Volume 10 Week 10

Sunday, Dec. 14


Updated March 2

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette





(Posted 5:30 p.m., March 13)

Orléans own Steffi D. loving life on the road in hit Broadway musical
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

Orléans own Steffi Didomenicantonio, better known to thousands of Canadians as Steffi D., stars in the national Broadway touring production of Spring Awakening which is coming to Toronto for a five week stint starting next Tuesday. Photo supplied

When Orléans native Steffi Didomenicantonio went to see the Tony Award winning musical Spring Awakening during a trip to New York City in 2006, it immediately supplanted Rent as her most favourite musical ever.

"I fell in love with it right away. It was very cutting edge in terms of the content, but the music was just incredible. I ended up buying the CD and I listened to it every day," says Steffi who became a household name during Season 4 of Canadian Idol when she captured the hearts of Canadians from coast to coast and made it all the way to the Top 5.

After that experience, Steffi enrolled at George Brown College Theatre School in Toronto. Shortly after moving to T.O. a friend told Steffi that a company was holding open auditions for a national Broadway tour of Spring Awakening.

Less than a week after auditioning she was flown to New York where she was offered the role of Ilse, a free spirit who runs away from home to live as a Bohemian.

After weeks of intense rehearsals, the show opened for a pre-tour engagement at the Bilboa Theatre in San Diego at the end of August. Stops followed in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles and Tempe, Arizona.

After a two week break for the holidays, during which Steffi was able to celebrate Christmas in Orléans, the tour resumed in Tampa, followed by stops in Houston, Des Moines (Iowa), Minneapolis, Columbus (Ohio), St. Louis, East Lansing (Michigan) and Cleveland where it will wrap up on Saturday before moving on to Toronto for a five week stint at the Canon Theatre starting March 17.

It's been a hectic schedule for the young cast which must perform up to eight shows a week. (They get Mondays off and a couple of days between each city.) When the show wraps up in Cleveland they will have done 214 performances in the past eight months. While on tour they stay in hotels and east mostly restaurant food or catered meals.

"It's a lot, but I absolutely love it," says Steffi, who has never suffered for a lack of energy. "I fall in love with the play every night I do it."

When they're not rehearsing or performing, they try and get out and do a little sightseeing or stay in and watch a movie. There are 20 members in the cast all but two of whom are in their late teens or early 20s. The two exceptions are the lone adult cast members.

Steffi can hardly wait until the show opens in Toronto and her friends and family can come see her perform.

"There's a big gang of about 20 of my friends from Ottawa who are coming down, and, of course, all the guys I know from Toronto will be there. It's going to be a lot of fun," says Steffi.

The show itself is based on a controversial play written by German playwright Frank Wedekind in 1891 about the trials and tribulations of a group of young people who are discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality within a sexually oppressed society.

The play tackles issues such as teenage pregnancy, suicide, sexual abuse, abortion and masturbation all centred around an alt-rock sound track that would put the Rocky Horror Picture Show and High School Musical to shame.

Although the target audience is anyone over the age of 16, there's no question that the issues and the music are aimed at today's teenagers who are discussing the same types of issues everyday through a variety of social networks. Still the show's producers are sensitive to the fact that some people may find the subject material controversial to say the least.

In order to address parent concerns they've posted a message on the Spring Awakening website in which they point out that many parents who have come to the show with their teenage children have found it valuable in opening the lines of communication between the two generations.

"We have received such a major response, not just from young people, but from parents wanting to share their unique experience with Spring Awakening and its role in helping start a conversation with their sons and daughters. They tell us that the musical opens the door to discuss the topics the 'adults' in the show fear to discuss or are determined to ignore."

For Steffi, who first say the play when she was 17, Spring Awakening speaks to her entire generation.

"This is our Rent. We even have an entire group of fans who call themselves 'The Guilty Ones' It's a real phenomenon. There's guy here in Cleveland who's been to every single show," says Steffi who still pinches herself every morning during the tour.

"It's a dream come true. It really is. To wake up every morning and get to perform in a show that I love so much and that I dreamed about. It's hard to describe how amazing and special it really is. I love it.."

For schedule and ticket information visit www.mirvish.com. Evening performances are staged every night from Tuesday to Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinees are held on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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