Characters / Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening

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Melchior Gabor
Played by Jonathan Groff (OBC), Austin Mc Kenzie (2015 revival)

Headstrong, handsome, and charismatic. He knows much more than the others because of what he reads in books. Melchior is the best friend to Moritz, and often finds himself getting into trouble for standing up for his nervous wreck of a friend. He is also a love interest to Wendla. See Unwanted Harem for his other admirers (the whole teenage female cast, bar Martha.)


  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Just before "My Junk," all of the girls swoon over Melchior's intellect, atheism, and most of all his general lack of caring.
  • Big "NO!": On discovering Wendla's freshly-dug grave. Often repeated by the Groff (and Austin Mc Kenzie), but other Melchiors just went for one.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Though Moritz is far more brooding of the two male heroes, Melchior certainly has some Byronic characteristics, particularly in contrast with Wendla's gentleness and innocence.
  • Hands-On Approach: Even after giving him a graphically detailed manual, Melchior tries this in teaching Moritz sexuality lessons during "Touch Me."
  • Hollywood Atheist: Contrary to his culture and era's staunch Christianity, Melchior is an atheist, as well as a careless cynic and believer in free love.
  • Pretty Boy: Melchior is traditionally played by slender, attractive actors with a defined bone structure.
  • Survivor Guilt: Expresses this for Moritz in "Left Behind," and once again for Wendla just before "Those You've Known," so much so he considers suicide.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Starts out as a cynic doubting his faith in God, loses his best friend to suicide and his love interest to a botched abortion, is sent to a boarding school where he's bullied relentlessly, and attempts suicide himself. "Those You've Known" suggests that this earns him Iron Woobie status.

Moritz Stiefel
Played by John Gallagher, Jr. (OBC), Daniel Durant and Alex Boniello (2015 revival)

Melchior's insecure best friend whose dreams of women haunt him to the point that he is too afraid to fall asleep. He is disgusted by his new sexual feelings and his inability to control them. As this is the 19th century, he is terrified to even speak of such things aloud, and asks Melchior to write down the knowledge he needs and to slip it into his satchel after Gym class.
  • Abusive Parents: His dad beating him, verbally abusing him, and kicking him out of his own home for failing an exam is one of the reasons of his suicide.
  • Adults Are Useless: Many ways for Moritz. Firstly, he is made to fail by Herr Knochenbruch an Fraulein Knuppeldick, then is kicked out of his home by his own father who beats him AND, if that wasn't enough, is then refused his thousand bucks to escape to America by Melchior's mother whom shrugs off his problems.
  • Ate His Gun: The stage directions specifically call for this.note 
  • Cry Laughing: Some incarnations have Moritz do this during, appropriately, "Don't Do Sadness".
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: To a certain extent, for Melchior. His funeral produces one of Melchior's most emotional moments, the Grief Song "Left Behind", but for Melchior's closest relationship in the play he's turned aside pretty quickly when being accused of causing Moritz's suicide spurns the largely comical "Totally Fucked". Sadly, this is fairly representative of their whole relationship, including when Moritz was alive.
  • Ghost Song: He and Wendla appear to Melchior as ghosts. They float out of their graves and everything.


Wendla Bergman
Played by Lea Michele (OBC), Sandra Mae Frank and Katie Boeck (2015 revival)

An innocent, friendly young woman. A childhood friend to the others and eventual love interest to Melchior. She opens the musical with her song "Mama Who Bore Me", searching for answers to the questions she has about life.


  • Ghost Song:
    • "Those You've Known", and arguably to some shade "Whispering". The latter seems as if Wendla is predicting the consequences of her actions and eventual death.
    • "See the father bent in grief/The mother dressed in mourning/Sister crumbles, and the neighbours grumble/Preacher issues warning."
  • The Ingenue: Wendla's virginity and excessive naïveté drives much of the plot: it's played for drama in that it is directly correlated to her rape and later pregnancy, and it's exploited by her parents who desire her to continue to remain one.
  • Pajama Clad Heroine: Although, because of her... anemia. It is what she appears in in "Those You've Known" as it is what she probably died in. She changes into her normal clothes for "The Song of Purple Summer."
  • Purity Personified: Throughout her tragic narrative, she has experiences that would normally result in Innocence Lost, but she manages to hold on to her idealism and goodness throughout it all, even in death.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: She is virtually Purity Personified, and is killed by, in short, a combination of her mother's lies and being sexually taken advantage of.

Ilse Neumann
Played by Lauren Pritchard (OBC), Krysta Rodriguez (2015 revival)

A childhood friend of the group. She is seen as a sign of something that could happen to Martha if she speaks out about what happens to her at home. Ilse is portrayed in "The Dark I Know Well" as an echo of what Martha is going through; Ilse was beaten and sexually abused by her father, and Martha is at the time of the song. Martha yearns to escape, and we never actually learn if she does. Ilse now lives in an artist's colony named Priapia with the Bohemians, but the girls think of this as no way to live for their fallen friend.


  • Innocence Lost: "Until this morning, when he woke me with a gun, set against my breast. He said: 'One twitch and it's the end.' Really gave me the goose bumps."
  • Love Triangle: Type 3 with Martha and Moritz. She and Martha have feelings for Moritz, who can't quite handle his feelings for anyone.
  • MacGuffin: The flowers she carries are, you guessed it, purple summer flowers—the name of the song of redemption and new life that Ilse leads the whole cast in at the end of the show. But before this and when Moritz rejects her, she runs back to Priapia. These flowers become the flowers the teenagers place on Moritz's open casket one by one, and the actress playing Ilse must drop them in an exact place as she runs off.
  • Quirky Curls: Most renditions of Ilse have this, beginning with Lauren Pritchard.
  • Stepford Smiler: Most incarnations have her smile and be playful despite all the terrible, terrible things happening to her.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: For her last scene with Moritz, she wears nothing but a man's white shirt. Less sexy when you consider she's a teenager, and who that shirt belongs to.

     Secondary 

Hanschen Rilow
Played by Jonathan B. Wright (OBC), Andy Mientus (2015 revival)

A very humorous, almost arrogant classmate of the boys. An effortless perfectionist who easily seduces Ernst.


  • All Gays Are Promiscuous: Hanschen is by far the most overtly forward and flirtatious character in the play.
  • Bury Your Gays: Averted. He and Hanschen survive the play completely intact (if by virtue of disappearing from the action for a bit when Melchior's story comes back into focus) and the original play was strongly censored because it did not show the boys as criminals receiving inevitable punishment. (As well as, y'know, Wendla's rape and... the general plot.)
  • Double Entendre:
    Hanschen: (suggestively, to Ernst) We'll huddle over the Homer. Maybe do a little Achilles and Patroclus...
  • Foil: To Melchior. Both are striking, charismatic young boys who hold power and maturity over their respective significant others. Though Hanschen is typically played as more comical than Melchior, he, at the very least, is more conscious of his partner's consent or lack thereof than the latter.
    Ernst: On my way here, I thought perhaps we'd only talk.
    Hanschen: (pulling back) So, are you sorry we-
    Ernst: No, I love you, Hanschen!
  • Urban Legend Love Life: Though it's never explicitly stated, Hanschen's behavior and language heavy with double meanings and suggests he presents himself as something of a casanova, though the girls seem more interested in either the rebellious Melchior or brooding, neurotic Moritz. Possibly, they view him as a Handsome Lech; perhaps he never actually invests in seducing his female classmates at all. Only once do we see him in action, and he is quite successful.


Ernst Robel
Played by Gideon Glick (OBC), Joshua Castille and Daniel David Stewart (2015 revival)

A naive classmate of the boys who falls deeply for Hanschen's seduction.

  • Abusive Parents: In the 2015 revival, Ernst follows along silently in sign language throughout "The Dark I Know Well," implying he too was molested or raped as a child.
  • All Gays Are Promiscuous: Subverted, with Ernst, who is pure, wholesome, and almost childishly enthusiastic (his solo in "Touch Me" notwithstanding). His monologue before "The Word of Your Body (Reprise)" says it all:
    Ernst: Sometimes...I imagine myself as a country pastor. With my red-cheeked wife, my library, my degrees...Boys and girls, who live nearby, give me their hand when I go walking...
  • Foil: To Wendla. Both are kind, innocent adolescents only just beginning to mature who are seduced and get, to an extent, taken advantage of by their more mature love interests.


Georg Zirschnitz
Played by Skylar Astin (OBC), Alex Wyse (2015 revival)

Another classmate who lusts after his older, busty piano teacher Fraulein Grossenbusterhaulter.


Otto Lammermeier
Played by Brian Charles Johnson (OBC), Miles Barbee and Sean Grandillo (2015 revival)

Another classmate. He dreamt of his mother, as Melchior humorously reveals to Moritz in an effort to help him relax.

Thea
Played by Remy Zaken (OBC), Amelia Hensley and Lauren Luiz (2015 revival)

One of Wendla's friends, a girl who tries to brush her feelings of sexual desire under the carpet to please adults. She tries to understand Martha's problems after she reveals them by saying that her Uncle Klaus says that "if you don't discipline a child, you don't love it." Martha simply replies with "Well, that must be."

Martha Bessel
Played by Lilli Cooper (OBC), Treshelle Edmond and Kathryn Gallagher (2015 revival)

One of Wendla's friends who is abused sexually by her father. She unwittingly reveals feelings for that "sad, soulful sleepyhead Moritz Stiefel" much to the dismay of her friends. She is not a major character, but shows her friends her bruises from her father. As songs in this musical are considered inner monologues, it is shown that she can't tell her friends the whole story.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/SpringAwakening