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Santa Barbara Theatre Initiative for Young Adults Presents ‘Spring Awakening’

The cast of the Santa Barbara Theatre Initiative for Young Adults’s production of ‘Spring Awakening.’
The cast of the Santa Barbara Theatre Initiative for Young Adults’s production of ‘Spring Awakening.’ (SB TIYA photo)

The Santa Barbara Theatre Initiative for Young Adults, a new theater company led by high school and college students with a mission of providing an alternative creative and dramatic outlet for young adults, brings to life a controversial and ambitious production as its first venture.

Natalie Kellogg, founder and high school senior, directs a compelling adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening. She is joined by a production team including assistant director Will Geare, producer Vida Loose, artistic consultant Juan Dean Garcia and lighting designer Liam Strong.

Wedekind’s work is a provocative story that takes on the theme of miscommunication between teens and adults regarding sexuality, mental health and freedom of expression in 1880s Germany.

The story follows a group of curious and forward-thinking adolescents struggling with growing up in a culture that is largely focused on maintaining strict adherence to tradition.

Melchior Gabor (Matthew Doohan) is a young man who, unlike the authority figures in his life such as his parents (Sydney Wesson and Antonio De Nunzio) and his Reverend (Ryan Thompson), has denied the existence of God and has accepted that sex does not equate to love and marriage.

His disconcerting encounters with Wendla Bergmann (Camille Umoff) cause him to question everything he once believed. Wendla, a naive and inquisitive girl, has entered into a period of exploration after a life of obedience to her overbearing mother (Amanda Probst).

Moritz Stiefel (Will Geare), who struggles at the onset of his “masculine stirrings,” finds it difficult to connect with other people, causing him to push away those most important to him, including a childhood friend, Ilse (Vida Loose), who could have guided him out of the dark.

With the rest of the cast portraying troubled adolescents Hansy Rilow (Quique Hernandez), Martha Bessell (Riva Brody), Thea (Lylah Ehrnstein) and George Zirschnitz (Cooper Umoff), Spring Awakening brings to light relevant issues that pertain to youth in late-19th-century Germany as much as they do to youth today.

Kellog's production of Spring Awakening opens Jan. 9, 2016, at 7 p.m. at St. Michael’s University Church, 6586 Picasso Road in Goleta, with only one other performance Jan. 10, 2016, at 7 p.m.

Spring Awakening is not suitable for young children due to strong sexual content and adult themes.

Tickets, which are $12 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors, can be purchased at the door or online at

More information about future events can be found at

— Riva Brody is the marketing consultant for the Santa Barbara Theatre Initiative for Young Adults.


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