Spring Awakening, which debuted on Broadway in 2006 and garnered eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, is currently being presented at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts. Several hundred young actors from Long Island and Manhattan auditioned for the Long Island Professional Première of this award-winning musical which runs through August 20.
Patch recently caught up with Courtney Braun who is among the stellar cast of players who depict the inner turmoil of young people experiencing the first, confusing stirrings of sexual desire in Germany in the early part of the 20th century. The show has generated considerable controversy because it confronts issues of adolescent sexuality, child abuse, teen suicide, and abortion head-on, without pulling any punches.
Braun, 16, will start her junior year at Kings Park High School in September. She was bitten by the acting bug when she was six or seven years old. Her varied credits include Dora the Explorer, Beauty and the Beast, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. This talented young actress has also appeared in Long Island productions of Annie, Aladdin, and Grease.
Braun plays Thea, an innocent who voices very real concerns about the failure of her parents-- and those of her friends- to notice their children’s emotional turmoil and provide guidance and the most basic information about the facts of life.
PATCH: What made you want to audition for this show?
BRAUN: I saw the show three times on Broadway and the National Tour. It’s my favorite show. I saw it with my best friend, Ashley [Ashley Reyes, who plays Wendla] and we auditioned together. It’s a dream come true. This is a show that you can see several times and see something new each time.
PATCH: The show is controversial in dealing with the issues of budding sexuality and child abuse. What do you like about Thea, the character you play in Spring Awakening?
BRAUN: She’s innocent compared to everyone else. She’s naïve about facts. She has a line, “What are we supposed to do if our parents don’t tell us?” She’s the one who finally realizes certain things. These are issues that everyone goes through. If you don’t experience them personally, you’ll know a friend or family member who has.
PATCH: What lessons do you think the audience will come away with or did you learn from the show?
BRAUN: “The Song of Purple Summer” [the show’s last song] is a message to parents that these things will happen. There’ll be change, but it can be beautiful.
PATCH: What was your experience as part of such a talented cast?
BRAUN: We’re all so close. We needed a cast that could work together with such difficult material. It was no problem.