In an interview with Rachelle Montilus ‘24, she expressed that putting on this production was “the craziest experience of my life. It’s the most complex and heaviest balancing act I think I’ve ever had to do.”
Simone Kaye ‘23, who played Moritz, shared that “We repeatedly faced obstacles from organizations and individuals alike who didn’t believe in us or our vision enough to lend a helping hand, not even necessarily with money but with something as simple as a single prop. It was disappointing to have that sort of push back from people at a place like Muhlenberg, which boasts such a supportive environment for student artists.”
Kaye added that this was not in reference to the College as a whole, sharing “Jonah Adamcik, ‘Berg Production, MAC, Ellen Lentine, and Dean Williams all generously contributed to and supported us in our production and I am beyond grateful for that. If it wasn’t for Jonah and all of the student workers in ‘Berg Production, who stayed and worked on the show overtime, our show would not be possible.”
Preparation for “Spring Awakening” began at the end of May, when Montilus asked the Student Government Association (SGA) for $1,400 to buy the licensing to put on a musical. Originally, ATR thought they would be putting on “Spelling Bee.” Montilus explained, “We realized that we can’t force directors to do a show they weren’t passionate about. So I went into the general assembly meeting being very transparent, saying that the show might change. They approved the money so we could buy the copyrights for whatever show we wanted.”
Treasurer of SGA Evan Lippman ‘24 explained that “when SGA first voted on this request, it was for the production of ‘25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,’ which was for a fact stated as seen in our meeting minutes. ‘Spelling Bee,’ from my perspective as a non-theater person, is a very fun and light show. It is also a low cost show; ATR predicted that they would need around $200-300 for other costs besides the rights to the show.”
ATR changed the show to “Spring Awakening” when Secor became the director of the show. Montilus was apprehensive at first of doing “Spring Awakening,” a show that had a lot of sensitive topics, but when she met Secor and heard their pitch on what they wanted to do with the show, Montilus was sold. However, “Spring Awakening” was going to require more funding.
Olivia Tebsherany, vice president of SGA, shared “From my understanding, a motivation behind some SGA Representatives’ rejection of the $1000 ATR requested regarding Spring Awakening at General Assembly was because they were disappointed in the fact that SGA was not made aware of the change in show from ‘25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ (which was originally pitched and had its rights funded last semester) to ‘Spring Awakening.’ While I do understand this to an extent, I want to emphasize that last semester, Rachelle [Montilus] and ATR explicitly stated that their musical choice was subject to change based on director applications they received. ‘Spelling Bee’ was never the absolute final choice.”
When asked why ATR didn’t receive help from the theatre department, Montilus explained that it was hard to get help from the theatre department’s props master and scene shop, describing them as “very uncooperative.”
While they were able to borrow a handful of costumes, the show’s costume designer, Sarah Hansel ‘24, had to buy a lot of clothes because the theatre department did not have costumes for plus size actors or for those who are genderfluid and nonbinary.
Thus, ATR went to SGA requesting an additional $1,500 for “Spring Awakening.” This money would have covered additional expenses regarding microphones, costumes, scenic design, props and other supplemental things.
“We had to do our own funding. Our director made a GoFundMe and we raised $1,500 but there’s no reason that we as students had to do that ourselves.”Rachelle Montilus ’24
Lippman expressed, “Many members felt that ATR blindsided SGA in this regard by putting on a show that was of much more seriousness and required much more funding that SGA was not made aware of when we voted on the rights for the show last spring.”
The “Spring Awakening” crew was deep into the rehearsal process by the time of the SGA general assembly meeting. Montilus expressed, “At the end of the day, we needed that money, and they didn’t give it to us. And so we had to do our own funding. Our director made a GoFundMe and we raised $1,500 but there’s no reason that we as students had to do that ourselves. The infrastructure is here in that the school should fund student projects like that. We shouldn’t have to go and ask our families who are already paying thousands of dollars to send us here for more money.”
President of SGA, Ben Eber ‘23, explained, “The General Assembly meeting at which we voted on ATR’s financial requests saw historic highs in constituent turnout. ATR had two SCORE (Student Club and Organization Request for Expense) forms being voted on. The first was a $6,000 request for Muhlapalooza, and the second was a $1,500 request in additional funds for Spring Awakening, totalling $7,500 in requests from ATR. This is the most funding SGA would have ever given a club this young and is significantly more than has been allocated to any single non-permanent organization in recent years. The General Assembly voted to supply the full $6,000 for Muhlapalooza, an event that the General Assembly is extremely excited for.”
“If anyone would like to have a more integral role in making decisions like this, we encourage you to run for SGA in our upcoming special elections.”Ben Eber ’23
Muhlapalooza is an upcoming event currently being planned by ATR which will showcase various musical performances for the student body,
Montilus wants the Muhlenberg community to understand that “We’re all students at the end of the day… Students should be supporting students. We’re all busting our asses, breaking our backs to do for ourselves what the institute won’t do for us. And so, the challenge is, how can [the College] step it up?”
Eber added, “For many SGA members, voting ‘no’ to the ‘Spring Awakening’ request was a difficult decision, as many representatives had friends involved in the production, but I am confident that everyone voted in a manner they thought would best suit the student body, which is commendable. If anyone would like to have a more integral role in making decisions like this, we encourage you to run for SGA in our upcoming special elections. Be the change you want to see. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew of ‘Spring Awakening’ on a job well done!”
Tebsherany, conversely, stated “To this day, I personally do not understand why a lot of SGA was so heavily compelled to deny ATR the money for Spring Awakening, but quite honestly, the production was incredible, and I don’t believe the quality of the show was deterred by this denial.”
Additional quotes from SGA Vice President Olivia Tebsherany ’23 and Simone Kaye ’23 have been added to this article.