A few words with budding "Spring Awakening" actress

By Tatiana Craine

Recently, I had the chance to interview “Spring Awakening” touring cast-member, Sarah Hunt. Hunt plays the part of Martha, one of Wendla’s friends. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Hunt is well on her way towards becoming a broadway star. Tatiana Craine: The show Spring Awakening has been highly awarded, receiving 8 Tonys – including best musical in 2007. How does it feel to be part of the legacy of such a sensational show?

Sarah Hunt: You know I really feel honored. Quite the experience, all of us feel it’s such a wonderful message.

TC: You play the character of Martha, a girl who is essentially abused by her father and ignored by her mother. How much preparation went into your role in the touring company?
SH: Well, the directors and choreographers gave us a lot of table-work. That’s just when we sit around a table and discuss our characters extensively. We were given just pages and pages and pages of research on Germany in 1891 on topics like teenage suicide, families, and women’s roles in society. Originally I had been given the material in October of 2007, so from October until June or July I was preparing.

TC: The themes and events in Spring Awakening (like issues in school, sexual frustration, and coping with grief) are very prevalent in society today – even though the original play was written in 1891. It just goes to show that some things haven’t changed a whole lot in the last century, parents are still overbearing, school can be overwhelming, and teenagers are still curious as ever. Do you find you identify a lot with a certain scene or character in the show? And what is your favorite part about Spring Awakening?

SH: My favorite part personally, is “My Junk.” It’s a full ensemble piece about crushes on certain people and that spark that comes alive. It’s really cute and dramatic but it’s also rock [and roll], so I like that. My character is sexually molested and physically abused by her father, so I can’t really relate to her in that way at all. But there are different aspects to each character like heartbreaks and trials and tribulations of varying degrees. So on that aspect, I can relate. When we sing, we’re directed to break character so I wouldn’t be Martha anymore, I’d be Sarah. It’s very freeing and since I’m Sarah, I’m not singing about molestation in the songs-just about something bad that happened a long time ago or something wrong or hurtful.

TC: That’s really interesting! I didn’t know that you break character during the songs.

SH: Yeah, that’s the reason during the show, you’ll see people without microphones or lavaliers be given a microphone. The microphone you’re given is your voice-your modern voice.

TC: You recently graduated from high school in Portland, right? How did you get involved with the touring production of Spring Awakening?

SH: It was actually really lucky. I feel really lucky. One day, my drama teacher handed me a flier [for the open call] and said, “I don’t think you’d humiliate yourself if you went for this. You should give it a try.” I didn’t consider going until the night before, but I skipped school the next day and got a song [to sing at auditions]. I was waiting in line for six or seven hours and then I auditioned and got a few callbacks. Then I finally got the callback to New York. There were actually open calls all over the country.

TC: Since you’re fresh out of high school, how have you found this show compares to your previous theater experience?

SH: It’s neat because we’re all young. We get to be with our friends and family and coworkers on the road. What’s really neat is to be working with professionals. In high school, I was serious about acting and I knew I wanted to pursue it. But there were some that were just doing it for fun.

TC: Have you experienced any audience or press backlash about the subject matter of frustrated teenage sexuality?

SH: No, there hasn’t been any press backlash-even in more conservative states. Everyone seems to be receiving the show really well. However, every once in a while, people will walk out in the middle of the show, which is great if it’s not their cup of tea. There have been no real uprisings in the audience. Although there was one guy that said some obscenities loudly and then walked out. But that was a random one-time thing. The way I see it, is that even if people leave, at least they’ve felt something and were moved enough to walk out.

TC: Macalester College is home to quite a few talented theater majors, what kind of advice would you give aspiring actors and actresses?

SH: Well, theater majors should be giving me advice! [Laughs.] I think the key is to audition, audition, audition! Find them and look for them and go to every one you find. Even if you’re not cast you’re creating relationships with people and building talent and skills. The other night, Kyle, [Riabko] who plays Melchior, was giving some advice to the audience after the show. He said that you should always remember people you meet because you never know when they might come in handy. You might introduce yourself to someone at a party and then you’ve formed a connection and they’ll remember you later on down the line and maybe say that you’d be good for a certain role. Other than that, I’d say to keep training, keep taking voice lessons, and go to acting and dance workshops. It couldn’t hurt.