"Spring Awakening:" A cautionary tale

Gianni Storti '26 and Nico Miller ’24 share their insight on the rehearsal process, arts culture on campus, and the importance behind "Spring Awakening."

Nico Miller and Gianni Storti pose in character in Spring AwakeningPhoto/Sam Williams

Melchior and Wendla consider their desires in "The Word of Your Body."

“'Spring Awakening' is a cautionary tale, showing what can happen when youth are censored and can’t express themselves,” says Gianni Storti ’26, the actor portraying one of the lead characters in the theater department’s fall production of "Spring Awakening."

Storti, playing Melchoir Gabor, and Nico Miller ’24, who plays Wendla Bergmann, are thrilled to be taking on the complex and challenging leading roles for this production. The two characters face adversity among their peers, enduring themes of sexual assault, sexual situations, violence, explicit language and suicide. 

This is Storti’s first production on campus and Miller’s first musical at Brandeis. The two share their insight on the rehearsal process, arts culture on campus, and the importance behind "Spring Awakening."

Tickets for these performances can be purchased in the Shapiro Campus Center Atrium or through the department’s online ticketing system. The show opened November 11-13 and runs November 18-20 for a final weekend.

What is the audition process like for each production?

Miller: It’s very different from production to production, depending on the director’s vision. Usually there’s an audition where each person comes in and performs a monologue and a song. People are then called back to read and perform in group scenes.

For "Spring Awakening" the callback process was different because it was mainly focused on singing. We were each given sheet music to learn in the time between the initial auditions and the callback. We then just drilled the songs together, singing them individually and as a group, over and over.

Storti: This was my first college audition. I performed in musicals throughout high school, but this felt like the stakes were higher. It was the first time I had to come to an audition with a monologue prepared.

I came into the auditions very nervous, but as soon as I stepped into the room, I started to feel much better. The whole process wasn’t as stressful and scary as I was anticipating because it’s such a welcoming group of performers and directors.

What was your reaction when you found out you got the part in Spring Awakening?

Miller: I was just hoping to get a speaking role. When I saw my name on that list I lost my mind. I have never had a lead role before, so I was thrilled.

Storti: It was kind of a surreal feeling. I just wanted to be involved with the show, but seeing my name for Melchoir was a very moving moment. I called my mom and dad right away to share the big news. It was also awesome seeing my friends’ names on the list too.

How do you ground yourself in performing such serious work?

Miller: It’s intense. We had a lot of discussions with our directors about each of the serious topics of the show. We also implemented a specific tap in, tap out system. When you walk into the rehearsal room you tap into your character and all of their experiences. When you leave the room you have to leave your character behind and walk away from it.

Gianni and I also have our own rehearsal tradition because we work so closely together. We clap hands to tap into our scenes, take a deep breath, and get into character. It really grounds us in the process.

What is the community feeling like among cast and crew members?

Miller: It’s my favorite part of participating in the theater department productions. It’s such a great environment with so much love and support for one another. We’ve formed our own community. You’re not scared when you’re performing because you know everyone has your back. It’s a comforting feeling.

What has your experience with the arts been like at Brandeis?

Storti: When I toured Brandeis as a senior in high school the tour guides talked about the different arts events on campus. They talked a lot about the 24-hour musical and really made it feel special. That was one of the first sparks that influenced me to attend Brandeis.

Although Brandeis is known for being a research school, there’s such a strong arts community. Looking at the Rose Art Museum and all of the creative programs on campus, you can feel how important the arts are on campus. Whether you’re participating in a program or attending a performance, there’s this feeling of respect and value for the arts.

What is the most important message of the show?

Miller: There are so many important messages. There is the importance of being true to yourself above authority. Trusting yourself. The show also has a huge message about self love and loving other people. Putting yourself first is so important. "Spring Awakening" is so interesting because so many of the themes, such as those on abortion and bodily autonomy, are really relevant in American right now.

Storti: "Spring Awakening: is a show that means a lot to a lot of different people. I always give people a fair warning that the show features sexually explicit content, violence, abuse, and suicide. It’s a heavy show, but there’s a reason for it.

The show is a cautionary tale, showing what can happen when youth are censored and can’t express themselves. It’s also relatable, as people may watch this show and feel seen or know a friend who has experienced something similar. It shows us how we can move forward when faced with struggle. "Spring Awakening" takes place over a hundred years ago, but people handle similar experiences and challenges today.

Categories: Arts, General, Student Life

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage