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Michael Mizerany: Meet the choreographer for Cygnet's revival of "Spring Awakening"

SAN DIEGO -- The eight-time Tony Award-winning musical "Spring Awakening," based on an 1895 play by Frank Wedekind, is coming to Cygnet Theatre in Old Town San Diego next month.

The vibrant, inspiring exploration of youth and sexuality runs March 6 through April 27 featuring the choreography of Michael Mizerany, a local dance icon.

Mizerany, an openly gay dancer and an award-winning choreographer, is renowned for his sensual dance productions. He took some time to chat with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News about his prolific background, his passion for the arts, and why a reboot of a 19th century play is more relevant today than ever.

So, what does a typical workweek look like for an award-winning choreographer?

My typical day will vary depending on the projects I am working on. Last summer, I worked on two original productions, "A Midsummer Night’s Fever" at Ion Theatre and "Miss Kitty Wild West Revue" at Diversionary Theater. Daytimes were spent rehearsing "Miss Kitty Wild West Revue" and evenings were spent rehearsing "A Midsummer Night’s Fever." The Ion show opened first with the Diversionary show opening a week later. Later, "Midsummer Night’s Fever" was extended for an additional four weeks.

What are the duties of an award-winning choreographer on any given day?

Basically, I am in charge of choreographing the big dance numbers and occasionally some musical staging elements. During the first two weeks of rehearsal, my main duty is to teach and demonstrate the choreography. Once all the choreography is taught, I clean the dances, make necessary changes and ready myself for technical rehearsals, dress rehearsals and previews.

What was your breakthrough into show business?

My first musical theater job was "Altar Boyz." I was approached by Noah Longton to choreograph this show, which premiered at Diversionary Theatre in 2012. "Altar Boyz" is a good-natured satire on the boy band craze, but is largely a dance show – 12 dance numbers in all.

What was it like reinventing a 19th century play, and what universal message does "Spring Awakening" offer to audiences?

"Spring Awakening," based on the play by Frank Wedekind (1891), shines a bright light on sexual repression and illustrates the tragic outcomes that can result from keeping our youth in the dark about the changes and emotions that puberty, sexuality, and desire can bring. I know - it’s odd to imagine a story from the Victorian-era being relevant today, but there are troubling parallels between the repression and prudishness of the adults in this musical, and modern supporters of abstinence-only education programs and "purity rings." This rejection or ignoring of facts, this desire to protect our youth from reality, is pointless at best and dangerous at worst. And yet, so often, those with power try to do it.

THE DETAILS

"Spring Awakening" will be performed at Cygnet's Old Town Theatre from March 6 to April 27. Opening Night is March 15. Show times are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 and 7 pm.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting Cygnet's website or by calling 619-337-1525. Tickets can also be purchased at Cygnet's box office located at the Old Town Theatre, 4040 Twiggs St. in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.