Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kyle Riabko Touched Me - Spring Awakening - Musical Review

Spring Awakening - National Tour - Canon Theatre - Toronto, ON - ****1/2 (out of 5)
Music and Lyrics by Duncan Sheik, Book by Steven Sater, Directed by Michael Mayer, Choreographed by Bill T. Jones
Currently in Providence, begins Boston stop next week.

You know I love the show. You can read that here, here, here, here, here, here, and here as well as my review of the current National Touring cast at the start of the Toronto run when Matt Doyle joined the cast while Kyle Riabko was temporarily away.

So let's get down to it. Kyle Riabko came back as Melchior for the final week in Toronto.

And Kyle was... very different. Very different than any of the Melchiors I had seen before. Very different than the naive and innocent but strong Matt Doyle. Very different than the sheepishness and shyness of Perry Sherman. Not as bold and upstanding as original Jonathan Groff. And not as alluring as Hunter Parrish.

But Kyle brings a different Melchior to the stage and while it wasn't my favorite of the interpretations, it was still strong in its own way. Kyle's diction is incredibly precise, and he brought on a "British theatre acting" (a term that just sort of came to my head while watching him, even though it doesn't actually refer to anything specific) to the role. He also seems to have a slower rhythm that has less naturalism but seems to bring out a lot more of the humour and comedic beats that Broadway had that had been missing on the tour so far. Kyle's different rhythms seems to also change the rhythms of his fellow cast mates and I found Toronto laughed at very different spots during the final week compared to when Matt Doyle was on. It was interesting to see the little things change so much with the different leads.

Kyle Riabko also tends to have an air of cynicism or seems a bit like a preppy ass (he's smart and he knows it, as opposed to the others who played it as he's smart but didn't know it), it makes his final breakdown at the end far more emotionally compelling and it was probably the most heartfelt and disturbing final scene.

Kyle's voice wasn't as strong as Matt's and he couldn't always hit the high notes on "Mirror Blue Night", yet he did one of the better "Left Behind"'s, which is usually the hardest one to hit.

On some side notes, I noticed that Ben Moss (Ersnt) REALLY stays in character, as twice, during "I Believe", the swinging platform would smash into his face but he refused to move to stay in character along with everyone else. Now THAT'S commitment. Yet slightly horrifying since his gorgeous face CANNOT get damaged.

And "Touch Me" still might be my favorite number. It wasn't the first time but it kept slowly rising up in the ranks. Still love "Mirror Blue Night" and the choreography that goes with it, and "My Junk" is performed with such zest by the touring cast that it started drawing huge applause by the end of the Toronto run (finally!) and brought back the sparkle that song always had for me.

Vance at


Keira Andrews said...

Kyle's Melchi does seem a bit like a preppy ass. He's a touch condescending to Mortiz, and he's more truly cynical than the other Melchiors I've seen. I saw Kyle twice (both matinees on the last weekend) and the first time his voice was really fried. He had no belt, and since I've heard raves about his singing, I figured he wasn't at his best. Luckily things were much better for Sunday's final show. I'm glad I saw both, because if I'd only seen him the first time I wouldn't have been very impressed. He's my least favourite Melchi (in order, that would be: Doyle, Parrish, Sherman, Riabko), but overall I did really enjoy his performance, and I'd love to see him in another role. He seems like a really sweet guy and I'm hoping Limelight will get picked up for the fall.

Ben Moss's face definitely needs to be protected! Hee. I absolutely love his Ernst. He and Andy Mientus are my fave Hanschen/Ernst combo. They have such great chemistry and both have beautiful voices. I could watch the vineyard scene all day long and never tire of it.

Anonymous said...

I saw Ben Moss in his street clothes walking from Yonge-Dundas Square to the Canon a little more than an hour before the last Saturday matinee. I fleetingly considered telling him to break a leg (or perhaps something about skimming off the cream), but I didn't want to scare the boy.

The platform actually hit him in the face?!

I agree that Kyle was... different. Hard to say in what way. The first time I saw him (his first perf. in Toronto) I thought he 'read' old (he seemed more like more like a college boy than a high school kid--perhaps it's that "British theatre acting," which made hims seem like a character out of The History Boys... aside: when is that play going to be produced in Toronto?!), but the second time I liked him better.

I agree that his singing was not outstanding, but in the end I liked his acting and his interpretation of the character.

Vance said...

canmark! I see you all the time on the BWWMsgBoards! (And I think I've seen you at the theatre but from afar)!

The platform him Ben a FEW times in the face and he did NOT move. He would just let it smash into him.

(Actually, yah, when IS The History Boys going to be made in Toronto?)