emotional book bring this story to vibrant life with illuminating sexual tension and passion. The highlights of Ramos’ staging include bringing the action downstage during the intense emo of both Wendla and Melchior. Harrison’s movement and dance brought this SPRING AWAKENING to a passionate level and honored the original themes. The show ends in the cemetery of the lost children transitioning to the powerful “The Song of Purple Summer” which fades the characters into a hopeful silhouette.

Today over 100 years later, young people still fight for reliable mentors to hear and support them, and without that guidance, young adults, and even younger can enter dark worlds of depression, sexual recklessness, and suicide. SPRING AWAKENING highlights the agelessness of this experience and demands real answers and real action. I would like to dedicate this excellent production and all their sold-out performances to the many local Bay Area actors we have lost to some of these issues. We are all the Guilty Ones; do what you can see this spellbinding SPRING AWAKENING.

Pacifica Spindrift Players Present


Book by Steven Sater and Music by Duncan Sheik

Directed by Jepoy Ramos

Music Director Jad Bernardo

Choreographer  Alyssa Harrison

Vocal Director Ilana Segal

Artistic Director Doug Greer


Pacifica Spindrift Players

1050 Crespi Drive, Pacifica, California 94044

Easy Free Parking on site

2 hours 15 min with an intermission


Photos by Scott Lasky and Jepoy Ramos


Sam Ayoob Wendla

Edie Flores Melchior

Mickey Skinner Moritz

Catherine Traceski Ilse

Sage Alberto Martha

Paige Collazo Thea & Ilse Understudy

Elaine Yee Anna & Wendla Understudy

Wesley Barker Hanschen

Jon Gary Harris Ernst

Jack O'Reilly Georg & Melchior Understudy

Joe Steely Otto & Moritz Understudy

Leslie Newport Adult Woman

Charles Evans Adult Man

Ellison Smerdon Swing

Audrey Degon Swing


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